What the Definition of Marriage Debate Is Really About

In this politically-charged week of rampant expression of opinion after opinion across media sites, newspapers and various vocal Facebook friends’ pages, I thought it an ideal time to tackle the soapbox. When is the last time you stepped atop its platform?

Me? Not often. In fact, for an extremely opinionated mouthy chick, I do keep many of my views to myself. You can read through my blogs, glance through my likes and catch my snarkiness about a variety of people and topics as it pops up from time to time in a tweet, so I’m not that tough to gauge. But for the most part, I keep my opinions to myself and channel them into the two places where I can actually do something: the voting ballot and personal involvement or support.

This week, I asked you to dare yourself to take a stand about something – anything that you felt really passionate about. The challenge:

Step up onto the soapbox. You’ve got five minutes, the attention of the world and just one subject you can tackle. Make your impassioned plea, folks.

I had difficulty choosing one topic. After all, there are so many good topics from which to choose and though there are definitely a few of them for which expressing my angle might only garner me misery and little debate or intelligent conversation, I decided to stick my neck out for a recent debate that is far from over.

Gay marriage or as opponents prefer to label the nature of this argument – defining marriage.

I know that some of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers are going to disagree with me on this one, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Heck, quite possibly some of my family. Again, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been on opposite sides on a subject and I don’t expect it to be the last.

I feel the debate about gay marriage stems primarily from a different foundation of facts and basic views of human beings and their place and role in the world. More times than not, the basis of this “knowledge” is religious belief. Opponents pointing to specific passages in their holy play-by-play of what their supreme being holds as truth. This is often their document of choice – if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” I would be singlehandedly building the Tampa Bay Rays’ new stadium – in my backyard, by the way – with change to spare for Dairy Queen Brownie Q Delights for everybody afterward.

Interestingly enough, that other document – the U.S. Constitution – is often forgotten about, though gun aficionados and vitriolic hate-mongers like the Westboro Baptist Church would be the first to embrace it in defense of the right to bear arms and the right to freedom of expression, regardless of how nasty, hurtful and downright fear-provoking it may be. But the key fact is lost on opponents and that is: that gay couples are engaging in a consentual relationship (much as many of them are) and as tax-paying, law-abiding citizens, simply want to claim the same rights as others in the community. But this is quickly discounted. Why? Fear.

I so wish that people could really examine this issue without emotion, without the influence of their pastor, without the influence of the talking heads which cloud the issue and plant seeds of a non-existent, militant “gay agenda” that they deem is out to “destroy American ideals and morals,” as I’ve heard it churned out by the right-wing media, particularly over talk radio airwaves and online platforms. It starts with a completely inaccurate picture of who gay people are. Those who are afraid of gay marriage are not willing to see that the people they are fearful of look just like them, work in their offices, lead their little league teams, support the community through patronage and philanthropy, lead our businesses, grow our businesses, teach our kids, operate our cities and head up their own households. And oh, yes, they just happen to date, sleep with or want to marry someone of the same gender. And this impacts all of the above, HOW??? Exactly. Not one iota.

For those of us with friends or family who’ve come out – and those who haven’t openly because they haven’t felt comfortable enough yet in their communities, workplaces or families to do so – it is clear the argument is not about being gay, although opponents of gay marriage have made it so. It is about rights. Last time I checked, this country was founded on the principle that we are all created equal and entitled to the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, and that road to happiness often involves the love of another human being, the fundamental foundation of being human, connecting with another. Gay couples who want to marry are not asking for any special privileges beyond the same rights granted to other couples, that any heterosexual couple would expect: to have my spouse on my health insurance; to file taxes together as homeowners; to have ease of transfer of benefits for such things as life insurance upon death, social security, disability or veterans benefits; to serve as the key emergency contact and stay by the other’s bedside during a medical emergency crisis; and the right to marry.

It is not an agenda to create upheaval in American society, wreak havoc on the minds of children everywhere and diminish the significance of entering into a traditional heterosexual marriage often launching under a holy roof of some kind.

The campaign to legalize gay marriage is about rights and tax-paying, law-abiding citizens having the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts – no new special treatment, simply the SAME treatment.

I doubt I’ve changed any minds, although I always hope that perhaps one person teetering on the fence might at least do more research on the issue and what is really being proposed in those states still attempting to get leglislation passed in their states, as well as learn more about those states who have instituted it.

I think it is really hypocritical – regardless of  political party or religious affiliation – for anyone to hold heterosexual marriage high aloft this pedestal of moral superiority when globally, it has become quite clear that the world is a much more complex place than decades ago, and for this reason and our ability to connect with so many more people than ever before, we are clearly finding our relationships much more complex and harder to maintain, too. Monogamy is not quite held with the same regard as in the past, and frankly, neither is the commitment of working toward salvaging marital relations for couples anywhere you turn, and yes, that includes those lucky dogs, the heterosexuals fortunate enough to go through the big fanfare and soiree of an event, only to realize within a few years (or in a certain reality star’s case, a few minutes), that holy matrimony should perhaps be renamed wholly matrimony to remind folks that yep, you are getting the WHOLE enchilada – not just the big party and the great registry presents. You’re getting the clean-up, the post-party hangover and the future disagreements about all of those matters you never worked up the nerve to talk about.

I ask those heterosexual opponents of gay marriage – is marriage really that sacred? It’s certainly not being treated as such. Any couple entering into it decides on their own just how sacred those vows are, and their sexual preference does not come into play – but their own maturity level, willingness to commit, personal view on marriage, and love and devotion for each other do, however, play a huge part.

Let’s get real about the debate over the definition of marriage. This argument against gay marriage is one based on fear and ignorance. Not understanding, not knowing anyone perhaps in a committed gay relationship, listening to mere rhetoric from others and not basing an opinion on the facts of what is really being sought here by gay couples – that is what is holding people back from having a very real, frank conversation on the subject.

So can we all please step down from the pedestal of righteousness and agree that none of us are really that good at matrimony — and that planets will not collide, buildings will not sink into the oceans, children’s ears will not erupt into flames and the world will continue rotating on its axis if gay people are allowed the same shot at this marriage thing as the rest of us have had and in most cases, failed.

Okay, I suppose my five minutes is up. I’m done…for now. Hop on board and make your case for your own topic of choosing, and we promise to give you our undivided attention if you promise to avoid personal attacks and stick to making the argument for your case. I welcome you to the soapbox. Light up the fire in your belly and let it roar.

Cheers to finding that daily spark in your life!


1 Comment

  1. Very well said, Chris….no arguments from me on this issue, as I agree with you completely. Good job!


  1. Blog Double-Take 2012 « Kuhn Stories - [...] What the Definition of Marriage Debate Is Really About (Sept. 2) [...]

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