Saturday, November 10, 2012

Credit where credit is due in the fight for marriage equality

By Mustang Bobby

Dan Savage on why marriage equality won:

I know so many straight people in Seattle who worked unbelievably hard to approve R-74. They gave money, they volunteered their time, they reached out to friends and relatives and coworkers, all in an effort to make it possible for same-sex couples to marry. Gays and lesbians are a tiny percentage of the population. We couldn't do this on our own. A majority of the legislators who voted for same-sex marriage? Straight. The governor who signed the law making same-sex marriage legal in Washington state? Straight. The majority of the folks manning the phone banks for R-74? Straight. The overwhelming majority of people who voted to approve R-74? Straight. The president who took a huge political risk and came out for marriage equality before his reelection campaign? Straight. It has gotten better for us -- better, not perfect -- but it hasn't gotten better for us in a vacuum. It's gotten better for us because straight people have gotten better about us.

This is the heart of the matter, and although it's a bumper-sticker sentiment, it's true: gay rights are human rights. If we don't have them, then it harms everyone. Equality is not an Us vs. Them proposition, nor is it a zero-sum game. Me having the right to marry the one I love (as soon as I find him) or adopt a child in Florida, or get survivor and inheritance benefits from Social Security, or any of the other 1,100 things that are available to heterosexual couples only via that one little word -- "married" -- does not take something away from that nice straight couple next door with their kids.

Personally I have never doubted that there are straight people who support not just marriage equality but the quality of life that living without fear of discrimination brings to our society. Starting with my family and friends -- even the evangelical ones who hear their pastors rail against us on a weekly basis -- I have never doubted that they supported me as a person and shared my joys and sorrows when I was in a committed relationship. That was because they knew me and Allen and came to our house and invited us to theirs. Now it is becoming apparent that they and lots of other people are beginning to see it in the abstract; that marriage equality isn't just about your friends and neighbors but about removing the uncertainties from everyday life that marriage recognized in law and custom brings.

Stability and peace is all we seek, and it is heartening and, at the risk of sounding churlish, about damn time that it happened.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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