Beliefnet
Progressive Revival

Several years ago, I was asked to appear on the Larry King Show to discuss the legalization of gay marriage. I don’t know why they chose me exactly, except that I was a straight person who would vote PRO. In any case, I spoke to a gay friend of mine before going on the program, and he gave me the strongest argument I had heard yet for why gay people should be allowed to be married:

“All these years, they’ve harped on us because we don’t live a ‘traditional’ lifestyle,” he said. “Now we want to do the most traditional thing in the world, and they won’t let us!” That sealed the deal for me.

A few years later, I was having lunch with a friend of mine who had mentioned that she opposed the right of gays to marry. She is the widow of a famous mayor in a large American city. She had worked years in an effort, ultimately successful, to have the city’s airport renamed in her husband’s honor.

“My last ditch appeal, the one that finally put us over the top,” she said, “was when I asked a bunch of women in the city, ‘Would it really affect your life one way or the other, whether or not the airport was renamed after my husband?'” These women’s realization that in fact it would not is what caused a tipping point in favor of the city’s willingness to rename the airport.

I looked at her when she told me that story, and said, “Well, isn’t it the same thing with gay marriage? If a gay or lesbian couple get married, will that really affect your life one bit?”

I could see the light bulb go on over her head. That day, she said I had changed her position on the legalization of gay marriage. We haven’t spoken about it since, so I can only assume that she remained convinced.

And that, for me, is why I support the right of gay people to get married. I’m a believer in individual liberty — the right of anyone to do anything they damn well please in this country, as long as it doesn’t hurt or threaten anyone else. Gay people should be able to get married in America not because they are gay, but because they are American. The idea that we would pass a law to specifically limit the rights of any group of Americans is totally preposterous — and if it’s considered legal to do so now, I’m enough of a believer in this country and a student of its history to have faith that one day, in some court — even if it proves to be the highest in the land — such abject rejection of our fundamental right to freedom will be struck down once and for all.

Defense of marriage? If someone were to argue that a heterosexual marriage needs defense against gay marriage, I would think that if anything, a straight marriage might need to be defended against a gay single person who is out and about and looking just a little too attractive! It’s those gay single people who can be a threat to a straight marriage! So I’d say, “Let them get married already, so they’ll stop going after our husbands and wives! Damn it, let them get their own!”

That’s not exactly the argument I would use in front of the Supreme Court, mind you, but it might be a good one for any bigot with a sense of humor. And at a time like this, when mean-spiritedness seeks scape goats like a heat-seeking missile, a little levity can be helpful. It can lighten the load when the road is long, and this road will stretch for as long as it takes. For every road, no matter how many detours, always lands at last at Truth. And in the United States of America, Truth and Liberty are one.

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