I don't think that I need to tell anyone how important tomorrow's elections will be for our country as a whole. A new president is a significant possibility for our country, as is a second term for an existing president. Either way, the cloud of uncertainty will lift and American's will know exactly what to expect of our country for the next four years. However, it's important to note that Obama vs. Romney is not the only important issue that is being voted on tomorrow. For citizens of Maine, Washington, Maryland and Minnesota, the issue of same-sex marriage will be on the ballot for the public to vote on.
The public has directly voted on the issue of same-sex marriage several times. 30 states have had it on the ballot at one time or another and none of them have actually approved it. Many argue that this is default proof that the American people are not in favor of same-sex marriage and that allowing the LGBT community the right to marry one another is simply not something that our country is ready for. This is an argument that I vehemently, with all of my heart, reject.
A study recently published in The Wall Street Journal showed the averages of multiple PEW Research Center surveys taken on the subject of same-sex marriage. The data shows that this generation is more in favor of same-sex marriage than any others that have preceded it. This isn't necessarily shocking news, but what was interesting was that the article framed the data by saying that it is evidence that American's attitudes toward same-sex marriage is on the cusp of change.
I ask readers to take a moment and think about what that means. The attitude of this country toward the rights and privileges of every single person in the LGBT community to marry the person that he or she loves is on the cusp of going from "unacceptable" to "acceptable." This issue needs to be off the cusp and on the right side of history. It's not going to happen with a push, it's going to happen with a shove.
Another article in the The Wall Street Journal told the story of a man in Maine who was approached by a canvasser for the proponents of same-sex marriage in the state. His church published a newsletter asking readers not to redefine traditional marriage. However, after speaking with the canvasser, he has since changed his mind and now believes that voting in favor of gay marriage is "fair." A "no" was turned into a "yes" with just a brief conversation about the issue at hand.
Many people think that casting a vote for Obama or Romney is enough to lay your allegiance to one side of this issue or another - it's not. If we allow this decision to rely on the deliverance of campaign promises, we're fools. The stakes are too high. Tomorrow's vote will be one of the rare occasions in which people are directly able to vote for or against the issue. Maine, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota are in a position to set an example for others in our nation. To say, for the first time, that a collective group of voters want the LGBT community to have the right to marry and that, given the chance, we won't allow anyone to stand in their way ever again.
The notion that gay marriage will happen in due time or when it is ready is perhaps the most vile and condescending misconception that plagues us today. Why should these hard-working, law-abiding citizens of our nation have to wait until anyone else is ready for them to have this basic freedom?
The research is in and the groundwork has been set. Americans are ready for this and we owe it to the LGBT community to give them the same basic rights that every other American enjoys. I urge everyone to take time out of their viewing of the presidential election coverage tomorrow night and take a second to see what the citizens of these four states are doing because the spotlight for this theater of the battle is on them. Furthermore, I urge the citizens of these four states to set an example for the rest of the country and be the first unelected group of people to say "yes, they deserve this," because the power is in the hands of this generation and we need to use it to put this issue behind us where it belongs and has belonged for several years.
This op-ed originally appeared in The Daily Campus