year... On the brink of conforming to reality....
College applications.... Audition material.
I have not had
enough time to breathe, let alone think to even put words
down on paper. Alas, I cannot stand being quiet for too
long. That flame of intuition inside of me forces my
silence to succumb to the pen.
silence, midnight in D.C. is conspicuously stagnant. There
is a flickering streetlight that can't decide
whether it wants to grace us with its rusty warmth. A
derelict is smoking a cigarette he found in an
ashtray. The theater is closing. Yet the activity is mute as
shriveled leaves dance around my feet.
caught my eye: linen pages bound in burgundy card stock.
To a passerby it would appear to be a piece of trash, but
something moved me to pick it up. Amid the lack of
activity my focus was driven to these stray pages.
I picked it up
off the sidewalk and looked at the cover: "The
Commitment Ceremony of John & Keith, St.
Margaret's Episcopal Church--Washington,
celebrate the commitment and covenant we make with each
other," reads the closing note from John and
Keith. "We celebrate 10 years of our lives
together, and most of all, we celebrate the amazing gifts
God has given us in each of you." It was a
poetic angle of love in ink .
Human science, as
advanced as it is, can't measure love. Science can
study love's various energies. Science can record its
external countenance. It can hypothesize the outcome
of love's immutable drive. But science cannot
quantify the immeasurable value of love.
On the other
hand, we have an industry that can create cheap imitations
of love. Hollywood projects a series of images claiming to
accurately emulate the reality that is love. People
pay eight bucks a seat to bear witness to the
hysterical depictions on the big screen.
different worlds, state governments--our necessary
evil--add to their growing pile of false claims
that they can define love. Unfortunately, many
organizations and activists on both sides of the fence
jump on the bandwagon towards the pinnacle of tarnishing
democratic values. Both the government and these
organizations claim that "marriage is about love." In
saying that, these government officials believe that
same-sex couples do not contain the ability to love
like their heterosexual peers and therefore do not deserve
legal status as partners. Most state governments
support the passing of legislation that restricts the
rights and benefits of marriage to only a man and a
woman. Other organizations, both in favor of and
against same-sex marriage, believe that marriage is
defined by love on the basis that the love of two
people is validated by a marriage contract.
Marriage is about
binding two people (read: a man and a woman) in a legal
contract that grants them over 1,100 federal benefits. The
concept is plain and simple: Marriage is a legal issue
when it comes to politics. In playing politics,
organizations pushing for restrictions on marriage use
a weak argument that same-sex couples are not deserving of
the "fundamental institution of traditional
marriage." Gay rights organizations shoot back,
stating that same-sex couples deserve the right to
marriage just as heterosexual couples do. I don't
think either side is making themselves clear.
Perhaps many gay
rights organizations do not intend to state that
same-sex couples seek to impede on the foundation of
"traditional marriage," but in
advocating for equal legislation at this point in time
we are moving in the wrong direction. Are we seeking
marriage, or are we seeking the rights and benefits of
a marriage contract?
couples (or heterosexual couples, for that matter) need to
validate their relationship with a legal contract? No.
Same-sex couples do, however, need access to the
benefits of marriage--notably hospital
visitation, guardianship rights, adoption and custody
rights, domestic-violence protections, and a number of
other important privileges that come with a marriage
contract--all of which are things that the
majority of voters in the country support for same-sex
So why are
"family" organizations (along with the
government) and gay rights activists measuring love
with a piece of paper? Clearly, America is not ready for
same-sex couples to be equally granted the title of
marriage. Forty-five states have made that
clear by establishing legislation that restricts
marriage to heterosexual couples. Twenty-six states
have passed constitutional amendments restricting
marriage, and 11 more have proposed such amendments.
We are advocating
for the wrong thing. We should be establishing the
fundamental principles for same-sex couples that come in
marriage contracts, not getting wrapped up in the word
marriage itself. According to nationwide polls,
American voters support granting marriage-like rights
to same-sex couples. In Virginia, the majority of
voters say they would support legislation that allows for
these benefits for same-sex couples, as has been made
apparent in this year's general assembly
session in Richmond. The issue of marriage is still a
sensitive subject for our country. Are same-sex
couples deserving of the rights and benefits granted
to heterosexual couples in marriage? Yes. Are American
voters supportive of same-sex marriage? No. Are American
voters supportive of key benefits of marriage for
same-sex couples? Yes. Yet, where do our priorities
lie in the gay rights movement?
I am not saying
we should give up.I am not saying that we should
agree with "family" organizations
and the legislation passed by 45 states. I am saying
that we need to make sense when it comes to
advocating for equality. Equality comes in steps,
and we need to recognize that obtaining equality
requires patience and sensible tactics. By
forcing the issue of same-sex marriage on America we
have created a major setback. State governments and
voters struck back by using the constitution as a weapon,
and our own organizations should be held accountable
for jumping the gun.
ourselves to get wrapped up in the word marriage, and
now we have had to waste time unsuccessfully fighting
No one can
satisfactorily answer a question that has spanned the very
lifetime of human existence: What is love? Surely a marriage
contract is not the epitome of a loving relationship.
I like the word that John and Keith used: commitment.
What are we
accomplishing for couples like John and Keith when we
repeatedly use the word marriage? Clearly, America
would rather we use a different word for the time
being. Perhaps we should focus on the people rather
than the terminology. John and Keith need the security and
protection that heterosexual couples are given in marriage.
We need to establish the protective benefits for these
couples first. We can deal with the word issue later.
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