Jen and I are coming up on our 3rd anniversary in a few weeks; so I suppose that means we can no longer be considered newlyweds. And seeing as though we had been together for eight years prior to getting married, cohabitating half the time, we were never really newlyweds, in the traditional sense, anyways. But believe you me; something truly special happened on that beautiful July day at the Packer Chapel on the campus of Lehigh University. As one who is generally wary of any so-called tradition, ritual, or institution, I must admit that I had completely underestimated the power of marriage, and how it would affect me. At the risk of sounding clichéd: It really feels that we are now one, and greater than the sum of our respective parts. When two people sincerely commit themselves to one another in front of their God, family, and friends, a strong foundation is created, upon which a life of mutual love, respect, and support may be built. From that jumping-off point, the two can feel like together there is nothing they cannot accomplish, and no storm they cannot weather. Like I said, I wasn’t expecting it, but something special did happen, and continues to happen every day since.
This week California became just the second state to legally recognize same-sex marriages, joining Massachusetts. The Golden State’s Supreme Court overturned the ban on same-sex marriage (Proposition 22) last month by a narrow 4-3 margin; and the ruling went into effect this week. You’ve probably seen television coverage of George Takei, perhaps better known as Mr. Sulu, and his partner of 21-years, Brad Altman, among the first couples to receive their marriage license. They plan to marry one another this September.
Here is a summary of the ruling:
Relevant Constitutional Text:
Section 7 of the California State Constitution, which reads in part:
(a) A person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or denied equal protection of the laws …
(b) A citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges or immunities not granted on the same terms to all citizens.
In a 4-3 ruling, the California Supreme Court held that the terminology of marriage contains within itself many intangible benefits. To intentionally deny one class of citizens these benefits without meeting a strict scrutiny standards violates Section 7’s equal protection guarantees.
My reaction to all of this: It’s about fucking time! And quite frankly, it’s an abomination that in these United States of America there are only two states with high courts that have the courage enough to uphold the ideals of Freedom and Liberty that this country was supposedly founded upon. This ruling explains that it is not enough to simply allow for civil-unions, but that “the terminology of marriage contains within itself many intangible benefits.” And therein lays the crux of the issue: No matter how similar marriages are to civil-unions in the eyes of the law, the very act of separation creates an unfair distinction. The concept of marriage is as ubiquitous to the human experience as, oh, say, drinking from a water fountain when you are thirsty. Creating this type of distinct between what type of marriage two people can enter into, and disallowing one group of people, a minority group, from entering into the well established version, is absolutely akin to the “separate but equal” Jim Crow laws that were abolished in 1965.
I’m sorry to inform the people who feel that this latest ruling has somehow encroached upon their rights, but this country is not beholden to the Bible; it is beholden to the Constitution. This country was founded on the separation of church and state. People are actually talking about amending their state’s, and even our nation’s, Constitution to ban certain people from doing something that the majority of the world has been allowed to do for thousands of years. This is an anathema to everything the United States, or any free society, stands for.
And unless you adhere to a rigid, archaic interpretation of the Bible, cherry-picking certain passages, a ban on same-sex marriage is patently un-Christian and contradicts the teachings of Jesus Christ that the greatest of all virtues is to love and be just towards one’s fellow man.
You will hear opponents to same-sex marriage saying that this decision somehow invalidates their marriage; or that it is contributing to the erosion of the moral fabric of our society. You will hear them say that marriage between a man and woman is the only way because that is how we perpetuate our species.
I will say that, after seeing people travel across the country to get married, and after seeing the joy on George and Brad’s faces, after seeing lesbian couple Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, both in their 80s and together for 55 years, tie the knot, the value of and the appreciation for my marriage has only increased. I will say that hypocritical leaders and politicians who self-righteously preach family-values in order to win elections, and then find themselves standing before a press conference having to admit that they cheated on their wives, do far more to tear away at our moral fabric. I will say that the fact that two members of the same sex can love one another, the fact that love is not simply a biological process meant for procreation, does more to prove the existence of a beneficent God than all the scriptures combined.
Whatever personal views you may have on this subject are of course well within your rights. But what no one has the right to do in this country, or any country for that matter, is to let those personal views infringe on the way another person chooses to live his or her life.
Upon receiving his marriage license, George Takei, in his charmingly corny way, split his fingers into the Vulcan hand salute and said, “I see before me people who personify love and commitment. We are first and foremost delighted. It’s a landmark day. It’s going to be the only day like this in our lives and it is the only day like this in the history of America. I think it’s a glorious California morning to make history. Congratulations to all of us. May equality live long and prosper.” Well said, Mr. Sulu. Mr. Spock would be proud.
- Upon leaving the moving public memorial services for Tim Russert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., minutes after Somewhere Over the Rainbow played on a eukalaly, this is what greeted the roughly one thousand people in attendance:
A rare double rainbow. Wow. I’m not saying, I’m just saying…
- In case you haven’t been following the latest political news of the day, our government , in passing the FISA bill that President Bush has been pushing for, continues to wipe its ass with our Constitution, as they shred the 4th Amendment. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/18/opinion/18wed1.html