by Liz Salkin
Growing up, my parents always raised me to accept other people for who they are. I was taught never to judge any other human being differently because I didn’t know what hardship they’ve overcome to get where they are today. I’m incredibly grateful to have been brought up this way because it shaped who I am and what I stand for today. Looking back, I’m also incredibly blessed to have parents who accepted and supported me for who I was; however, not everyone had such rewarding upbringing as I did.
My Uncle Mark has always been, what I would describe as, quirky. He has his own peculiar style with a wide vocabulary to match, and was blessed with the unconventional talent of picking the perfect sweater to match any occasion. It never occurred to me that he might be what others perceive as “different”, because that’s always who he was and he stuck to it; however, my father startled me when he mentioned that he thought my uncle was gay. While shocking, it made sense. The pieces of the puzzle were always there, I just never put them together. After several long discussions, we decided that my uncle, who is most-likely gay, hasn’t told anyone because his parents would be ashamed of who they raised. It pains me that the reason he might not ever bring anyone to Thanksgiving dinner is because that someone might happen to be a man. The thing that irks me isn’t the fact that he’s probably gay and hasn’t told anyone, it’s that he’s afraid to because of what others might think. It horrifies me that my own grandparents raised a child to be scared of embracing who they really are. While I love my grandparents, I am truly ashamed and gutted that I live in a world where this is possible. No parent should ever make a child feel insignificant about themselves. By choosing to bring life into this world, they’ve accepted the responsibility of making it clear to their child that they have the love and support of both their parents no matter who they grow up to become, or who they grow up to love. I wish to bring honor to my Uncle Mark, and anyone who suffers from the same struggles, by raising my children to this standard. My hope for the future is that the United States government legalizes same-sex marriage so that all citizens have the opportunity to love freely and without barriers.
Many opposers of same-sex marriage are still stuck on the one-track mindset of marriage solely needed for the use of procreation. Douglas Allen, a Burnaby Mountain Professor at Simon Fraser University, explains the deeper meaning of the word “marriage” by stating that, “Marriage involves not just a couple, but extended family members, non-blood relations, and impersonal third parties like the church, state, or tribe” (950). To them, the commitment that comes with marriage extends far beyond the loosely based “man and wife” perception that our society preaches. However, where does that leave couples who are deemed infertile? Are they suddenly considered unmarried in our society because they physically cannot have a child? Opposers clearly aren’t factoring in all of the other options available to couples, especially same-sex, looking to start families. In this day and age, we have so much new technology ready at our fingertips it’s almost a crime not to take advantage of it. Nowadays, same-sex partners can use in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, and the most popular; adoption to extend their family. Just because the door for natural procreation has closed for gay couples doesn’t mean that a window of new options hasn’t opened.
Many citizens fail to recognize the possible revenue increase with the legalization of gay marriage. Angeliki Kastanis, M.V. Lee Badgett, and Jody Herman, all Public Policy Fellows at the Williams Institute, did research on how much revenue the state of Washington would gain from same-sex marriage legalization and came up with an almost eight million dollar boost in tax revenue. The tourism industry would bear a large portion of the increased revenue due to out of town family members attending weddings. The planning of weddings alone would generate a near $1.5 billion in spending on flowers, cakes, meals, and other related wedding essentials (Badgett par 2). All those purchases and more create an increase in both state and local economy. In addition, many people assume that the government would lose money by allowing same-sex couples to marry due to tax reductions afforded to married couples. However, after a decade of research, Badgett, director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, confirmed that “the marriage penalty in the federal income tax system… [would] likely [cause] an increase in tax revenue” (par 4).
Most every American understands what the Constitution means by “liberty and justice for all.” Every American deserves equal justice and protection under the law. However, the government refusing to allow marriage between same-sex couples directly violates this phrase, which has been etched in citizen’s minds for generations. In an article written for Huffington Post, Murray Lipp argues that the United States repeatedly promotes freedom and democracy and represents itself as a global leader for these issues; however, “It’s unfortunate and ironic… that… on home soil one particular group of people is consistently denied full access to the ‘American dream’” (par 14). The fact that fifteen other nations have forged ahead of the United States and legalized gay marriage puts into question on whether or not America truly is a melting pot of equal opportunity and rights for all who chose to be citizens. Globally, the United States could restore integrity and strengthen our international reputation by removing all anti-gay discriminatory laws and allowing gay couples everywhere the same rights as everyone else (par. 15).
I believe we as Americans tend to lose sight of the bigger picture in the fight for equality. Marriage is not meant to be given only to those who are legally told they are the superior beings because they associate with a sexuality deemed “morally correct” by society. Marriage is a gift and should be allowed for all those who choose to love. What if the government one day decided to regulate what you as an American wore, how you were able to style your hair, what you can and cannot say, who you can be friends with? How is that any different than being told two people aren’t allowed to love each other because they happen to be the same sex? The concept of love cannot be trapped between four constricting walls labelled “man and wife”. Love is not defined by gender, race, physical or emotional attributes. People are lucky to be able to say they found that special someone in their life and no other being on this Earth should have the capability or power to strip them of that right. As singer/songwriter Macklemore said in his powerful song “Same Love”, “No freedom ‘till we’re equal, damn right I support it.”
Allen, Douglas W. “An Economic Assessment of Same-Sex Marriage Laws.” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. 29.3 949-80. Print.
Badgett, M.V. Lee. “The Economic Benefits of Gay Marriage.” The Business Desk. PBS Newshour, 29 Mar 2013. Web. 27 Sep 2013.
Kastanis, Angeliki, M.V. Lee Badgett, and Jody Herman. “The Economic Impact of Extending Marriage to Same-Sex Couples in Washington State.” the Williams Institute. (2012): Print.
Lipp, Murray. “7 Ways the U.S.A. Benefits From the Legalization of Gay Marriage.” Huffington Post. N.p., 02 Jun 2013. Web. 14 Oct 2013.