The debate over same-gender marriage and its legality can, indeed, said to be raging throughout this country. As we speak (or read) the U.S. Supreme Court is considering the issue in a precedent-setting action. At this point it is not clear what they will decide, or if they will even come to a decision. There is some information surrounding the Court which says that the Court may decide not to render an actual finding, leaving the issue of same-gender marriage to the states.
Emotionally, it is a no-brainer for most of us. The idea that two adult people who love each other should not be able to legitimize their relationship is inconceivable. Whether they be same-gender or members of the opposite sex, their ability to concretize their relationship legally is a logical move. It provides a testament to their love for each other and their intention to care for each other for life.
As a married man, I have always said that the act of marriage had unimaginable consequences. I don’t mean that in the Hollywood manner of depicting over-the-top love. No bells ringing, birds singing, or heavens opening up and showering sunbeams on the couple for ever and ever. But there is a difference in the relationship. It is grounded and surrounded with qualities of permanence and shared vision. But there is also a legal component to it which is not to be sneezed at.
That’s where this issue of equality in marriage hits the front page. For the nation to affirm the right of same-gender persons to marry legally means that the nation guarantees the rights, privileges and protections granted to all married persons. That includes insurance, health benefits, protection for children of the marriage, access to an authority over legal decisions, and numerous other factors which are so normal in our society as to escape our thinking … until someone mentions that the people involved are same-gender. For some reason, that changes the picture for a good number of people. They cite all kinds of reasons for objecting, and it would be wrong to dismiss their concerns as being meaningless.
But the bottom line issue is that extending this benefit to same-gender couples is a good thing to do. It is not only beneficial to them; it is beneficial to the entire nation. Any time we embrace another segment of society and draw it into the realm of normality and acceptability, we have benefited. Legal privileges also include legal requirements, so oversight of peoples’ rights is made more transparent.
Equality in marriage, as it is currently being debated, is not so much the creation of something new and revolutionary as it is the acknowledgement of a reality that has been among us from the beginning of time. People are attracted to each other (not only physically) and envision themselves as being “one.” For centuries those in charge at various levels of human interaction (government, church, etc.) defined the phenomenon narrowly, ignoring the fact that such relationships did not always follow the “norm.” Today’s action is to acknowledge that fact and affirm it.
Whether it is accomplished through the Supreme Court’s actions this week or if it takes some other direction, it is clear that the great bulk of American people have come to the conclusion that it is time to grant equality in marriage to all persons, regardless of gender. Ultimately, that conclusion cannot be defeated. Many, if not most, of us believe that now is the time.
Photo Credit: Izismile