Once again, Al Gore gets it exactly right.
On January 17, just before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the country's celebration of, and recommitment to, the work of winning civil rights, the Nobel Laureate and former Vice President posted a video on Current TV entitled "Gay men and women should have the same rights."
In his personal statement, Gore looks directly at the camera and unequivocally comes out in favor of ending the exclusion of same-sex couples and their families from marriage. And yes, he says the word marriage.
I think it's wrong for the government to discriminate against people because of that person's sexual orientation.
I think that gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women, to make contracts, to have hospital visiting rights, to join together in marriage, and I don't understand why it is considered by some people to be a threat to heterosexual marriage to allow it by gays and lesbians.
Shouldn't we be promoting that kind of faithfulness and loyalty to one's partner regardless of sexual orientation?
...[T]he loyalty and love that two people feel for one another when they fall in love ought to be celebrated and encouraged, and shouldn't be prevented by any form of discrimination in the law.
Gore is right -- ending same-sex couples' exclusion from marriage will help families and hurt no one. Same-sex couples across the country are doing the work of marriage in their everyday lives by taking care of each other and their families. For the same reason as non-gay couples, these couples and their kids need and deserve the freedom to marry, with the security, dignity, and safety net it brings through the ups and downs of life.
And is Gore, an Academy Award winner, also paving the way in that arena as well? Just yesterday, a documentary about how the denial of marriage harms gay families was nominated for an Oscar. In Freeheld, film-maker Cynthia Wade tells the story of terminally ill Ocean County, New Jersey police detective Laurel Hester's fight to ensure that her partner receive her pension after her death, coverage that would have come automatically had they been able to marry. Watch the trailer for the documentary here.
With state high court decisions due any time now in marriage cases brought by couples in Connecticut, California, and Iowa; the New Jersey legislature preparing to deal with the reality that civil unions as a substitute for marriage just don't work; and the 11th Annual Freedom to Marry Week (Feb. 10-16) approaches, Al Gore's simple, authentic, direct voice in support of marriage equality shows yet again what leadership really looks like.
Political candidates, and all the rest of us who need to be talking about why marriage matters, should take note.
Gore is again pointing the way -- and ending exclusion from marriage is one climate change the world will be better for.
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