I have been thinking a lot about the controversial subject of LGBT rights to marriage. Someone recently asked me if I would be as passionate about the rights of this sector of our population if I didn’t know any of its members personally. That gave me pause and I pondered it for some time before I answered. I can say, quite assuredly, that I would still feel as strongly as I feel if I didn’t have the privilege of knowing some really great people who also happen to be gay. I know this because I am as emotionally moved by the plight of women who are denied their basic human rights in some third world countries – women who I do not personally know – as I am by the struggle for the LGBT community to have equal rights here in the United States.
I once heard it said, “Marriage is not a right. It is a privilege.” This was stated in some sort of debate about the morality of gay marriage and whether that “right” should be protected or denied. When the commentator stated that marriage is a “privilege,” I immediately reverted back to childhood when I would misbehave and my parents would take away my privileges and I would have to earn them back by obeying their commands. I began to wonder… who has the right to give and take away the “privileges” of an entire group of people simply because they don’t agree with their behavior? Who has made them the “parents” of the nation and has given them the right to declare that anything is a privilege that they can revoke or bestow as though they are God?
In my mind, I could see a connection developing between this battle for gay marriage and the battle to free the slaves. I began to wonder if the LGBT community could be classified as a “race” and looked up the word in the dictionary. Interestingly enough, as a noun, in reference to “anthropology,” there are three definitions that actually could be used:
a. any of the traditional divisions of humankind…
b. an arbitrary classification of modern humans…
c. a human population partially isolated reproductively from other populations…
Throughout history, the gay community has been divided out and segregated from humanity based on their “unnatural” ways. Because they were “different” from what society considered (considers) to be “normal,” they have always been excluded and set apart. They have always been traditionally divided from humankind. LGBT has become a not-so-arbitrary classification of modern humanity and has become something that people fight to keep in the little rainbow-colored box. Additionally, the LGBT community is more than partially isolated reproductively from other populations because same-sex pairings are unable to reproduce in the traditional way and gays and lesbians rarely mingle with opposite sex partners – in the traditional definition of “mingling” – for the purpose of reproducing.
In light of that, I have three more reasons why I am in support of the LGBT community’s rights. They can be classified as a race and their rights – as a race – should be protected, just as the rights of every other race and classification of people are protected in this nation. People have fought for – and finally won – the rights of many sectors of our population… blacks, women, children, disabled. We fought to allow slaves to marry one another, masters to marry slaves, and interracial marriages. We allowed those groups of people to have their right to a legal marriage. Throughout history, the rights of these people were fought for and won by people standing with them and standing up for them, even if – or especially if – they were not of that classification.
As I’ve thought about these things for awhile now, I’ve had several different conversations with activists who are lobbying for the LGBT community’s right to legally-recognized marriages. They are as vehement and boisterous in favor of this as their opponents are opposed to it. This war over LGBT rights is our final frontier to conquer. And I watch in amazement as our nation is divided into bits and pieces because of a battle that, at its very core, is a battle over the human need to be loved and to belong with someone.
It is time to stand up and face the battle that is dividing our nation. Legally allowing a man to marry another man or a woman to marry another woman and recognizing that marriage as a legally bound relationship that is protected by the Constitution is simply allowing a man to legally marry another man or a woman to marry another woman. It takes nothing from the man and woman who marry each other, but it does remove the divisive stigma of separateness and inequality that is ripping our nation apart.
I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments. Feel free to jot down what you’re thinking in the comment box below.