The Associated Press recently reported that State Sen. William Sharer plans to propose a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman in the state of New Mexico. If passed, this law would preclude New Mexico same-sex couples from government and insurance benefits that their straight counterparts enjoy.
When the terms “gay marriage” and “gay rights” fall upon my southern ears, the terms “emotional powder keg” and “rhetorical can of worms” spring into my head instantly. But why is that, exactly? Why is same-sex marriage one of the most divisive issues our nation currently faces?
My understanding of the controversy is that many people, for moral or religious reasons, object to homosexuality as an action and a lifestyle. This often stems from millenia-old traditions and is cited in sacred books like the Bible, Koran and Torah.
OK. I understand that faith and a desire to live righteously prevent some believers from accepting gays as moral beings. But how vital is this religious tenet to the preservation of the faith in question?
Televangelist Jerry Falwell infamously came on “The 700 Club” after 9/11 and blamed homosexuals (among other groups) for the attacks, stating “I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.’” He later apologized.
I don’t know a religious person in my circle of family and friends, however faithful, who would be willing to agree with Mr. Falwell’s regrettable comment.
Yet it seems like some of those same friends of mine do actually fear divine reprisal befalling our nation for allowing gays the same rights of straight couples. Over the years, some of them have even told me they fear the government will force churches to marry gay couples. The overriding principle of opposition to same-sex recognition seems overwhelmingly driven by fear.
Fear also prevents a few people I know and love from telling others that they are gay or lesbian, which leads them down a spiral of self-denial and dishonesty. Say what you will about sexuality being a choice or not, but I can tell you from the attempts I’ve seen that trying to “play for the other team” is a fool’s game that can only end in pain and confusion.
Our nation’s Congress recently acknowledged that gays and lesbians are equally fit to protect our country. Let’s not stop there. Instead of trying to legislate morality and creating a second-class citizenry in the process, let’s agree to disagree for the sake of preserving our freedom as individuals.