Saturday, March 05, 2011

Defending Everyone's Marriage Rights...

There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA is support to “defend” marriage by making it illegal for many United States citizens from marrying. To be specific, it prevents gay people from marrying other gay people (unless they are a gay man and woman, which would be fine if unfathomable).

As a straight, married man, as a man who has all the rights DOMA specifically takes away from my gay brothers and sisters, I feel it about time I spoke out.

It seems to me that this restriction of rights is very familiar. The United States used to restrict the rights of a different group of Americans and it did it all very legally. Those, of course, we black Americans who were restricted from having equal rights to vote, drink from a water fountain, ride wherever they liked on a bus, and so many other things. Whites back then had the attitude of “I’ve got my rights. You’ll have to fend for yourself,” and those were the least malicious of them. This “I’ve got mine” attitude is not unique to Americans; we’re just really good at it.

And so, here we are doing it again, restricting the rights of a certain group of Americans under the thin veil of legality. This time, we’re doing it to gay Americans. Straight people might as well be saying, “It’s legal for me to marry. You’ll just have to fend for yourself.”

The fact that this has not been seen as a national disgrace is appalling. The fact that pro-gay rights people have not attacked this with the same fervor that they attacked Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is just wrong. (Especially when you consider that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell only increases a LGBT individual’s chances of dying in war, hardly a perk.) The support of equal marriage rights shouldn’t be seen as a gay/straight issue. My marriage rights are just as endangered when the rights of someone else are restricted.

Defense of Marriage? The only way marriage can ever be defended is when it is the right of all Americans. The so-called “political right” call it a “slippery slope” when all are afforded the same rights. They used a similar argument with regards to voting rights. But I say it’s a slippery slope when all Americans do not have equal rights. Who would they restrict next? The so-called “political right” talk about having to allow anyone to marry if they allow gays to marry and I say that argument has been absurd on the face of it since the beginning. It is indefensible and should never be allowed to stand. Allowing black Americans the right to vote did not turn into the disaster they said it would and neither will allowing all Americans equal marriage rights.

What all Americans have to realize is that the only way to defend your rights is to defend everyone’s rights. Otherwise, what’s the virtue of calling yourself American?

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