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Gay Marriage and Beyond

(Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP - Getty Images file)

It's been a little over 3 months since California lifted a ban on gay marriage and guess what, the world isn't over! (surprising isn't it you conservative you). The world hasn't exploded, the oceans haven't caught on fire, and last time I checked, the sanctity of marriage has not been lost. My parents still love each other and their marriage has not lost any of its meaning in the past 3 months. While conservative groups fight to reverse the decision of the courts, they fail to realize that by saying that marriage is between a man and a woman and that a family is man, woman and child (or children), that they are alienating a large group of people and also taking away the rights to and, if nothing else, the title of "family" from many single parent and alternative households.

Many studies have shown that kids growing up in same sex households are no worse off than those who grow up in more traditional families. Look at the Tanners for instance, they did a fine job raising 3 young women in a house full of men! Even with the research (and 8 seasons of proof), the various organizations against Gay Marriage have come up with Prop 8 which would amend the CA constitution to ban gay marriage.

The original title of the Proposition was a "limit on marriage". The Attorney General Jerry Brown changed the title to "eliminates (the) right of same-sex couples to marry." Although the opposition to Gay Marriage has fought against this title saying it's biased, after losing two appeals, they have dropped the challenge. Although they would argue the title goes too far, I would say it's just right. I think the original title is an absolute farce. Now that I am 21, I really enjoy drinking beer. I can drink as many as my body can handle but there is a limit on how many I can drink and still drive home. Limits like this are imposed so I don't kill anybody or myself. While my rights as a citizen have not been taken away, I am limited in my actions while intoxicated. So while I can't drink and drive, I can still go out, I can experience all the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else. I think this is the most important point, a limit suggests one gets to keep their rights and responsibilities. By banning Gay Marriage, you take away a large group of people's rights and responsibilities. You take away their right to be treated equally among their peers, to be with the person they love legally, and for the child to be taken care of by the second parent if something were to happen to the other.

It's all nice and good that some companies are recognizing and supporting long term partners or that civil union status is being granted so that certain benefits can be shared, but as long as we prevent a group of people from being able to experience the same quality of life and rights as from the majority, we will continue to perpetuate the "separate but equal" stance that America seems to have been built on (from the physical slavery we enforced in our past, to the economic slavery so many Americans experience on a daily basis today, to the blatant laws that prevent same sex couples to marry).

I am personally very proud that I live in a state that has gone against the norm to provide rights to a greater majority of its citizens. My hope is that California's willingness to do this will rub off on other states and eventually the US as a whole. If we can keep providing rights to all citizens in the US and treating each other respectfully and equally, we can start moving towards a way of life closer to the American Ideal. What troubles me the most is how so many people don't care. It doesn't seem to bother them that the person sitting next to them in class, the good friend they have had since high school, or the cook at their favorite restaurant, will never experience the same rights that they have. Empathy aside (because a lot of people don't seem to have it these days), a lot of people fail to see the further reaching implications of such legislation. The same people who are trying to end or prevent gay marriage are the same people who are trying to end the sexual and health rights of heterosexual individuals. As Dan Savage so bluntly (and MAYBE a little vulgar) puts it at the end of one of his articles:

"The GOP's message to straight Americans: If you have sex, we want it to fuck up your lives as much as possible. No birth control, no emergency contraception, no abortion services, no lifesaving vaccines. If you get pregnant, tough shit. You're going to have those babies, ladies, and you're going to make those child-support payments, gentlemen. And if you get HPV and it leads to cervical cancer, well, that's too bad. Have a nice funeral, slut."

In that same article, he references an excellent article written by Russell Shorto that details the conservatives' war on contraception. There are many more freedoms that we, as heterosexuals, stand to lose if these groups against gay marriage start to gain more ground. It's easy to not care about gay marriage if it doesn't affect you or someone you know, but how would you feel if they began to take away a woman's right to choose? How would you feel if they took away the morning after pill, the HPV vaccine, birth control or Condoms? This may be a little extreme but if it was up to some of these "family" groups, that's the way it would be. Imagine where we would be if abstinence only education was the only thing offered in schools? If you don't think your vote counts for president or that it doesn't matter who it is, remember who appoints judges and other high ranking officials, as well as the "experts" to work for them. Under Bush, we spent $204M on abstinence only programs in the U.S. and we also put a clause on the money that we sent for AIDS relief for other countries that a certain amount should be spend on abstinence only education as opposed to condoms, drugs, and safety education.

This concept may seem a little farfetched and a little off topic to some but the two are more related then you think. So if you don't vote or voice your opinion for the rights of others this November, do it for yourself!