Firstly, let me say from the beginning that I am a gay man, and that I believe any couple in the US, regardless of sexual orientation, should have the right to experience full marriage equality! These same marriage rights that straight couples can have should be afforded to same-sex couples as well. Do I want to get married to my gay partner? I do not know, but if I choose to, I should be able to do so! Full marriage equality should be the goal of any LGTB Organization.
However, I think the majority of people in the US have shown that America is still not ready for Gay Marriage at this time in our history. We have seen too many times recently where, when put to a vote, the people of the US are still too uncomfortable with changing the meaning of “marriage” from a union between one man and one woman. The majority in the US are accepting of “civil unions,” giving what they perceive as full, equal “marriage” rights to the LGBT Community. However to change the perception that marriage is some sacred bond between a man and a woman will take some time.
In November 2008, California voters passed Proposition 8 which stated,
“Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” This vote overturned a ruling by the California Supreme Court giving same-sex couples the right to marry. Just a few weeks ago, the voters in Maine overturned the right of gay couples to marry. In that state, the legislature and Governor approved marriage equality for same-sex couples, but the voters rejected that law. In New Jersey, which currently has Civil Unions for gay couples, polls showed both the majority of citizens approve of gay marriage, but that 49% of voters in NJ oppose a law to allow same-sex marriage. In total, 40 US States have laws forbidding gay marriage in some form or another.
Only 5 states in the US allow marriage rights for the LGBT Community. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont currently permit marriage between same-sex couples, and New Hampshire will begin performing gay marriages in January 2010. It was NOT by the vote of its citizens did these states begin marriage equality, but mostly by the Court issuing a ruling that the State Constitution did not prohibit gay marriage.
I don’t like it! I don’t think it’s fair! But it is what it is! I think that instead of continuing the fight for “marriage” equality at this time, that the LGBT Community needs to focus on furthering Civil Union rights, not only in individual states, but through the Federal Government as well. Firstly, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), along with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” needs to be repealed. President Obama has supported this, but so far done little to promote the repeals. Secondly, Federal regulations should provide same-sex couples joining through Civil Union the SAME rights, totally and fully, as straight married couples.
Marriage Equality for same-sex couples will come one day in the US! It is only a matter of time! Unfortunately we have to take one step at a time, starting with each state and then the Federal government.