Hair column: Same-sex couples deserve right to marry

Demonstrators+gather+in+front+of+the+U.S.+Supreme+Court+on+Wednesday%2C+March+27%2C+2013%2C+as+the+court+hers+argments+on+a+part+of+the+1996+Defense+of+Marriage+Act+that+prevents+legally+wed+same-sex+couples+from+receiving+certain+benefits+by+defining+marriage+as+between+a+man+and+woman.+%28Olivier+Douliery%2FAbaca+Press%2FMCT%29

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, as the court hers argments on a part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that prevents legally wed same-sex couples from receiving certain benefits by defining marriage as between a man and woman. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

By Thomas Hair
Opinions Editor

Facebook users logged in on the first week of April to find their news feed plastered with dozens and dozens of red equal signs – people changing their profile picture to support the push for legalization of same-sex marriage. It is not “just a trend” or an “attack on religion”. It is a civil rights movement that has been a long time coming, finally receiving the recognition it deserves.

There is no legitimate reason why a loving couple should be banned from being happily married, regardless of their sexuality. Legislature barring same-sex couples from marriage is just as unconstitutional as the laws that recently banned interracial marriage.

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, as the court hers argments on a part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that prevents legally wed same-sex couples from receiving certain benefits by defining marriage as between a man and woman. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)
Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, as the court hers argments on a part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that prevents legally wed same-sex couples from receiving certain benefits by defining marriage as between a man and woman. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

The only thing that should govern this nation is the Constitution, with “no establishment of religion” (Amendment I). Passing legislature based solely on religious views directly conflicts with this principle – and that is exactly what laws like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are doing.

I repeatedly find that the only arguments against gay marriage are religious in nature. These arguments are not valid in the eyes of the Constitution, which leaves me baffled as to why it has taken us this long to begin to question laws like DOMA.

Religion cannot mandate law: it’s called separation of church and state, and it’s the reason this nation was founded. Even as a Christian, I know it is unconstitutional to impose one religion’s views on an entire nation with different cultures and beliefs.

If you oppose gay marriage, that’s fine. But if your reason for doing so is based on your religion…your argument is irrelevant in the court of law.

If the idea of gay couples marrying simply makes you uncomfortable, that is also fine, but that doesn’t justify barring millions of people from the fundamental right to marry who they love.

There are numerous faults with the arguments that claim gay marriage would “spoil” the sanctity of marriage.

If two people truly love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together, they deserve the right to seal their commitment with a vow marriage. That’s what marriage is all about.

I fail to see how a loving gay couple, taking the vow of marriage seriously, is more “damaging to marriage” than many of today’s shallow, adulterous and divorce-prone heterosexual marriages. Can opponents of gay marriage honestly say that a loving gay couple getting married is more “immoral” than a reality star manufacturing a marriage for publicity?

Besides, over the years, societies evolve and religion is forced to adapt. Time and time again. People today do not follow dozens of Biblical rules because they are impractical in today’s society. As America continues to progress and advance, religions must continue to adapt as they have always done. Perhaps the concept of homosexuals getting married is something religion will just have to accept and adapt to.

Furthermore, many opponents of legal same-sex marriage are under the impression that marriage is strictly a religious term. Though religions each have their own views on marriage, marriage predates all of the world’s major religions. It is firstly a civil contract (any public courthouse will marry a couple with no religious involvement) and a proclamation of love.

By depriving gay couples from being officially married, we are depriving them of more than just a ceremony and certificate. Married couples receive 1,138 federal rights that civil unions do not encompass – including social security benefits, right to visit a sick or injured loved one in the hospital and various insurance and tax benefits. Depriving homosexual partners of the benefits that heterosexual partners receive is discrimination against a minority. Civil unions are just as “equal” as segregated facilities were a few decades ago. Not equal at all.

Kris White, 32, and Lyssa White, 29, of Manassas, Virginia, say they've been married for five years, and carried a poster referring to a 1967 Supreme Court case that overturned state laws banning inter-racial marriages, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. The couple joined demonstrators in urging the current Supreme Court to rule in favor of gay marriage. (Curtis Tate/MCT)
Kris White, 32, and Lyssa White, 29, of Manassas, Virginia, say they’ve been married for five years, and carried a poster referring to a 1967 Supreme Court case that overturned state laws banning inter-racial marriages, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. The couple joined demonstrators in urging the current Supreme Court to rule in favor of gay marriage. (Curtis Tate/MCT)

Allowing homosexual couples to receive these benefits and say the vow does not infringe upon the value of heterosexual marriages. It does not negatively affect your life in any way. So why do people stubbornly insist on standing between couples that simply want to be happily married?

The answer is that history is repeating itself. The arguments used by the opposition to gay marriage today are the same ones used by pro-slavery groups in the 1860s, opponents of women’s rights in the 1900s and opponents of interracial marriage in the 1960s. They cherry-pick verses from religious texts to justify discriminating against and suppressing a minority.

For centuries – and still today – homosexuals have been tortured, exiled, beaten, bullied, persecuted, alienated and executed all because of a physical trait they have very little, if any, control over. Legalizing gay marriage will be an important step in reversing this trend and improving our society for all citizens.

In future generations, children will sit in school and learn about the civil rights movements of the past. They will learn about women’s rights in the 1900s and interracial marriage being legalized in the 1960s. But on the same page they will also learn about the gay rights movement of the 2010s and frown upon those who opposed it, much like we frown upon segregationists today. Don’t be on the wrong side of history.

True love and dedication is what really matters, and homosexual couples that wish to take the vow of marriage by heart should have just as much of a right to do so as any couple.