BY Advocate.com Editors

October 05 2009 5:45 PM ET

Why does Vander Plaats worry so much? For that matter, why, in 2009, do
same-sex unions still scare people? Does giving loving, committed
same-sex couples the same rights as married straight couples affect the lives of nongays in any way? The way some people react, you'd
think that gay people, once married, would be lined up at the doors of straight couples with a checklist of tips to improve their marriages. Let's be
realistic, things happen behind closed doors that no one knows about. Sure,
rumors may swirl if a couple is hedonistic or drinks too much or
fights. But isn't every couple, gay or straight, subjected to
conjecture?
 
In the summer of 2008, when the TV show Swingtown depicted life in the 1970s in a wealthy Chicago suburb where couples
were swinging, rumors flew throughout that area that spouse swapping
was once again in vogue. Among straight couples. Who are allowed to
marry under state and federal law. So where were the conservative
protesters shouting foul at this activity? The bottom line: Who gives a
damn? If we all respect the ability of consenting adults to do what they want in the
privacy of their own space,
shouldn't that be their business?
 
Sure, the Swingtown phenomenon doesn't really speak to marriage rights, but my point is that, whether gay or straight,
people can be deviant. Do the children of straight swingers fall behind in school or grow up depraved because their parents are
having a little late-night debauchery? Probably not.
 
But both gay and straight couples are just as often committed and vanilla, and this is what the naysayers seem
to overlook. Being gay does not make someone a creepy,
perverted sex addict. The point of the marriage equality movement is that same-sex couples want
to stand in front of their loved ones and commit themselves to each other and seal their partnership, whether this is before god or
country only. They're not getting up in front of people to
say, "I, [state your name], do promise to take [state your partner's name]
in love, sickness, health, and orgies." When it comes down to it, we
need to get people to understand that this isn't about religion. It's
about civil rights. Civil marriage. Civility. In being denied the right to marry, same-sex
couples are being denied so much more.
 
"Some
people fail to differentiate between marriage as a religious
institution and a civil institution," Illinois state treasurer Alexi
Giannoulias, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat of Rod
Blagojevich appointee Roland Burris, told The Advocate. "While marriage as a religious
institution should be governed by people's faith and the tenets of
their religion, marriage as a civil institution should be governed by
principles of fairness."
 
Giannoulias, who recently came out in support of same-sex
marriage, continued, "Civil marriage should be equal for all people
and provide the same protections under the law, with all legal rights
and responsibilities. No American in a committed, long-term
relationship should be denied inheritance rights, Social Security
benefits, hospital visitation rights, equal pension and health care
benefits, and all of the other legal protections government grants
married couples."
 










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