Same Sex Marriage a Civil Right?
In a long awaited, much anticipated and overdue decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons, is publicly declaring its support for same-sex marriage. As the largest and most influential civil rights organization, its support seems to be a no brainer. In its statement, the NAACP chairwoman Roslyn Brock says, “We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law.”
That’s great. Why did it take so long?
Critics complain the NAACP stand on same-sex marriage is a political maneuver to bring the organization in line with President Obama’s recent declaration of support. The New York Times declares it to be largely symbolic. No matter. The vote to support same-sex marriage as a civil right is an important step, especially in the African-American community where so many religious leaders actively fight against it. In fact, the NAACP addressed the religious concerns over its same-sex marriage stand in its statement: “ Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.” Read: Preachers, if you have a problem with it, preach on.
That’s fine. If people have a religious objection to gay-marriage, I say, don’t get gay-married. If ministers and church organizations don’t want to perform same-sex marriages, don’t. Many priests and ministers refuse to perform the marriage cermony of interfaith couples (or should it be bi-faith or mixed faith?). I don’t have a problem with churches deciding the issue for their own congregations. I have an issue when those churches try to decide the issue for all of our secular society.
Same-sex opponents point to the Bible to support their prejudice. But their Bible beliefs and interpretation should no more be shoved on others, than a Rabbi’s interpretation and belief in the Torah or a Muslim cleric’s belief and interpretation in the Koran should be shoved on them.
Same-sex opponents argue that Marriage is a spiritual institution, condoned by God. In that case, heathens like me should denounce our marriages and opt for a civil union. Until and unless that happens - “Marriage” is the civil union of our society.
And marriage is a civil right! People have the right to get married, as long as they agree, meet the minimum age requirements (which, let’s face it, were pretty barbaric when it allowed adolescents legally to marry), and aren’t married to another person already (which may be the next frontier in civil rights).
Furthermore, I’ve never understood when a group of people, discriminated against for being who they were born (Black, female, disabled), people who know what it’s like to have to fight for equality, would turn around and try to keep that equality from other oppressed groups. Where’s the Golden Rule come into play?
Until we all stand up for the principle of equality - regardless of whether we personally are affected by its absence - inequality and injustice will continue in our nation. Hate, ignorance and bias will continue (just look at the comments section in reaction to the story about NYC’s City Council Speaker getting married) unless we all declare gay rights to be civil rights. Gay Rights are Human Rights!
(Next up: plural marriage)