I try to avoid discussing personal things on this site, just because I don’t necessarily like the idea of putting myself out there. But it’s been an interesting political week, and I wouldn’t be true to myself or this site (which is an extension of myself) if I didn’t say what was on my mind, right?
The big news (at least for the past several hours) is that President Obama has finally come out and said that he is in support of same-sex marriage. Now, there will be plenty of people who will say that this is an election year gambit and he should’ve come out in favor at any given point prior to now. We can play the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” game from now until 2016, but there’s no dancing around the fact that for any major presidential contender (let alone an actual sitting president) to make a statement like that is fucking monumental. Yeah, I’m a cynic, and I certainly believe that part of the reason Obama announced this to Robin Roberts is because he’s trying to shore up potential undecided voters, but let’s also consider the fact that this announcement will also repel a good chunk of potential undecided voters, particularly the black religious conservative constituency. The fact that this comes less than 24 hours after the state of North Carolina passed a vote to approve a constitutional amendment to define marriage as “strictly between a man and a woman” is not coincidental, I’m sure.
Why does this affect me? Obvious answer: I’m gay. In the event that I meet a man that I would like to spend the rest of my life yet (hasn’t happened yet, but hope springs eternal), I’d like to have that person have the same rights as any spouse, whether they be tax breaks or the ability to make decisions about my life in the event I wond up in a bad health situation and a decision has to be made-or vice versa. I shudder to think about who would have control over my affairs in the event that I do, in fact, get sick. I don’t think my basic human rights should be compromised by something I have no control over.
Let me repeat the last part of that sentence: something I have NO control over. Most of the people who will tell you homosexuality is a choice or conscious decision have no ground to stand on. After all, they’re not gay. I’m pretty sure if you asked most if not all of those folks if they ever made a conscious decision to be straight, they’d say no. Being gay-for me-was as much of a conscious decision as being right-handed. Or being black. I had no say in the matter, and I’ve struggled long enough to confidently get on the soapbox and say that this is how I was made and, largely, I’m okay with it.
I guess my question is: why shouldn’t gay people be allowed to marry? Or, more accurately, why shouldn’t gay couples, in the eyes of the law, be able to receive the same benefits as married straight couples? What’s the big deal about how people live their lives so long as it isn’t hurting anyone? I won’t go into detail about biblical studies because I haven’t read the Bible in full, but I’ll also say that I know enough about the Bible to be well aware that there are many presumed “sins” mentioned in addition to homosexuality and no one out there is passing laws saying adulterers, for example, can’t marry. Murderers can marry. Even the most closed-minded person would agree that adultery and murder should be much higher up on the sin scale than being attracted to/falling in love with someone, whether they share the same equipment as you or not. Two people love one another, they want to get married-even if you don’t “agree with” the nature of their relationship, why should that decision even matter to you?
So what does it matter? What are people afraid of? This is largely a rhetorical question, because I doubt that I’ll get an honest answer from anyone. In my personal experience, I’ve had the most trouble with people who identify themselves as Christian, because they shut off when I bring up the topic. If you’re going to be against something, at least have the balls to stand up for it, you know? I feel as though there’s still a segment of the population that feels like there’s some kind of “gay agenda” in which armies of fabulously dressed men and truck-driving women will converge to make the entire world homosexual. First off, those people are in la-la land, and second of all, I think that way of thinking masks either extreme fear of the unknown or some kind of self-hatred. There are a lot of self-loathing homos out there, and one need only look at the past 5-10 years in American politics and folks like Ted Haggard to infer that the people who fight the hardest against something are usually doing so to deflect attention away from them doing that exact thing. As far as the fear thing goes, I can only relate that personally from my experience as a black man. Now sit on Uncle Big Money’s lap, ’cause he’s gonna tell you a story. One thing that will stick with me from now until the end of the time is something an Asian kid wrote in my high school yearbook. To paraphrase: he was prejudiced against black people and it wasn’t until he befriended me that he was able to accept a black person as a brother. It probably wasn’t anything specific I did to change his mind: it was just me being me. Same goes for gay people. We’re not lepers. We’re fucking people. I guarantee that the majority of homophobes out there have someone very close to them who is gay (or bisexual) and just hasn’t admitted it to them…or themselves.
Do you think anyone wants to be looked down upon or treated as a second class citizen because of something they didn’t have a say in? What galls me more than garden variety homophobia is when it’s practiced by other minority groups. It’s like, you already know what it’s like to be discriminated against. Why would you intentionally discriminate against someone else? No one’s asking you to do anything other than to live and let live, and have a little bit of humanity for your fellow man. Even if you wanna play the Christian card, discrimination against gays flies against the basic tenet of Christianity or any other religion: the Golden Rule-do unto others as you would have done to you.
(steps off soapbox)
At any rate, there’s no disputing that this is a big deal for President Obama. No doors will open overnight, but for the first time in history, the leader of the free world is voicing his opinion and coming out in support of a group of people that serve as a rallying point for socially conservative folks. It’s certainly a ballsy move—the President is standing up for a cause that will cost him tons of voters, but it’s a watershed moment in American history, especially for people like me who want the rights we deserve as taxpaying, hardworking citizens who are as entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as anyone else is. The President’s statement won’t immediately open any doors, but it does appear as though the light is growing brighter at the end of the tunnel.