Why are Gay and Lesbian Marriages Still Illegal in 1996?

by Beverly Greene
February 1996

Author's note: Within the context of this article, gay marriages includes gay men, lesbians and bisexuals involved in long term, same sex commitments. Also, the terms gays and lesbians include bisexuals who are, have been, or will be involved in same sex relationships.

On January 14th of this year, I married the woman of my dreams. It was a beautiful ceremony. We incorporated quotes from Melissa Etheridge, as well as from the Book of Ruth into the ceremony, since many scholars now believe that she was a lesbian. Of course, gay marriages are not legal in Canada, or in the United States, my home country, so we could only have a minister perform what the Unitarian church calls a covenant ceremony basically saying that God has called us to live together in love for the rest of our lives -- you know, a marriage.

Today, my wife and I talked about how angry we are that gay marriages are still illegal in most countries in 1996. I mean, what possesses people to waste time making laws to make gay marriages illegal? Why make it illegal just because some bigots don't agree with it? There a lot of things that I don't agree with, but you don't see them calling a special session to make stupid political commercials illegal, now do you? I didn't think so.

I don't know much about Canadian government yet, since I've only been here for four months while we work on my immigration, but I do know about the United States government. I know that we have separation of church and state. The last time I checked, marriage was a religious event governed mostly by the church of choice. Although the government is what makes a marriage legal, it is commonly known that it is a religious RIGHT in most churches, a right which has been taken away from lesbians and gays simply for the fact that they are marring a person of the same sex.

When I was growing up, my morals came from the church, not the government. (Thank God, or I'd be a lying, stealing, spineless air bag with no opinions of my own!) So, why is it then, that the government gets to make this judgment call on what is right or wrong morally? The government does not take such liberties (no pun intended, honestly) with other moral issues. That is what the idea of separation of church and state was created for.

How many places in the U.S. have laws that are consistently enforced against adultery? Most people I know would agree that it is morally wrong, so why doesn't the government actively move to prevent it from happening? Or is it because the government thinks that what happens in a person's bedroom is their own business (which would be a good policy for most politicians!)? Well, if that was true, there shouldn't be a problem with gay marriages, since other than in the bedroom, we are no different than any other married couple.

Churches have protection under the government for their religious practices, as long as no harm to another person is involved. So, why are gay marriages still illegal? Perhaps the government, which we help support, sees a gay marriage as being potentially harmful to others. I mean, you never know, all those fags in one room at a time, someone might break into in a show tune and damage some old bigot's hearing aid. But seriously, there are lots of bizarre religious practices going on in the United States, and all over the world that I think are horrific. Take snake handling for instance. Nothing, to me, could be more insane, but I'm not starting a petition to have it made illegal. If some idiot wants to play around with a poisonous snake and put it in God's hands to decide whether they get bit or not, well, let them go right ahead. God gave me enough sense to stay away from things that can kill me.

So, if the government does see marriage as a religious right, or even a religious practice, and there are now churches who are more than willing to perform and recognize gay marriages, doesn't that mean that the U.S. government has overstepped the bounds of separation of church and state? In my opinion, yes they have. How dare they sit on their high horses up in Washington and tell me that I can't be legally married to another woman because they don't understand why I would want to be?

In recent years, scholars from many of the churches have re-examined the Bible and now say that not once in the King James version are gay and lesbian relationships spoken ill of. Not once. Not once were those involved in gay or lesbian relationships punished by God for the sole reason of their homosexual relationship. They even wrote beautiful love poetry to each other, poetry which is included in the Bible. (See the book of Ruth for just one example.) If homosexuality is seen as wrong by God, and the Bible is in fact God's words and thoughts written by His many disciples, then why would the homosexual love poetry be added? God is love, that is in the Bible, and no one would dare to dispute that, so then how can love be wrong? It can't.

There are new studies released every day suggesting that we are coming closer and closer to proving homosexuality has genetic causes. However, even if homosexuality was still seen as a mental illness, not allowing gays and lesbians to be legally married would still be a blatant case of deprivation of civil rights. (However, homosexuality was officially declassified as a mental illness by the American Psychology Association in 1973.) Is it illegal for those who suffer from life long, non curable mental illnesses to be married? No, and it shouldn't be. So why is being lesbian or gay different? Because it's a moral judgment being made by the government based on the soon to be proven false assumption that being gay or lesbian is a choice, not nature.

OK, so, for the sake of argument, we'll say that marriage is not considered a religious right, though it should be. However, it is definitely a civil right. The U.S. government is passing more laws everyday to protect the rights of gay and lesbian citizens from discrimination and hate crimes. (Well, other than the greatest hate crime of all, depriving us of our civil right to be married to the partner of our choice.) So why aren't they giving us this right?

Is gay or lesbian love any different than straight love? Hell no. We love, we cry, we hurt, we bleed, we are human. We have as many screw ups in our community as are in the straight community, but we also have many wonderful men and women leading normal or even extraordinary lives who just want the basic rights afforded to every other citizen in this country. What does it say about our country when people from other countries can marry someone in America legally when citizens who happen to be the same sex can't?

We have gays and lesbians serving our country with bravery and honor. We have gays and lesbians who own businesses and who contribute greatly to our country's wealth. Small businesses are one of, if not the largest suppliers of jobs in the United States. Gays and lesbians pay taxes, we vote, and make this world a better place to live by the many charity activities being operated and supported by gays and lesbians. And yet, despite all of this, we are still denied what should be considered one of our fundamental rights.

I really think that a strong lawsuit could come out of all of this someday, when some brave man or woman, or a group of lesbians and gays decide that they are tired of having their rights trampled on by the government decides to fight back (not to mention has the money and/or backing to start a lawsuit of this magnitude). We all know that the United States of America is the leader of the rest of world. I think it's about high time the U.S starts acting like it.

Beverly Greene, 20, is from British Columbia, Canada. She can be reached online at: poetica@Unix.infoserve.net.
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