Because someone has to say something.
Over the past two days, the Massachusetts legislature has convened in the state house with pulsating hordes outside, noses pressed to windows, megaphones in hand, anxious and anticipating the decisions of legislators over proposed versions of a constitutional amendment that would narrowly define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Good News: So far, the first two noxious proposals were narrowly shot down yesterday.
Bad News: Legislators still have at least two more proposals with different wording to consider.
If the legislature ratifies such an amendment now, it would have to be re-ratified again in 2006, then placed on the ballot for voters to make the final call.
Good News, If You Can Call It That: If the amendment passes, same-sex couples can still marry up until 2006, but afterward, their legal, civil marriage will turn into a civil union.
Truly Good News: If the amendment does not pass, then this will be a monumental step forward for the entire nation in terms of equality.
Right now, however, U.S. lawmakers and citizens continue to show a sickening hypocrisy, double-talking and backtracking on all the rhetoric we vomit up over equality, diversity and justice. What’s even worse, the plan to de-evolve the civil marriages into civil unions is one of the most degrading, ghastly things of all, creating a separate but equal system smacking of the segregation this nation knows all too well.
There is no sane, logical reason to deny same-sex couples the right to a civil marriage. Absolutely none. The religious convictions of some look negatively on queerness, and those individuals are allowed their religious freedom; however, the debate about same-sex marriage is not one of religious morals. It’s about civil rights. Apples and oranges, kids. Apples and oranges.
In our own home state this week, the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, has allowed the city to issue marriage licenses, giving out at least eight yesterday to same-sex couples as a challenge to the state contitution, which contains a definition-of-marriage amendment passed by voters in 2000. Kudos to the ballsy Newsom, both for making San Francisco the first local U.S. government to recognize same-sex civil marriages, and for showing that marriage is a basic right for citizens that our constitution affords every citizen equally under the law.
And there’s that word again: equal.
This is what the same-sex marriage debate comes down to – all citizens are equal in the eyes of the nation. To deny someone a secular right, such as civil marriage, based on sexual orientation is inherently unconstitutional and contrary to everything this nation stands for.
While a group of wayward Christians shuffled over here and had a hand in forming this place, to label us a Christian nation is faulty. It tells every Jew, Muslim, Hindu, atheist and so on that they are deluded foreigners leasing someone else’s homeland. For everyone who, or whose ancestors, has faced some form of persecution based on a facet of who they were – be it religion, ethnicity, class, age, size or shape – to turn their back on the fight for same-sex civil marriages and the larger picture of equality: You are no less a traitor and a hypocrite, both to yourself and to this place.
To live in this nation, to praise its benefits and criticize its faults, to take advantage of what it has to offer and fight for what it should, while still allowing such heinous things as second-class citizenry to exist, is unforgivable.
If we are not here living together as equals, then there really is no point in being here at all.
You may remember former Daily Nexus opinion bar-jockey Steven Ruszczycky from his weekly struggle to live without vowels.