Used to be, people got married because their parents set up a really good deal. Land, cattle and even gold were exchanged upon the taking of wedding vows. Marriage could be very lucrative, if the families were careful and chose well.
Then came the revolution. People wanted to be able to choose their own mates. Love became the basis for marriage, not how much money one or the other potential spouse had. This idea has been the central theme of countless stories and sagas. Love is the most important thing in the world. When you have love, you don't need anything else. Love makes the world go 'round. Unless you live in California.
It seems that in California, love is not enough. On March 7, 2000, Californians voted to base marriage on gender, rather than on love shared between two people. Proposition 22 or, as it is also known, the Knight initiative, named after Senator Pete Knight, who introduced it, declares, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." By passing Proposition 22, Californians chose to discriminate against people for their sexual orientation and, effectively, to make homosexuals second-class citizens, not worthy of the same marital rights and privileges bestowed without question upon heterosexuals.
The traditional idea of marriage has always been that it is between a man and a woman. We live in a society based upon tradition, and there's a lot to be said for keeping certain ones alive. However, when we find that a tradition exploits, excludes or persecutes a group of people, it's time to examine that tradition and, if necessary, change it or abolish it, as the case warrants.
Had no one spoken out against slavery, owning other human beings might have become a traditional way of life for white people in this country. Had no one fought to give women the right to vote, we might have remained relegated to our traditional roles of wife and mother. Had no one spoken out against segregation, white and "colored" water fountains, bus seats and schools might have become traditional parts of our everyday existence.
In this day and age and after all the tumult we've been through in our history, we cannot simply continue to live our lives as though nothing has changed. We cannot deem certain citizens unworthy of their inalienable rights, simply because we don't agree with the way they live their lives. We cannot use our votes to negate any group's way of life. That is an abuse of power.
What's next? Labeling homosexuals' homes with some sort of symbol, so we all know where they live? Giving them a curfew, so the straights can walk the streets at night in peace? Putting them in camps to protect the rest of society from them? Sound familiar?
As much as I love this country, we can sometimes be so hypocritical, it makes my head hurt. Twenty-three million people tuned in to FOX-TV's Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? Twenty-three million! Sure, there have been numerous jokes about and parodies of the show, but I have yet to see an ad speaking out against this disgusting travesty of marriage. No statement from the Pope. No statement from any politician spouting off about family values. No statement from any leader of the "moral majority" or the Christian Right. The only statement is the one made by those twenty-three million people. How many of those viewers live in California? How many of them then went to the polls and voted to keep marriage the sacred tradition that they profess to believe it is? How did they even make it to the polls in that sleepwalking state in which they exist?
Wake up, people! Why is it okay for two complete strangers to marry each other on television, just because the guy claims to be a multimillionaire, but two people who love and are committed to each other can't legally marry, because they're gay?
What it all comes down to is this: If we spent as much time worrying about the way we live our own lives as we do worrying about how everyone else is living theirs, the world would be a much better, happier place. If you live next door to a gay couple, does what they do in the bedroom really affect you? Do you get an uncomfortable pins-and-needles feeling when they have sex? Are you unable to function on a daily basis because you're so preoccupied with what they're doing over there? If so, then I have news for you! The problem is with you, not them.
The solution is simple. Mind your own damned business. And, if you believe all gay people are going to hell because of their lifestyle, why should you care? If there is a God, then it's up to Him to decide whether homosexuals are sinning, not you. Leave the judging to Him and use your time more wisely, perhaps by spending it with your children and teaching them tolerance.
Oh, and make sure you tell them to marry for love.
M. D. Hauser is a freelance writer and editor who has had several fiction and nonfiction pieces published in newspapers, magazines and on the internet. She lives in her home state of Texas.
E-mail M. D. Hauser
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