Several months ago I wrote a piece about gay marriage and the impact legalization of gay marriage meant for my parents. Many people came out to support my parent's marriage, something that truly stood out to me at the time. I was privy to other gay weddings as well, and I came to the question: if two people are in a consenting relationship what is the harm of giving them the same rights as heterosexual couples?
Some people will argue that the issue of marriage should not come down an emotional level for the whole issue is about the definition of marriage, not purely the question of rights. Some have advocated for civil unions as opposed to gay marriage, believing that separate but equal was fair, something that time has shown was not fair. Not only is it not fair, but it puts a greater stigma on two people who have been in a consenting relationship for many years, like my parents.
The question that then emerges is what is marriage? How do we define marriage? There are several definitions, the most prominent being the joining of two or more elements. It should not be the biblical view of a man and a woman, for not only do we aspire to live in a secular society but there is absolutely no benefit of denying people their rights using the guise of religion. If we change the definition to a scientific view as opposed to a religious view we are upholding the principles of our society, and giving rights to all. Some might argue that priests and other religious figures may have an issue with gay marriage due to biblical teachings, and that is exactly the root of the issue. It cannot be a religious institution, it must be a secular joint union between two or more people who are consenting partners.
Another aspect in the debate over gay marriage that seems to be rarely mentioned is the effect it will have on the economy. According to CNN money, New York received over 250 million dollars in wedding related purchases. As states economies are struggling this is a surefire way to invigorate their economies through something that I believe is undoubtedly beneficial for all. In every state there are likely thousands of gay couples who if given the opportunity to get married would due to the legal benefits associated with marriage. In more conservative states it may be more difficult to remove the religious aspects of marriage, but people in these states must advocate for equality if we are truly to move forward. We need to move toward a more secular society, and this is one way that gives freedom to so many people who deserve it.
To those reading this who disagree ask yourself, what is it about secular unions that bothers you? I understand that many people were brought up in a highly traditional family, where it would be seen as immoral to encourage non-traditional values, but traditional values have always mitigated social progress. Not only do we as individuals have the responsibility ensure social equality and this is one of the few things we can do to progress social equality.