by Sarah Berentson
As I hope you have heard, Washington state will soon be the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage. As contentious as this issue is, it is a step in the right direction and a victory for humanity. This argument is key in the presidential campaigns, and generally the stance on this one particular issue can make or break a candidate’s chance at election. Opponents have aggressively vowed to gather signatures in order to overturn the new law.
However, it is strange that this issue is such a controversial argument when the government should be seemingly unbiased, and respect separation of church and state, among other things. And yet, same-sex marriage continues to be at the forefront of political strife, backed by arguments that don’t hold up against the Constitution.
Despite the separation of church and state, religious groups seem to be spearheading the fight against same-sex marriage in order to protect traditional marriage and uphold the values taught in the Bible. Leaving Old Testament ideas of marriage aside, the New Testament doesn’t provide the most moral implications regarding marriage either.
For example, the apostle Paul regarded marriage to be only for those who could not contain their lustful desires. Today’s concept of marriage is by no means scripted from the Bible. Polygamy, no longer sanctioned today, was a valid manifestation of marriage in the Bible. What would Jacob, or Abraham say now, if he had to choose only one wife? A book that does blatantly condemn homosexuality is Leviticus, a book that hardly contains modern universal truths.
Leviticus also condemns eating shellfish, provides punishments for adultery that range from being burnt to death to being condemned to isolation, and women must be isolated during menstruation. It even provides us with a cure for leprosy consisting of two dead birds and cedar.
Though someone can certainly disapprove of something he or she feels goes against their belief, it is unjust and unconstitutional to enforce those beliefs on an entire country.
If the Bible doesn’t provide the idea of traditional marriage and a legitimate abomination of homosexuality, this argument does not lie in the teachings of the Bible, but in the tradition of marriage. Many argue that we should not change the definition of marriage. Well, in the world of linguistics, that is all but wishful thinking. Anyone who has studied the English language understands its fluid and ever-changing nature. Definitions change all of the time.
Bill Bryson, an award-winning author, writes about, and studies the English language. In “The Mother Tongue” he notes that, “more than half of all words adopted into English from Latin now have a meaning quite different from the original ones” (78). For example, the word “nice” originally meant stupid or foolish. Its meaning has changed from elegant, to slothful, to luxurious, to modest, and by 1769, it meant pleasant and agreeable. If changing the definition of this particular word is such a contentious issue, than there should be outraged uprising regarding the progression of the entire English language.
Aside from religious groups, many people against same-sex marriage are simply uncomfortable with the idea. That attitude reflects fear of what is different from us, and what we don’t understand. It seems much worse to oppose same-sex marriage because it is something foreign to you. At least religious arguments provide something considerable more substantial than their comfort level. I wonder if people who hold this opinion have any friends who are gay. Just because something is foreign to you does not make it wrong.
Though it really shouldn’t matter one way or another, America is preoccupied with the question “is homosexuality a choice?” I debated if I should even touch on this argument, as it is one that people are hardly persuaded on. I will just say this: Though I have no biological proof to validate my opinion, it is absolutely not a choice. When homosexuality is such a controversial issue, and we live in a society that has only just started recognizing homosexuals as equals, and further, in the religious it often condemns them to hell, would anyone choose to be gay? People that are homosexual can’t hand you biological proof that shows why they are gay, but they will certainly tell you that it is what feels right. You’ll notice the same argument goes for religion; you cannot produce physical proof that your religion is truth, but it feels right to you, and that is faith.
If it were up to me, I would try to find a way to eliminate the government from playing any role in marriage; but as it goes, eliminating the government’s role in marriage would only cause more problems regarding divorce, child custody, property rights and more.
The fact is, the government does play a role in marriage, but it is unconstitutional for the government to discriminate based on religion, or tradition of a particular community. Two adults should be able to marry whomever they choose. Same-sex marriage will not threaten the tradition of heterosexual marriage, just as my neighbor’s marriage would not affect my own. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, and the legalization of same-sex marriage does not enforce the acceptance of homosexuality, though I hope it will encourage it.
I am proud of Washington, and excited for those who are now able to equally and justly declare their love for their significant other. This will not only promote a society of acceptance, but also hopefully will put an end to hate-crimes, an end to bullying, and will create more awareness about these issues. It will finally encourage, if not demand, humanity to accept what they don’t understand.
I hope that this is a step towards living in a society that revolves around love in all facets of life. An equal opportunity to marry, and to receive equal marital rights, but more importantly, a society that can love and accept one another despite our differences. In the words of Mother Teresa, “if you love until it hurts, there can no more hurt, and only more love.” And there can never be enough love.
Berentson is a senior majoring in English, Spanish. Comments can be sent to email@example.com.