prop8 antagonistsI feel like I am pretty late to the game when it comes to writing about the topic of same-sex marriage vs. traditional marriage.

 

Recently the United States Supreme Court decided that ProtectMarriage lacked the legal right to appeal a 2010 injunction against California Proposition 8 and overturned the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.

 

As a strong supporter of traditional marriage, and a person with gay friends, and even more friends who support same-sex marriage; the last 13 years (since CA Proposition 22) has been very awkward for me voicing my political views on this topic.

 

My home has been vandalized, I have been demonized in public, and called a hater. All because I support do not support the current same-sex marriage initiatives. I have never done harm, my friends and family do not hate those who are gay. The no H8 campaign feels off target and like a smear campaign, it just does not accurately portray my feelings or intentions.

 

On the flip side of the coin – I have seen backers of traditional marriage throw out a slur of language against supporters of same-sex marriage that has been embarrassing.There is talk of the anti-Christian initiatives that exist in the gay community.  As I hear those comments, I find it hard for me to believe that my gay friends are anti-Christian, or anti-religion at all. It is just not like them to be like that. It does not make sense to me then that most supporters of same sex marriage are anti-Christian either.

 

I feel like the two sides are fighting two different political battles and I just never have had the ability to piece it all together. This is why I am late to the game in writing on this topic.

 

It finally struck me. These two parties are fighting two different political battles. They are not opponents to each other. At the core, they are both supporters of completely different issues. Issues that have been pitted against each other needlessly.

 

Regardless of which position you favor think about these two questions sincerely.

  1. How many traditional marriage supporters that you know, have argued against same sex marriage because they do not want gay people to have equal rights? 
  2. How many same-sex marriage supporters do you know are truly trying to strip America from religious freedoms and using marriage as a vehicle to do that?

Yes – there are religious zealots who want to ban all gay people to a deserted island and let them wither away because they would have a zero repopulation rate. There are also anti-religion zealots who are using the gay community (whether they are gay or not themselves I do not know) to rid America of its religious influence in our society.

 

But as a whole, the following is a more accurate picture.

 

The governments of the United States, and the individual member states, recognize religious marriages as civil and legal entities. Federal and state civil and tax laws deal only with entities, whether they be individual, marriage, or some sort of non-personal organization such an LLC, not-for-profit, or for profit corporation.

 

Because gay couples have historically not been allowed to marry, they have been limited to the civil and tax opportunities that are only available to single persons. This has most definitely created inequality in legal and tax rights between heterosexual couples  who choose to be married and homo-sexual couples who cannot be.

 

Because the United States government recognizes religious marriage as a legal entity, and has granted civil authority to religious leaders to authorize marriages – marriage technically makes sense as something that is a right to all citizens of the United States, regardless of sexual preference. Why? Because  the law should act indifferent to all citizens. It is neutral on race, gender, political, religious, and sexual preferences. Or at least it should be.

 

Supporters of same sex marriage are fighting for the ability to have the same legal and tax opportunities and options as their fellow citizens who are not gay and choose to be married to someone of the opposite sex.

 

Supporters of traditional marriage are not fighting against legal equality. In fact, legal status is most likely not even on their radar of talking points.

 

When organizations become increasingly intertwined with government bureaucracy – umbrella policies govern the can’s and cant’s of  organizations of the same kind. These legal entities can be regulated by the government because they possess  civil and legal responsibility. Uniformity is a best practice to ensure equal treatment under the law by the differing providers of the civil or legal right.

 

Marriage ceremonies, rites of passage, qualifications for and definitions of morality can vary greatly between religions and even between Christian sects.

 

Supporters of same-sex marriage argue that when the State and Federal governments continue to place more merit on marital status to define the civil, legal and tax opportunities to their respective citizens, universal conformity is a natural evolution. This  includes uniformity in definitions and qualifications for marriage, and as well as definitions for moral conduct.

 

This kind of universal standard potentially required by those to whom legal authority to perform marriage has been granted, will come at the cost of legally being responsible to all citizens regardless of indifferences. This would require religious leaders and organizations to relinquish their religious beliefs. A sacrifice that, in the minds of those like me, would oppose the first amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits the making of any law that impedes the free exercise of religion.

 

Supporters of traditional marriage are fighting to uphold the integrity of the first amendment. They recognize that more heavily weighted influence of marriage as a vehicle for civil, legal and tax opportunities means more uniformity among authorized institutions who can legalize a marriage. This in turn would create more uniformity of exercised religion and the inability to freely exercise differences of religious beliefs.

 

For at least 13 years our country has focused on marriage status as the entity to define the legal, civil and tax opportunities available.

 

This focus has divided America to the point where we are inaccurately accusing our friends, neighbors co-workers and family members as haters, bigots and more. Not just in regards to sexual preference, but also in regard to religious affiliation.

 

As a result, supporters of traditional marriage are all branded as bigots and hateful toward gay people, supporters of gay marriage are being looked upon as value-less, godless humans. These are both inaccurate and painful stereotypes.

 

We instead should be focusing on what alternatives do not currently exist, that we could create, that would enable a level field of opportunity for all citizens of this great country to enjoy the same legal, civil, and tax opportunities. We should instead be focusing on how to create equality without disturbing individuality.

 

Maybe that means removing legal authority from religious institutions, thus making marriage purely a religious ceremony that retains no legal status in the eye’s of the Federal and State governments. Maybe it means amending the constitution to provide unique privileges to religious organizations for discrimination within rites and ceremonies not available to other legal entities such as corporations and other not-for-profits.

 

There has to be way to mend the the division that has expanded so deeply and widely. As Americans, we are bigger than this divide. If we continue to let this divide expand we an expansion of polarizing issues that will separate us even more.

 

Eventually, we will no longer want to be called the United States of America and our fate will be that of other great civilizations that lost their way and faded into history. It may not be today or tomorrow. But it could be.

 

Let’s choose not to let it be on our watch.