The fight for marriage equality shouldn’t be this hard. After all, it’s not like anyone’s asking straight people to suddenly take on a gay partner forever and ever. It’s merely an acknowledgement that other people want to have the same rights that many straight people take for granted. Alas, the battle for equal rights is going to be a long and very drawn out one. But today we have some great news. A federal judge in South Dakota ruled that a ban on gay marriage is simply unconstitutional, and gay marriages must be acknowledged by the state.
This means that couples in South Dakota can finally be acknowledged as married, after all the dust clears.
We keep seeing sharp comments around news articles, questioning whether or not these announcements matter. We think that in order to answer that type of question, we have to look at the people affected by it. For a straight person, gay marriage is something that they can take or leave. It’s something that pops up in their news feeds on Facebook, or they see it when they read the morning newspaper offline. Maybe a coworker mentions something in the workplace, and a few people nod their heads. Free speech is a bit more curtailed at work, so the uptight coworker that thinks marriage should be between a man and woman only can’t necessarily voice their opinion. The trouble with creating a non hostile workplace is that you can’t police people all of the time. When you’re gay and trying to be a professional, it’s hard not to participate in these types of conversations. It’s difficult in part because there’s so much at stake.
When we’re talking about gay marriage, we’re actually talking about someone’s future. We’re talking about the natural inheritance rules that are limited to only a chosen set. The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered among us don’t get to have a legally binding wedding. This means that there’s always a chance for a legal battle. How could anyone say that’s okay? What happens if one partner dies? Are you going to fight for gay rights when it’s time for the surviving life partner to take those assets and keep them for the next generation? Gay couples want to adopt children, another issue that tends to light people up. They make the argument that gays shouldn’t adopt because they can’t get married. Now gay marriage is slowly but surely being taken off the table. Now what is the excuse for not allowing gay adoptions?
We see articles that talk endlessly of the concern that children raised by gay couples will turn out to be far more dysfunctional, but no one ever stops to think about if that’s the case for the children born to straight people.
It’s a nasty double standard, and it needs to end in 2015. But you can be part of the change movement in a few small ways.
First and foremost, make sure that you’re staying positive. We know that it’s tough to be a gay teen or young adult with so much negativity being thrown your way. But the trouble about responding to nasty comments is that it’s a slippery slope. You start defending yourself and then you end up right in the puddle of mud with the people bringing you down. That’s their ultimate mission: they want to make sure that you’re angry all the time. Angry people are consumed by their anger. People that are focused on positivity are driven to be a potent force in the world.
You can be angry, and vent to your friends. That’s perfectly okay. Vent away, get it off your chest. But when it’s time to get things done, you need to sit down and do that. There’s so much riding on having a clear head. The best weapon we have on our side is showing straight people that there aren’t that many differences. We still go to work, we still take care of families, and we still believe that taking care of one’s fellow man is important.
Don’t let people win when their argument is beyond paper thin. You’re better than that, you know. No matter how tough it gets, you’ll always have a sympathetic ear right here on this site. Hang in there!