Picture a presidential candidate making his pre-election rounds. Shaking hands, kissing babies — you know the drill. He stops to talk to a few people in a diner to connect with the common folk. He’s asked a very basic question from a man having breakfast. All the man wants to know is if the candidate is going to give him the same equal rights as the rest of society. After all, this man is a taxpayer who worked his whole life. He even enlisted in the Army and fought in Vietnam. Surely this man — a hard-worker who laid his life on the line for his country — doesn’t have to worry about basic rights being afforded to others and not him, right?
Presidents have a multitude of issues with which they have to deal, representing 314 million different people. Candidates can (and should for that matter) differ on things like economic issues, domestic policy, foreign affairs and job creation. Bringing different approaches and philosophies is all well and good. But there has to be a foundation solid enough on which to build. And if that foundation — at its most basic level — doesn’t include equal rights for every citizen, then you simply aren’t qualified to lead this nation.
I’ve heard all the excuses before.
- “My religion says marriage is between one man and one woman.” Well, OK. But your religion (whatever that religion may be), is not universal. It is not the law of the land. In fact, there exists a pretty important document which specifically designates a separation of church and state. So while you’re absolutely free to believe in whatever you want and practice it freely, you don’t get to force-feed it to the rest of us who want no part of it.
- “Just because I’m against gay marriage doesn’t mean I’m a bigot.” Actually, it does. By saying you’re against gay marriage, you’re saying you’re against equal rights. You’re saying a certain segment of the population should be treated as second-class citizens, based solely on their sexual orientation. It is no different — no different at all — than saying black people shouldn’t get married because of the color of their skin. All this is is substituting sexual orientation for race.
- “If you let two men/women marry each other then people will be able to marry their dogs or cats.” If I have to explain how comparing animals to gay people is obnoxiously insulting and ridiculous, maybe you should click elsewhere now and save us all the time.
And that’s the troubling thing about that Mitt Romney video. He sat down with an undecided voter to answer a question and have a discussion. Then, without even blinking or showing a modicum of compassion or understanding, he flatly and unequivocally tells that man he’s not good enough. That he won’t be treated equally. Because Mitt Romney’s religious beliefs dictate that marriage is between one man and one woman, he’s going to take whatever steps possible to make sure his discriminatory practices become the norm for all of America. And that’s a gigantic problem.
Romney is known for his flip-flopping. So I’m sure in the lead-up to the election, he’s going out of his way not to change his mind on anything, lest he be perceived as weak or indecisive. But in my opinion, his conversation with that gay veteran was a defining moment and a missed opportunity.
Just imagine if Romney listened to what he was saying. I mean actually listened and took it to heart. Picture a presidential candidate being human enough to say even though he doesn’t personally agree with it, he’s in favor of everyone having the right to marry who they choose. I’m not saying that would’ve been enough to get me to vote for Mitt Romney. In fact, I know it wouldn’t have been. But I damn sure would’ve respected him for it.
Like everyone else, I want a president who is confident in his decisions. But I don’t want him automatically making snap decisions based on nothing but religious beliefs. I want a president who thinks for himself and doesn’t tow a party line. Because dammit, people are SUPPOSED to struggle with tough decisions and issues. The right thing to do isn’t always clear, especially when it contradicts your own background and beliefs.
But make no mistake — legalizing gay marriage in America is the right thing to do. That’s not a matter of opinion either, it’s fact. I’m not saying all churches of each religion should be forced to marry gay people. I know that’ll never happen and churches will always have the right to be as backwards and intolerant as they wish. But if two gay people want to get married at city hall, they should be able to. They deserve the same rights, privileges and pursuit of happiness as everyone else.
Because the one question opponents of gay marriage have NEVER been able to adequately answer is this — how does gay marriage negatively impact your life? Probably because the answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. You don’t like homosexuality, don’t marry someone of the same sex. No one is forcing gayness on you. Legalizing gay marriage doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly watch Queer Eye or start drooling over Channing Tatum. It’s not like hardcore GOP conservatives will suddenly flock to airport bathrooms and start soliciting gay men for — hmmm…bad example.
All it will do is level the playing field. That’s it. Mitt and Ann Romney’s heterosexual marriage will not be eroded one iota when gay people are allowed to commit to one another for life. And the only way you’ll have to suffer through witnessing gay marriage is if you have to attend one. But if you’ve spent all these years actively attempting to deny people that right, well…let’s just say you probably won’t have to worry too much about it.
Mitt Romney thinks homosexuality is wrong. That’s his right. But electing a leader in this day and age who won’t even entertain a discussion with a constituent regarding basic human rights? Big mistake. I hope America proves to be better than that in November.