Let me begin by acknowledging the reality that there are more civil rights issues than just same-sex marriage being wrestled with right now, and that these are being fought simultaneously, with varying degrees of success. What I mean is that this is the big one, the one that's taking up most of the space in the public consciousness, and that we've been dealing with for the last 6 years in particular and that we will continue to fight in the future.
The forces in opposition to same-sex marriage continue to win in the short-term--the most recent victories being Prop 8 in California and Amendment 2 here in Florida--and make no mistake, those losses were a setback for the cause of gay rights in the US, but the long-term prospects still look good for same-sex marriage. Young voters don't buy into the notion that gay people getting married somehow harms their own relationships, which shows that on this issue at least, the kids know better than their parents and grandparents.
We're also seeing more support for same-sex marriage from more traditional sources. Mike Mayo of the Sun-Sentinel has written about same-sex marriage on a number of occasions recently, and his column today really lays out the basics for people who might not otherwise have thought the subject out in the past. He makes one comparison in particular that doesn't enter the conversation often enough to my mind--that of the choice to have a particular religion--and ties it into the civil rights struggle for African-Americans.
Some say the gay rights struggle isn't equivalent to the racial civil rights struggle because blacks didn't have a choice being born black.No doubt there are people who would say Muslims shouldn't be allowed to adopt, but the majority would call them assholes, I think it's fair to assume. But replace Muslim in that sentence with a religious group that carries more local clout and what would the reaction be? What if the law said that Catholics couldn't adopt because of the fear that the children would be raised in an unhealthy home environment? What if it said that Baptists couldn't adopt? What if it said Jews couldn't adopt?
I don't think sexual orientation is a choice either, but let's say it is. That shouldn't excuse unequal treatment by the government.
After all, religion is a choice. Would we let the state (or a majority of voters in a state) ban Muslims from adopting, something gays aren't allowed to do in Florida?
And the same goes for marriage--if we as a state said that two Catholics, or two Baptists or two Jews couldn't marry, the law would be tossed in a heartbeat, and religion is unquestionably a choice. And how would you react if someone told you--as opponents of same-sex marriage have told members of the LGBT community--that you have the same right to marry someone of a different religion as they have? Or that your desire to marry a person of the same faith harms their marriage to someone of a different faith?
I wish Mayo had taken it the next logical step, but he's a columnist and is writing for a mass audience and has editors to answer to. I'm a blogger with a relatively small audience and I can afford to offend people. Opposition to same-sex marriage is based on nothing more than small-minded, bigoted fear and hatred, and we cannot call ourselves a truly civilized society while we base our laws on those grounds. If you oppose a system that provides truly equal rights for LGBT citizens, you're in the way of progress.