Support marriage equality

To hear the arguments before U.S. Supreme Court, check out http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_audio.aspx.

Last week, a collision of civil rights, religion and politics shook the Supreme Court as hearings on California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8, commenced and was soon followed by a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA is a federal act that denies financial and other legal benefits to married same-sex couples. Both Proposition 8 and the DOMA have acted as suppressors of the civil rights of homosexual couples, and while the Supreme Court hearings may not have been particularly effective in the fight to grant constitutional protection to same-sex marriages, the fact that they were being considered can be seen as important progress.

With nine states—Washington, Iowa, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Maryland, plus Washington, D.C.—currently allowing same-sex marriage, it is clear that historical opposition to gay marriage is making a swift turnaround. According to a Gallup poll, 2011 was the first year when, at 53 percent, more Americans favored gay marriage than opposed it. This percentage dropped down to 50 percent in 2012 with 48 percent opposition, which was still a high historical percentage. As homosexual representation becomes more prominent in media, politics and entertainment, it’s likely that support will only increase.

Opponents of same-sex marriage tend to primarily offer religious arguments for the continued repression of gay civil rights. These include such biblical classics as Leviticus 20:13: “If a man also lies with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: They shall surely be put to death,” or the rabid chanting of “Adam and Eve, Not Adam and Steve.” Besides the inane proposed precedent of using Bible scripture as a lens for sexual morality, religious belief deserves little to no consideration in a court of law where church and state are separate. Secular arguments are even more ridiculous. The primary claims that I have heard revolve around two issues: The fact that gay couples cannot naturally have children together and that same-sex marriages will destroy the institution of marriage as a whole. Apparently, people who make these arguments don’t care about the rights of infertile couples and think that Kim Kardashian’s 72-day marriage deserves more respect than Ellen Degeneres and Portia De Rossi’s long-term relationship. In short, I have yet to hear one compelling reason why homosexual couples should not get married.

I’m not going to put all gay people on a pedestal and assume that they will be 100 percent perfect couples and parents 100 percent of the time, but, ultimately, if two people who love each other wish to partake of the legal and social benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy, then let them. The government has no place to interfere. As it stands, gay people are treated as second-class citizens, not unlike black people in the pre-civil rights era, who weren’t allowed to drink from the same fountains as white people, let alone have mixed-race marriages.

Here in Nevada, there is currently a resolution on the docket for discussion in this legislative session known as SJR13 that “proposes to amend the Nevada Constitution to repeal the limitation on the recognition of marriage.” I encourage all readers of the Reno News & Review to pay close attention to this bill and to use the opinion page on the Nevada Legislature website (https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/77th2013/A/) to show your support of a repeal. That is, unless the federal government gets to it first and rightfully declares same-sex marriage legal across the whole of the United States. Like it or not, “the times they are a-changin’” for civil rights, and there is no doubt in my mind that same-sex marriage will be legal across the United States in our lifetime. Now, the question is, which side of history will you be on?