Needed Some Time to Embrace Gay Marriage
by Kelvin Wade
I used to oppose same sex marriage. It wasn’t on religious grounds. Sure, I grew up in the Church of Christ and they oppose same sex marriage. That wasn’t it. I had no problem separating church and state. After all, government allowed gambling, fornication, adultery, abortion, cohabitation, pornography and other things that are regularly condemned in the pulpit. And by saying “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” Jesus believed in separation of church and state, too.
I didn’t oppose it because I hated gays. I think it’s too easy for proponents to label everyone who opposes gay marriage as haters. I had gay friends and acquaintances and endorsed most gay rights. In fact, I had people writing letters to the editor saying I was a tool of the “gay agenda.” But I still opposed gay marriage.
Whenever I would argue the point in columns or with others, I fell back on tradition. I thought that if marriage could be redefined to same sex marriage, then what was stopping marriage from being redefined to include multiple partners, underage partners or relatives. I wasn’t being flippant like the folks who suggested that gay marriage would lead to people marrying dogs. No, I really wondered how the state could bar those other things from happening.
Of course I had ambivalence. I often thought of the 1967 Loving v. Virginia case that struck down bans on interracial marriage in America. Marriage was redefined. But I reasoned that even in that case, marriage was still between a man and a woman. And interracial marriage in America goes back to the 1600s when freed African slaves sometimes married whites.
But after a while, my arguments didn’t sit well with me. I asked myself what the harm would be of gays marrying. That’s the crux. That’s what judges ask the state. I never bought into the idea that so-called traditional marriage had to be protected. How could a gay marriage harm a straight one? And heteros were doing a pretty good job of destroying their own marriages with infidelity, immaturity, domestic violence and substance abuse.
It was silly for proponents to assert marriage was for procreation when we allow infertile couples to marry. We allow elderly couples to marry.
As for my previous arguments about polygamy and relatives marrying, it’s an argument that I had qualms about because I usually loathe slippery slope arguments. Slippery slope arguments are unfair because it robs an issue of being debated on its own merits. And since gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts (and the five other states and the District of Columbia), none of the dire predictions have come true. Heterosexual marriage has been unaffected. No one has asked to marry their dog. We didn’t have to speculate on the effects of gay marriage because we had evidence to observe.
So going through this evolution in my thinking, I was stripping away the previous barriers I’d had to gay marriage. And the final straw came when I saw former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura on TV say he thought the government should be in the civil unions business. He said marriage is a civil contract between two people and gender shouldn’t matter. It was so simple and obvious.
And looking back on it, I think I opposed gay marriage out of fear of change. I think fear of societal change motivates many opponents.
So, for the past few years, I have endorsed and embraced marriage equality. Everyone should have the right to marry the person of their choosing regardless of gender. The nation is slowly getting it. I think it’s like a gay person coming out to their parents. One parent may hug and embrace them while the other may struggle to accept it. That parent needs time to come to grips with it. And I think that’s what’s happening in this country. We’re coming to grips with a large societal change.
Years from now, we, as a nation will look back on the issue and wonder why it took us so long.