DECIDING A GREAT CIVIL RIGHTS QUESTION

      

       The United States is approaching a definitive answer to what the New York Times calls “one of the great civil rights questions in a generation.” Our Supreme Court agreed to decide if gay marriage must be allowed in all 50 United States.  More than 70 percent of Americans already live in places where gay couples can marry.  Same-sex marriage is already legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia.  Now is the time for positive Supreme Court action.The high court will hear arguments, probably in late April of this year. 

          This news is a relevant topic for Straight Spouse Connection.  Many readers of this blog are middle-aged or older and have already been victimized by societal pressures requiring traditional marriage.  Their gay spouses felt compelled to marry to hide their sexual orientation.  Many languished in mixed-orientation relationships for decades before one spouse came out.  They are already casualties, their damage done.  Other younger gay people continue to marry straight partners because of religious beliefs, family, social or career pressures.  This news about a Supreme Court decision is germane in all these scenarios.

          Though they can’t change their past, many older straight spouses are “paying it forward.”  Perhaps their closeted anguish helped build the current momentum toward a definitive decision to honor the dignity of same-sex relationships—to prevent future grief of straight men and women unknowingly entering disastrous mixed marriages.

          The future looks brighter for those just entering marriage, gay or straight.  Legal recognition of same-sex marriage nation-wide would measurably alleviate gay people’s need to hide their sexual orientation through secrecy, deception, and double lives.  It would diminish the significant legal and emotional burdens caused by local discriminatory laws, freeing people to marry as they choose and enjoy legal protections they previously were denied.  Thus, legalizing same-sex marriage would mean fewer mismatched couples entering ill-fated gay-straight bonds, with the inevitable pain of discovery.

          Legalization of gay marriage in the United States would not be binding anywhere else in the world, but many other countries have preceded us in this decision.  Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 18 countries, the earliest acceptance by The Netherlands in 2000.  The most recent countries following suit are England, Wales, Brazil, France, New Zealand, and Uruguay in 2013, and Scotland and Luxembourg last year.  After years of political posturing and religious protestations, world opinion is leaning toward broader acceptance. 

          Surely our Supreme Court will see the need, heed the trend, and make a positive decision to sanction gay marriage.  If even one mixed-orientation couple can be saved from a doomed marriage, coerced by family, religious, social, or professional pressure, efforts to legalize same-sex marriage have not been wasted.

 

 

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6 Responses to “DECIDING A GREAT CIVIL RIGHTS QUESTION”

  1. Louella Christy Komuves says:

    As always, I appreciate your blogs, Carol. This one is truly significant and timely.
    It will be very interesting to see what the Supreme Court decides. I am thinking if any of those serving in the court have ever experienced being in a mixed heterosexual/
    homosexual marriage, there would be a far better understanding of what "hiding" in a traditional marriage can do to family dynamics. There are numerous heartaches for all ages -- often for years. I am especially thinking of children here -- very young or fully grown, already in their own marriages/with or without children.
    In my view, the gay spouses have every "right" to be themselves; but do/did they have a "right" to inflict such emotional pain and distress on others within the dynamics of family? Here I am also including elderly parents who might have an even more difficult time trying to begin to understand and/or accept their gay child.
    Setting aside some religious traditions which still do not begin to honor gays, we now know homosexuality is much more accepted in today's society, the 21st Century.
    It seems to me that "everyone" wants and deserves to be loved and appreciated. Thus, when a gay person can be "free" to be open and honest with him/herself and others, then there is a much better chance that he/she will find happiness and fulfillment in life without bringing sorrow to so many others.

  2. Brassyhub says:

    I wholly agree with you Carol, with the main thrust of your argument. But for one 'detail' which for me is important. My (reformed) church's position is that 'marriage' is for a man and a woman. But we have just voted in favour of a specific blessing ceremony for same-sex couples. And I voted some years ago in favour of legal recognition for civil unions of same-sex couples. Splitting hairs? Perhaps.

  3. Carol Grever says:

    Marriage in the United States offers many important legal rights that a civil union lacks, such as inheritance, hospital visitation, certain insurance benefits and other rights. This is one reason the movement in this country toward legalization of same-sex marriage has been urgently pursued. Legal requirements may differ in other countries, such as your home in England, Brassyhub. But regardless of where we live, many religions object to these unions, creating one of the major obstacles to their legalization. One must go with one's own personal belief, of course. Carol Grever

  4. Carol Grever says:

    Lori gave permission to publish this thoughtful comment, sent directly to me. Carol Grever
    I have always supported the concept of gay marriage and was astonished when my husband came out as gay after 25 years of deception in marriage. My personal feeling is that all people deserve the freedom to be safe and to pursue happiness. I wonder why I am uncomfortable calling the uniting of two persons MARRIAGE for both straight and gay unions? We call people Mr. and Mrs., and Ms.. Is it necessary to identify people as male and female? Why? Are there creative ways to move forward in a more accepting society? Do we need new vocabulary? I do believe the future will hold improvements in accepting all people as valuable, and I also am aware the world can be a harsh place for anyone who is deemed "out of the norm. " My belief is that we must err on the side of compassion and love, even in cases that we find uncomfortable. I am not aware of anyone whose life has become better through hatred and harsh treatment or shunning. All that said, I am struggling with the word FORGIVENESS. Perhaps we can provide a term that makes clear that betrayal of the straight spouse is left on the conscience of the gay person who was self hating and deceptive. Love and compassion deserve to be experienced by straight people as well. We all need to be honored as valuable and lovable.

  5. Jackie says:

    I agree with you, Carol, that this is the civil rights issue of our time. Growing up in a conservative Christian area, I was taught that gay marriage was a threat to all marriage. What I see now is that the denial of rights to same-sex couples--denial of the right to inherit property, to benefit from insurance policies, to visit a dying partner--is cruel, unfair, and inappropriate in a country as great as ours.
    Marriage equality is right for straight spouses, and it's right for everyone. The same-sex couples that I know want the same things that I do: a home, a family, the chance to grow old together. I hope the Supreme Court places itself on the right side of history, not just for straight spouses, but for the benefit of us all.

  6. Brassyhub says:

    Of course, everyone in a mixed orientation marriage should support these moves, and hope that as it becomes easier for gays and lesbians to live their lives openly. It should diminish the sum total of misery in relationships.

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