Support equal marriage rights for all people
September 29, 2006
Already the e-mails and flyers are starting to circulate. Professors are talking, and it’s going to be the hot-button issue for the next month. Students are being told we have a chance to make a difference about the upcoming vote on the proposed gay marriage and civil union ban, but it seems like we’ve heard the “students can make a difference” line before.
Two years after the national student population was supposed to rally together and oust our idiotic president, he’s still in office making an even bigger mess with Iraq, Katrina, the national debt, and so on (and on, and on).
But this vote coming up in November is different. The issue of legalizing a gay marriage and civil union ban is new to the nation, and it is the first time the state of Wisconsin has brought the issue to the polls. In 2004, Wisconsin was one of the nation’s leaders in student voting participation, and if that same voting base will cast ballots again, it’ll make a huge impact. “Why vote down a ban that you don’t know much about or might agree with?” you may ask.
If the idea of homosexual relationships is so unappealing — or not important enough to vote about — take a moment to break it down to its essentials.
The fear of something new is frightening. Following a routine behavioral pattern is comforting to most because they know what to expect and how to react. For years and years we students were raised in a mainstream culture that promoted only heterosexual relationships, and presumptively, that was the normal, routine thing to do. Anything that deviated from that was weird.
All that is changing now.
Homosexuality is becoming understood and accepted by our generation because of TV, the Internet and other media types. Most importantly, homosexuals — some of whom have been living in fear of ridicule and abandonment — are finding the courage to come out and represent themselves on a personal and social level, and many are establishing themselves as responsible, law-abiding citizens.
Discussing new issues and political ideas is difficult without proper information and knowledge. Furthermore, sexuality and personal relationships are touchy subjects in our society. It wouldn’t be socially permissible to walk around inquiring about people’s sexual makeup or orientation. Some feel embarrassed, some feel offended
and others feel uncomfortable. For these reasons, this issue is especially difficult for some to discuss or form an opinion.
To this day, I have yet to hear an argument that is meaningful and persuasive enough to take any supporters of this ban seriously. Some feel it would open the door to other types of marriage or otherwise destroy the sanctity of marriage, but that is absurd. There is no room for “slippery slope” fallacies in law, and there are no legal terms that identify how the sanctity of marriage depends on having women and men marry. The Bible may describe a certain arrangement for marriages, but our legal system cannot start using religious beliefs to dictate who is given civil rights.
Equal civil rights are guaranteed to every law-abiding citizen in our country. Homosexuals should be able to have the same marital benefits, responsibilities and opportunities as everyone else under the law, and that is a Constitutional right. If there is any justice in this country, 50 years from now gay marriage and civil union bans will be seen as an embarrassing blemish of our nation’s history.
The students’ vote in November’s election is especially important because our generation is more likely to have openly-gay friends than any other age group, and we’ll be more likely to express our support to the homosexual community because of that.
Use whatever reason you wish to vote on Nov. 7 — it’s your moral obligation, it’s your democratic duty, it’s the right thing to do. In any case, we students actually do have an opportunity to show the rest of the country and the world that we are on the forefront of Wisconsin’s wealth of knowledge, inclusiveness and social progression, and that would be incredibly gratifying.
Ben Jipson is a student at UW-River Falls.