As times change, governments come to recognize the liberties of previously "othered" people, legally putting them on par with the rest of society. This often occurs simultaneously with a cultural shift -- equality moves from being a contentious social issue, with vocal dissenting voices, to an indisputable human right. Any further criticism of equality becomes rightly labeled as it is -- prejudice.
Take women's suffrage. After about a century of advocacy, justification, and intense, open debate, the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, giving women the right to vote. In common discourse, women's suffrage left the realm of political debate and developed into an irrefutable human right. Today, no reasonable person would even question it, recognizing that doing so is blatantly sexist.
In current American culture, same-sex marriage seems to be at the crucial juncture between debatable social issue and non-negotiable human right. It's recognized in most states. A majority of Americans are in favor of its legalization, many with the spirit that it is an irrefutable liberty. Still, some supporters are in subtle ways, without intention, complicit to its opposition. And by being complicit to the opposition of marriage equality, we give power and legitimacy to intolerance. We slow the process of passing this juncture in the movement, of moving our society toward regarding it as an indisputable human right.
The reason I mention all of this is because in recent days, many of my friends who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal have been discussing their picks for president in 2016. They usually mention Republicans, such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush. When I point out that these candidates (and potential candidates) are against the legalization of same-sex marriage, my friends usually just shrug it off, arguing that their economic and other policies are more important, and same-sex marriage is soon going to become legal in every state regardless of the future president's stance on the issue. I then ask if they'd support a candidate who shared their economic policies but was in favor of racial segregation or was opposed to women's suffrage. I get the same response every time: blank faces, unsure how to respond.
Any counterargument to my point would depend on distinguishing between same-sex marriage and longer-established human rights. Any counterargument would be prejudiced and homophobic, mitigating the importance of LGBTQI-identifying peoples' rights. They realize that supporting political candidates who are opposed to same-sex marriage perpetuates the notion that the issue is still debatable and that opposition to it is still acceptable.
We have a duty to the LGBTQI movement, to this country, to not endorse political candidates who even remotely express hesitation towards wholeheartedly supporting same-sex marriage. We need to make it absolutely crystal clear that, unlike contested political issues such as healthcare, immigration, or foreign policy, same-sex marriage is a non-negotiable human right. Opposition to it should be a complete and total deal breaker, for it is rooted in homophobia and prejudice. And the political leaders of our country should be accepting of all -- all -- Americans. Anything less is unacceptable.
I'm optimistic. Considering the successes of the LGBTQI movement in the past few years, I have a strong feeling that American society is soon going to understand that same-sex marriage is an undisputable human right. It may take a few years, maybe a generation or two, but it'll surely happen. To expedite the process, we need to remain firm on our stance and never, even in the most subtle of ways, condone intolerance.