Views & Voices

Marriage equality: Let freedom, and wedding bells, ring

Michelle Giorgi and Karen Madrone share a lighter moment with the Rev. Julie Peebles as she officiates in their wedding at the Guilford County Register of Deeds office on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, in Greensboro, N.C. Lynn Hey, News & Record (AP)

Michelle Giorgi and Karen Madrone share a lighter moment with the Rev. Julie Peebles as she officiates in their wedding at the Guilford County Register of Deeds office on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, in Greensboro, N.C. Lynn Hey, News & Record (AP)

Michelle Giorgi and Karen Madrone share a lighter moment with the Rev. Julie Peebles as she officiates in their wedding at the Guilford County Register of Deeds office on Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, in Greensboro, N.C.

Predictably, many journalists and commentators are saying the Supreme Court’s quick action in denying appeals to states seeking to ban same-sex marriage was “surprising.” It was not surprising in the sense that states cannot expect to pass laws that deny their citizens their fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution and expect those laws to stand.

Therefore, the U.S. Supreme Court had no choice but to let freedom, and same-sex wedding bells, ring in those states seeking to uphold their bans.

The Constitutional right to same-sex marriage is established in many states and hopefully will be established in all states in the coming months. Same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in all states and in all nations. This constitutional right is a human right.

Other journalists and commentators will write about how fast the issues of marriage equality swept the nation. That also would not be accurate.

The thing that is surprising is why it has taken so many decades to arrive at marriage equality. The lesbian moms and gay dads and their children of the 1960s were the leaders in same-sex marriage and family issues. History largely does not remember them. From the 1960s to the 1990s, the gay community, as a whole, was more interested in sexual liberation in dark alleys and other dangerous and unhealthy places than in marriage equality.

Same-sex marriage and family, as a major social issue, simply didn’t register with the LGBT community until the tragedy of the AIDS crisis caused individuals to rethink their lives and seek a saner definition of sexual liberation in the form of marriage equality.

A legion of “equality” groups then shifted their fundraising focus to benefit from the new cause of legalized same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court’s decision will expand human rights, equality, and give same-sex families and their children the much delayed dignity they have long deserved but were denied. Major roadblocks along the way were bigotry and a popular image that LGBT people were not so much interested in marriage as in forcing their lifestyles onto an unaccepting and condemning society.

In many ways, the LGBT community has been its own worst enemy since Stonewall by sexually rebelling in ways mainstream society found offensive. Sexually offensive images, caught forever on social media, hurt the legitimate efforts of early same-sex marriage and family advocates. They are still troublesome.

Society also changed since Stonewall as more and more LGBT people came out and earned friendship and common cause with straight allies and corporate America. It has taken decades and cost millions of dollars to accomplish marriage equality.

If the LGBT community had called on lesbian moms and gay dads of the 1960s to lead the charge for the issue, it might have been settled long ago. LGBT people who died in the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s might have enjoyed acceptance and
love rather than discrimination and lonely and painfully short lives.

The Supreme Court decision will not end debate on same-sex marriage. Many individuals and politicians will continue to harangue the issue and same-sex couples and their children. The “all kids need a mother and father” argument will go on for the foreseeable future, even though many of those making the assertion are from single parent, straight families.

As same-sex couples marry in Virginia, Utah, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Indiana, protesters will gain a few moments of publicity by making anti-gay statements. Same sex couples will also gain a few moments of publicity by making the life and love affirming commitment to “love, honor and respect each other till death do they part.”

History will record and remember the statements that reflect the independence and dignity of America, and not the persisting bigotry that has hurt so many for so long. The Supreme Court action is a repudiation of history and an affirmation of love.

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