Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Extending the Franchise

No, not the voting franchise, the marriage franchise. Like many other native Bay Staters, I am anxiously awaiting the May 17 deadline for the SJC's decision to go into effect- or for the Legislature to pass a REAL civil unions bill (unlike Vermont's). That gays and lesbians ought to enjoy the same rights of citizenship as other Americans just seems to make sense. I have not ever been swayed by the arguments of the Religious Right that postulate gay marriage as undermining heterosexual marriage. Beyond the obvious response of pointing to the divorce rate among hetero couples and saying, "seems like us breeders are doing a fine job screwing up marriage all by ourselves", there is an argument to be made that by extending the franchise we solidify its importance to our society.

By recognizing gay and lesbian marriage we bring in hundreds of thousands of new adherents to the tenets of marriage. Maybe our view of marriage changes a bit, at least in terms of the gender of the individuals, but the institution itself and its basis in long lasting monogamous relationships is strengthened by its new apostles. Anything that promotes lasting relationships also ensures societal stability and the establishment of communities.

And, on a more personal note, once gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts (or some other state if MA punts) I myself will be able to marry. Long ago I made a decision that I would not enter into a marriage contract in any state that did not allow my gay and lesbian friends to do the same. It just did not seem right for me to take advantage of a right that was denied to others based on their sexual preference. While I have continued to agitate for equal marriage rights, it was also important to me to make my own personal stand by foregoing my exercise of that right, otherwise I would be nothing more than a hypocrite.


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