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Why don’t you support gay marriage?

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Introduction:

I can’t remember the moment I realized I was gay. There wasn’t an explosion of rainbows, confetti and unicorns. It was just a gradual, terrifying realization. I say “terrifying” not only because my parents are Baptist ministers, but because America is a scary place to live when you’re gay. Granted, things have certainly changed for the better in the last 50 years.

As the United States celebrates LGBT History Month, its important to recognize how far our nation has come since the lovely period of shock “treatments” for homosexuality and Animal Planet-esque documentaries about “The Homosexual.”  Gay marriage is now legal in 14 states, and this summer the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), legislation denying government marriage benefits to same-sex couples, was struck down by the Supreme Court. These accomplishments are only aspects of a greater movement sweeping the nation, and for that matter, the rest of the world. I have a plain and simple explanation for this boom of progress: the argument for gay marriage makes sense. It’s not based on logical fallacies. It’s not based on vague concepts. The gay marriage argument is strong, sturdy and impregnable.

I can’t remember the moment I realized I was gay.”

— Ian Madden

Gay marriage still has a great deal of opposition, and some opposing arguments have a point, but there’s nearly always a valid counterargument. Missouri is teetering between the two sides. Gay marriage isn’t legal in Missouri, but considering how rapidly states are legalizing gay marriage, it’s bound to pop up on a ballot soon, probably when students will be able to vote.

The following statements are some of the most popular reasons I’ve heard for opposing gay marriage. Whether for or against gay marriage, I want to make sure my fellow students know the facts. At the end of the day, we are the ones who will make the final decision on gay marriage.

I’m a Christian.

So am I. In fact, Christianity’s firm emphasis on marriage is one of the main reasons I advocate for gay marriage.

This argument is the most frequent one I’ve heard and the hardest to argue against. I chose to address Christianity because it seems to be the most actively anti-gay marriage religion in the United States and the most popular reason to oppose gay marriage. And yet, I know plenty of strong Christians like myself who support gay marriage. The interesting thing about homosexuality and the Church is that whether or not the Bible condemns homosexuality is up for debate.

Homosexuality is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament: once in Genesis during the story of Sodom, when male villagers try to rape male angels disguised as travelers passing through Sodom and God decides to destroy the town, and again in Leviticus, when same-gender sex is explicitly forbidden. As far as Sodom goes, the sin that sparked the town’s destruction could have just as easily been attempted rape as homosexual desire; the Bible never says why God chose to destroy the town, only that the unspecified “sin is very grave” (New English Bible, Gen. 18.20).

And Leviticus forbids more than just homosexuality. It also forbids haircuts and shaving (Lev. 19.27), wearing clothes made of more than one fabric (Lev. 19.19) and growing a variety of crops on the same field (Lev. 19.19), practices which receive far less attention and commentary than homosexuality.

According to a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) chart comparing the biblical interpretations of pro-homosexuality and anti-homosexuality Christians, Jesus never said a documented word about homosexuality. It’s only mentioned in the New Testament within the letters of St. Paul. He condemns all homosexuals to hell, along with alcoholics, cheaters, people who have sex outside of marriage, thieves and liars (1 Tim. 1.10). An alternative translation of “homosexuals” is “male prostitutes,” but regardless, there are plenty of Paul’s commands most people have no difficulty ignoring, for instance, that all women should cover their heads in prayer (1 Cor. 11.2-16).

Whether Christianity forbids homosexuality or not, it’s fascinating that Christians determine the national system of morality in the United States. According to my AP Government textbook, America’s Founding Fathers strived for personal freedom in all its forms and despised concentrated power, whether in a single person’s hands or with a faction. In fact, in “Federalist No. 10,” James Madison wrote that “popular government…enables [a majority faction] to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.”

As far as the Gay Rights Movement goes, anti-gay Christians are the majority faction. They are sacrificing the rights of homosexuals in the name of their own interests. The outcome of the gay marriage debate will be decided by whether they can release their power, step down from their pedestal and let the gay minority have the freedom they are entitled to: marriage (see “Marriage isn’t a civil right”).

It doesn’t affect me, so why should I support it?

The issue with this argument is that everyone’s vote counts. According to CBS News, 53 percent of Americans supported gay marriage in March, USA Today reported 55 percent in July and a Quinnipiac University poll found that 56 percent supported gay marriage in September. The national numbers are rising slowly and steadily. The winner could switch at any time.

Taking the time to have an opinion, any opinion, on gay marriage could add voices to the debate, and push either side one way or the other. It’s a testament to my confidence in the gay marriage argument that good research would result in support.

If this was a matter of national government, I wouldn’t care so much about individual peoples’ opinions, but at the moment, gay marriage is a matter of state policy, and the people within a state determine whether or not their state permits gay marriage. This issue will be decided in each state by the simple majority, or the side with 51 percent or more of citizen’s votes. In these cases, apathy is as great an enemy to a cause as opposition. One vote could make all the difference.

Americans over the voting age have made it clear they will not support gay marriage. Now it is our generation’s job to change that. Young people will decide whether gay marriage is legalized, and that is why they cannot afford to step back from the debate. Every one of them has immense power in their hands as far as this issue goes. It is their opportunity to educate themselves and act. For me and so many other gays, one vote could mean the difference between liberty and persecution.

Marriage isn’t a right.

Actually, it is.

The year was 1958, and according to the American Civil Liberties Union, Mildred Jeter and her new husband, Richard Loving were happy to begin their new life together as a married couple. But there was a big obstacle to their marriage. Virginia was one of 16 states that prohibited interracial marriages. Mildred was African American and her husband Richard was caucasian. Four months into their married life they were indicted by a grand jury.

The following January, the Lovings were sentenced to one year in jail, but the sentence was suspended if they agreed to leave the state for 25 years. The Lovings moved to Washington, D.C. and appealed their conviction on the grounds that Virginia law, The Racial Integrity Law of 1924, violated their right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Supreme Court unanimously overturned their conviction and struck down the Virginia law, writing, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men….To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications…is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law.”

Perhaps same-sex marriage was not included in this broad definition, but during this case the Supreme Court declared marriage was indeed a “personal right essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness.” Although the Supreme Court continues to debate about whether or not same-sex marriage is a right, technically the decision has already been made. The only issue now is whether or not homosexuals can gain that right as citizens of the United States.

Being gay is a choice.

Well, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), homosexuality is not a choice, and the APA’s opinion is a big deal.

I’ve learned in AP Psychology that psychological experiments have to be set up in a very specific, scientific way, eliminating bias and unforeseen factors as much as possible. For a single experiment to have significance, there has to be a less than 5 percent chance the results are random. Even then, the experiment has to be retested again and again by different psychologists, and the results have to be overwhelmingly consistent. In summary, it takes a lot for the APA to take a firm stance on something, especially something this controversial.

I can attest to the “no choice” theory. I never, not once in my life, “decided” to be gay. I have never felt attracted to a woman, and I distinctly remember feeling attracted to men at a very young age, more specifically Zac Efron in High School Musical. There’s a reason the DVD is all I wanted for Christmas when I was 10.

But the reason whether or not being gay is a choice matters is because if it isn’t, and all the evidence seems to say it isn’t, then gay marriage shouldn’t even be a debate. I am the way I am. We are the way we are. I’m puking a bit at the corniness of what I’m about to type, but we were born this way.

There is absolutely no justification for telling someone to suppress their natural desire for love and commitment if it causes no harm to others. I am entitled to the pursuit of happiness. I am entitled to love my future husband, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.

A letter to fellow homosexuals at KHS,

When I look around KHS, I see plenty of comfortably open homosexuals, and maybe I’m seen as one of them to others. But there are universally negative feelings inherent to every homosexual’s experience, and those feelings are fear and shame.

The feelings are soaked into our brains from a young age. The word itself curls off of peoples’ tongues like a disgusting, forbidden term, unsuitable for civilized conversation. “Gay” is wrong. “Gay” is bad. “Gay” is what they call you when you don’t fit your gender role. “Gay” means inferiority. “Gay” is what they call you when you stand out from the crowd. “Gay” means isolation. “Gay” means rejection. “Gay” means disgust.

Oppression is created and maintained by both the oppressors and the oppressed.”

— Ian Madden

Oppression is created and maintained by both the oppressors and the oppressed. When gays internalize messages sent by society, when they start to believe that being gay is wrong or something to be ashamed of, then they permit others to hold superiority over them and remain in an oppressed state. Only when gays believe in themselves will they ever find liberation. Only when gays believe in themselves will they gain true equality.

Legalizing gay marriage is only one piece of the Gay Rights Movement. In fact, I would argue it’s a minor aspect when compared to defeating internalization. Legalizing gay marriage will not solve internal feelings of inferiority, nor will it solve all the self-esteem issues thrust onto gays from an early age. Only you can solve those problems. Only you can change your own connotation of “gay.”

For me, “gay” means love. “Gay” means strength. “Gay” means accepting myself and all that I am. “Gay” means living a life of honesty and acceptance. “Gay” means passion. But most of all, “gay” means community. Nothing is stronger than the bonds of community. Nothing is sweeter. Nothing is warmer. Nothing is more comforting.

So please never forget that you are not alone. Never forget that we are strong, we are united and we are proud. Do not fear perception. Do not fear freedom. Fear shame and embrace identity.

Gay Rights Movement Timeline:

1951: The Mattachine Society, the first national gay rights organization, is formed by Harry Hay, considered by many to be the founder of the Gay Rights Movement.

 

1955: The first lesbian-rights organization in the U.S., the Daughters of Bilitis, is established in San Francisco.

 

1966: The world’s first transgender organization, the National Transsexual Counseling Unit, is established in San Francisco.

 

1969: Patrons of a gay bar in New York City, the Stonewall Inn, fight back during a police raid on June 27, sparking three days of riots. The riots transform the Gay Rights Movement into a widespread protest for equal rights and acceptance.

 

1976: In San Francisco, Harvey Milk becomes the first openly gay city commissioner in the U.S.

 

1978: Harvey Milk is sworn in on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He is assassinated after he successfully blocks a bill firing any school employees openly supportive of gay rights.

 

1979: About 75,000 people participate in the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Washington D.C., the largest political gathering in support of LGBT rights to date.

 

1980: The Democratic Party takes a stance supporting gay rights.

 

1993: The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is instituted by the U.S. military, permitting gays to serve but banning homosexual activity.

 

2004: Same-sex marriages become legal in Massachusetts on May 17.

 

2010: The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is repealed by the Senate due to its prejudiced nature.

 

2012: May 9: President Obama becomes the first president of the United States to endorse same-sex marriage in office. Nov. 6: Gay marriage is approved of by the majority of Americans in a popular vote for the first time.

2013: The Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act.

 

Also read…

The Other F Word

The Chick-Fil-A choice

 

5 Comments

5 Responses to “Why don’t you support gay marriage?”

  1. Sarah on November 5th, 2013 2:54 pm

    awesome article, Ian!

  2. Johnny Frohlichstein on November 5th, 2013 2:55 pm

    This is incredible, Ian! You articulate your argument very well and your perspective is very powerful.

  3. Emma on November 6th, 2013 8:42 pm

    A fantastic article written by a fantastic human being.

  4. Lin Illingworth, Adviser on December 2nd, 2013 5:37 pm

    This is a great piece. I saw it at the “Best of SNO” site–which I usually just skim–and just HAD to read it. Well-argued, well-written. I’m sharing it with my staff here in New Hampshire.

  5. Felisa Busken on April 15th, 2014 10:18 pm

    I love you, cousin. Thank you for having the courage to be open and honest. Thank you for supporting your view with both logic and compassion.

    As a Christian, I have to wonder what my brothers and sisters think they’re about, passing judgement on others. Whatever else in the Bible might be difficult to interpret, this is quite clear. Romans 14 warns against judging our fellow servants, and urges us to act according to our consciences and respect others’ consciences with regard to “disputable matters.” Of course, Christians even disagree on what matters are disputable. To them, I point out Matthew 7 and Luke 6, which explicitly warn us against passing judgement. Christ himself publicly condemned only one type of sinner: hypocrites. I personally think that the only reason a Christian should seek to determine whether homosexuality – or anything else, for that matter – is a sin is if it is important to his or her own conscience. To put it another way, brothers and sisters, if you don’t experience homosexual attraction, what concern is it of yours whether homosexual behavior is sinful? Who are you to judge another’s servant?

    In short, to use another vomit-worthy cliché, it’s between him/her and God. What audacity, to think that I could stand in God’s place of judgement! After much thought and prayer, I will stand in support of your right to marry whom you will, and say with Jude, “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!”

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Why don’t you support gay marriage?