By now you’ve surely heard the news: President Obama endorsed gay marriage yesterday. There were major reactions on every side of the debate. GBLT groups hailed it as a landmark achievement for a sitting president to make such an endorsement. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney reaffirmed his one-man-one-woman stance held by most conservatives, while self-named pro-family groups decried Mr. Obama’s position. The blogosphere exploded in a way it hasn’t for some time. This is bigger than the Secret Service sex scandal and maybe even the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Allow me to offer a different perspective — that of a straight man with no religious affiliation and no particular dog in this fight. I am not the parent of a gay child; I am not a pastor in a church; I am not a minority. I’m just a divorced, straight, white guy living in Kansas, who has a daughter and a girlfriend with two children and an ex-spouse of her own.
My thought is this: it’s about time.
Look, I have nothing to gain from homosexuals being allowed to marry. No member of my family would finally be able to fulfill his or her dream if the Defense of Marriage Act were to be repealed or found unconstitutional. If Kansas were forced to strike down its constitutional amendment guaranteeing marital rights only to traditional, heterosexual couples, no one in my family would benefit.
Likewise, I have nothing to lose if gays can get hitched. It will do no harm to me if two men or two women get married, get taxed the same as I do, and can get rights of visitation and medical power of attorney for each other.
And just like it will do no harm to me, it will do no harm to you. Or to President Obama and Governor Romney. Or to the members of the Southern Baptist Convention and the thousands of pastors and priests who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds. Or to the other people in my neighborhood and the people in North Carolina who just voted for a constitutional amendment similar to the one we have here in Kansas.
In fact, it will do harm to no one. No one.
But it will benefit everyone in the United States. Yes, everyone, and here’s why: no one will have to fear discrimination. We will affirm that it doesn’t matter how or why you are different from “the rest of us,” you have the same constitutional protections and obligations as everyone else.
I recognize that there is religious belief bound up in this issue. There are those who believe the Bible has a direct prohibition of homosexuality. It is therefore logical for those who believe that to adhere to its tenets.
But this is not a religious issue; it is a civil one. Married couples have rights that are different from single people. It is therefore unconstitutional to forbid any two consenting adults from marrying. Separate but equal doesn’t work, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a bigot.
I am a divorced, straight, white man with a daughter, and I support gay marriage. There is a very simple reason for that: I am an American, and in America we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It doesn’t matter if a person is straight or gay. They are owed equal rights under the law. Yesterday, a sitting U.S. president finally acknowledged that.
It’s about time.