Support marriage equality or …

A friend of mine once insisted that laws against same-sex marriage don’t reduce the rights of gay men and women because they have the exact same right as straight men and women to marry someone of the opposite sex. I don’t think he fully realized the implications of that:

I have to say that this strikes me as a very credible threat, because like most straight men, I tend to find a lot of lesbians extremely hot. (Or at least they say they’re lesbians when they find out I’m attracted to them. I figure with Sarah Silverman it’s just a matter of time before word reaches her.) Anyway, if the threat of lesbians marrying their boyfriends doesn’t convince a lot of straight women to support equal marriage rights, I don’t know what will. One might think it would make men lean the other way, except that (a) I’m pretty sure there are not enough lesbians to go around and (b) gay men have made the corresponding threat in another video.

Getting serious for a moment: On almost any disputed subject, I can see the other side’s point of view, even if I strongly disagree with it. The one notable exception that comes to mind is opposition to same-sex marriage.

Yes, I understand that some people find the idea of mixed-race or same-sex marriage repellant and unnatural, and they have a right to their opinion so long as they don’t insist that the state impose their views on the rest of us. As the Supreme Court acknowledged when it threw out laws against mixed-race marriage in Loving v Virginia (the best ever name for a Supreme Court decision), “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

(Incidentally, speaking of great names in history, did you know that a century ago the chief proponent of a constitutional amendment against mixed-race marriage was a Georgia Congressman named, and I am not making this up, Seaborn Roddenbery?)

Apparently realizing they need something more than their own prejudice to convince decent people to oppose marriage equality, opponents have taken to claiming that same-sex marriage in some unclear way endangers traditional mixed-sex marriage. Hence, for example, we have a federal anti-marriage-rights law with the Orwellian name “Defense of Marriage Act.” If there were any rational basis for claiming this, surely these dedicated folks would have mentioned it by now. In reality, in places such as parts of northern Europe where same-sex marriage or comparable civil unions have existed for some time, traditional marriage rates have actually risen and divorce rates have fallen.

Four weeks ago, voters in three U.S. states passed referenda legalizing same-sex marriage and those in another rejected a constitutional amendment outlawing it. Several other states have adopted same-sex marriage by legislative or court action. Rationality and human rights continue their slow advance.

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