Abraham Lincoln spent four years sleeping with a man in his bed every night, a fact omitted from almost every textbook in the United States. America was built on the radical new idea of equal rights for all of its citizens.
While history classes teach the successes and failures of this bold new experiment, we are all taught that the great experiment did indeed succeed due in large part to the towering father figures of this country.
Today, Americans face a new threat to their civil liberties: the restriction on their right to be married. In what would be the first constitutional amendment to limit a citizen’s civil rights, President Bush has reneged on his election stance of neutrality and once again announced his backing for an amendment to prohibit gay marriage.
To defend gay marriage is to defend homosexuality. Anyone can get ‘married’ in a permitting church, but what gays are seeking is recognition of this union by the state.
Recognition by the state conveys rights: tax relief, hospital rights and postmortem rights. Without government acceptance, gays must jump through a series of hoops with expensive lawyers in an attempt to safeguard their rights with legal documents guaranteeing them the rights that married couples automatically get.
Some states, in an effort to compromise between the secular institution of marriage and the demands of the gay public, have allowed civil unions and domestic partnerships.
The problem with civil unions and domestic partnerships is the lack of universality.
Whereas the institution of marriage has a federal standard such that married couples will have a certain set of rights regardless of what state they are in, civil unions and domestic partnerships not only vary from state to state in the type of rights they convey, but are also not recognized outside of the state that issued the certification.
A gay civil union from the state of Vermont would not receive any of the rights and privileges in the state of Texas, and would not be recognized by the federal government either.
The current legal justification for the separation of rights between heterosexuals and homosexuals centers on the idea that homosexuality is not natural. From a legal perspective, homosexuality is a ‘chosen’ behavior, unlike race.
Because gays, in theory, can simply choose to be straight, legal protection does not need to be afforded to homosexuals. Zoologists, however, would say that homosexual tendencies have been observed in animals including penguins, dolphins and apes.
The law is not the sole purveyor of the problems facing gays today. The reason why it is so difficult to be gay in America today is cultural acceptance.
Granted, America has made strides in the right direction over the past several years with TV shows like ‘Will and Grace’ and ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.’ However, despite normalizing homosexuality, the concept of what it means to be gay in these shows is sometimes clich
Filed Under: Opinion