Gay Issues

Wisconsin Bans Same-Sex Marriage, Thanks Religious Fringe

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When the state legislature of Wisconsin was debating a ban on same-sex marriage by amending its state constitution to do so, I testified a number of times against such a ban. Unfortunately, it passed. I don't remember what I exactly said, the notes I wrote are long gone. I hope I was as eloquent as possible for the cause of equal rights.

Those on the opposite side tried to do the same, I am sure. Unfortunately, I saw a pattern. Every single individual who testified for a ban quoted the Christian bible in their opposition to even the thought of one day having same-sex marriages in Wisconsin. To them it was immoral and against their God's commands.

But so were interracial marriages to many folks who trusted their bibles 50 years ago. Not many people here in progressive Wisconsin believed that, of course, but certainly it was true in Alabama and Mississippi. In fact, in those states, bans on such marriages were not only law but supposed doctrine endorsed by the Christian deity. For decades after the 1967 Loving V. Virginia Supreme Court decision that overturned state bans, there was much popular support for legislation outlawing interracial marriages in these states.

Ah, but some will say, they aren't the same. Skin color can't be changed while sexual orientation can. First, sexual orientation is clearly a product of nature. Scientists have documented time and time again animals throughout the animal kingdom that are homosexual. This goes from closely related primates to fruit flies. Quite a range. We are a member of the Animal Kingdom and we aren't divorced from the fact that we would also have homosexual members. Anyway, an appeal to what is immutable isn't a good way to decide public policy. After all, would we say there shouldn't be any protections, be it in the law or in the state or federal constitutions, for religious beliefs?

After all, no other species other than homo sapiens have religious beliefs. So, sexual orientation is much more natural than religion. But it would be wrong to say that two Catholics or two Jews or two Lutherans can't marry even though a Catholic man could still be attracted to a Lutheran woman. A gay man, though, is not attracted to a woman and has no desire to marry someone of the opposite sex. Bu, we shouldn't limit liberty. Just because a Catholic man can marry a woman of a differing religion is no reason to state he can only marry someone who is or isn't a Catholic. We value choice, but unfortunately at this moment, not if you are gay.

The fact is, same-sex marriages will come. Young people are strongly supportive of gay rights and the right and ability for a person to marry someone he or she loves, be it of the opposite or same sex. America is a nation always in the process of living up to its great ideals. We did so by ensuring women had the right to vote and we did so by ending bans on interracial marriage.

We must continue that progress.

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