Gay marriage has been all over the Internet today after yesterday’s North Carolina vote to pass Amendment One, which defines marriage as being solely between a man and a woman (again; North Carolina already had such a law). People have been going back and forth all over Facebook debating whether it is right, wrong, legal, illegal, etc, etc, etc, and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of people thinking that their lives are somehow better or more valid if someone else doesn’t have the same rights. I’mreally tired of people hiding behind so-called “legal arguments” like “Oh, the state’s laws say that gay marriage is illegal so this amendment is totally constitutional.”
GUESS WHAT ELSE USED TO BE ILLEGAL. Come on, you know this. Women couldn’t vote. Children could work in dangerous mines and factories. Black people were property, and even after they weren’t property anymore, they still couldn’t vote. People of different races couldn’t get married. There was even a time when a WHITE MAN, the pinnacle of the privileged class, couldn’t vote unless he owned land. The list goes on and on. All those things were written laws, on the books, totally legal.
They changed because we are an enlightened fucking society ungoverned by superstition or prejudice, where everyone has equal opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness. At least, we should be. They changed because we realized that people are people no matter what they look like, and because this country was founded on a philosophy of equality. Unless equal rights are extended to everyone, we are not living up to the America that we think exists. The real America, as long as discrimination is legal, is a country not of equality but of selfishness and cowardice.
Now, here’s the thing with gay marriage. I’ve yet to see someone opposed to gay marriage whose reasons weren’t based on their religious beliefs. Not everyone uses religious language when talking about gay marriage, but you can see the undertone of Christianity in arguments about how homosexuality is “unnatural” (it’s not), how it undermines traditional marriage (heterosexuals do that well enough on their own), and how it demolishes traditional family values. That definition of marriage and that set of values almost always comes from the Christian tradition–and not even universal Christian tradition. The most vocal opposition to gay marriage comes from the fringe fundamentalists who use religion as evidence for everything they say.
Which brings me to the main source of my frustration. HOW MANY FUCKING TIMES DO YOU HAVE TO BE REMINDED THAT THE UNITED STATES IS A SECULAR COUNTRY? Secular means “attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis.” Being a secular country means that, like the 1st Amendment says, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. That means that the government cannot mandate religious belief, which means that the government cannot pass a law based on religious belief, especially without additional, non-religious justification.
I and people like me bring this up over and over again. I don’t care that you’re a Christian. In fact, I think that’s great for you, as long as it makes you happy. It doesn’t affect me–at least, not until you start trying to legislate MY life based on YOUR beliefs. Being a U.S. citizen means that I can practice whatever religion I want! I don’t have to practice yours! These laws, based on religion, are unconstitutional no matter what you say. You may be able to leave religious language out when you write the bill, and you may think you can get away with it because of that; but when I ask you why you’re opposed to gay marriage, you sure as hell ought to have a better goddamn reason than “because the Bible says it’s a sin.” I don’t give two shits what the Bible says about it. I wouldn’t even if I identified as Christian. Because guess what? Not everyone in this country is Christian, and they have a right not to be because the 1st Amendment guarantees them the free exercise of whatever religion they choose. Maybe I’m being redundant here because some people just don’t seem to be getting it. Legally, religion cannot inform policy. Personal sense of morality? Yeah, maybe. But not religious tenets.
Now, if the politicians saying these things and drafting these bills would just come out and admit that they want the U.S. to be a theocracy rather than a democratic republic, THEN maybe we could finally have an open and honest discussion about their control issues. Besides, theocracies are working SO well in the Middle East.