By Evan Wolfson: ANALYSIS: Why should I be for 'gay marriage'?
Freedom to Marry
December 3, 2003
Americans believe in fairness, freedom, and equality for all. Most of us also cherish family and recognize how important it is to each human being to have security and protections for our loved ones as we build lives together. Most Americans believe that the freedom to marry strengthens families, and that supporting families builds stronger communities for us all. And most Americans are coming to understand that gay people, like other human beings, want security, respect, and equality, treasure our families, and want and need the freedom to marry.
We are asking for marriage, not "gay marriage" — that's the short-hand term that our opponents use to make gay people's families seem different or lesser. The truth is we're working for an end to discrimination in marriage itself — the same rules and responsibilities, the same protections, the same dignity, the same commitment, the same opportunity to declare your love for another person with whom you build a life. Same-sex couples want the equal choice — the freedom to marry — not two lines at the clerk's office for separate and unequal treatment.
There are many reasons to support the marriage equality movement. The children raised by same-sex couples need and deserve the protections and security marriage can bring to their families. Along with marriage's responsibilities come certain financial benefits that make life easier, especially in a difficult economy. From government tax incentives to cheaper "family membership" rates, from the ability to assure a spouse's health care in times of crisis to the right to inherit his or her hard-earned pension or Social Security — these are just a few aspects of economic well-being available to married couples that gay couples are legally prevented from sharing.
In a democracy founded upon the principles of fairness, there is no justice in being barred from marriage, a legal institution regulated by the government through the issuance of marriage licenses. Freedom of religion ensures that each religion can decide for itself whether or not to marry any particular couple, but no religion should dictate to government who gets a marriage license. If gay people are considered equal citizens when it comes to paying taxes and obeying laws, then we should have access to the same marital rights held by other citizens.
This is not the first time our country has struggled over exclusion from and discrimination in marriage. Previous chapters in American history have seen race discrimination in marriage (ended only in 1967), laws making wives legally inferior to husbands (changed as late as the 1970's and 1980's), resistance to allowing people to end failed or abusive marriages through divorce (fought over in the 1940's and 1950's), and even a refusal to allow married and unmarried people make their own decisions about whether to use contraception or raise children (decided in 1965).
In each of these struggles, opponents of equality claimed that the proposed change was "against the definition of marriage" and "against God's will." Many of the same gloom-and-doom claims are made today by the same kind of opponents, now seeking to prevent loving same-sex couples from taking on the legal commitment of marriage. Fortunately, our country rejected the "sky is falling" claims of opponents and made marriage a more inclusive and fair commitment of equals. As the Massachusetts court and others have made clear, government simply has no good reason for continuing to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses.
We invite you to join with Freedom to Marry, the gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. This website will provide you with a wealth of information about us, and the history of our struggle, including information from those whose opinions differ from ours.
Working together, we can win the freedom to marry for all citizens.
Support the Respect for Marriage Act by contacting your legislative leaders and friends.(Link)
Make sure LGBT families and people are accurately counted in the 2010 census.(Link)
A new report shows the past 10 years have been a period of dramatic gains in equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in America, including sharp increases in the number of LGBT Americans protected by family recognition legislation at the state level. (Link)
Learn more about the 13th annual Freedom to Marry Week, February 8-14, 2010. (Link)