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The election is over, the president was re-elected, Christmas advertisements are rapidly replacing political propaganda and there is one thing that I am especially glad has been brought to fruition. In the recent election, Maine, Maryland, Washington and Minnesota all made huge strides in the battle for marriage equality. These three states legalized same-sex marriage, while Minnesota rejected a proposal to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Real tears came to my eyes when I realized that our country is that much closer to equality for all citizens. I am a big believer in the separation of church and state, and this movement to remove religious influence from the government will usher our country into a new era.
Not to take a cheap shot, but one of my favorite responses to the marriage equality movement is Bill O’Reilly’s presumption that gay marriage will lead to everything from inter-species marriage to the crumbling of the sanctity of heterosexual relationships. To quote O’Reilly himself, “the secular progressive movement would like to have marriage abolished.”
Let’s not pretend that O’Reilly represents the views of all Republicans, but I understand that the devastation of traditional marriage is not an uncommon fear. The current divorce rate is nearing 50 percent, however, gay marriage is not the leading threat to the sanctity of those marriages.
Equality means that all sexualities are treated equally. Though this may threaten the heteronormativity to which our culture has grown so accustomed, it is a wide jump to fear some kind of queer, proletariat-like coup d’état, simply because gays are now allowed to openly express their love.
Queers are not taking over the world. Even when this is said jokingly, it tugs on my nerves. Empowering an underprivileged group with the same abilities as the rest of the country is not a gift; it is a basic civil right.
“We have the right to be unique, fabulous, to love, be ourselves and to just be, in not only the private sphere, but the public sphere as well,” said Alexandra Bibbo, a CU student and member of the LGBTQ community.
Straight Americans are not “letting” gays marry; we did not have the power to take away that right in the first place. The removal of the gay marriage ban brings our nation to a status quo that should never have been threatened. We no longer view women’s suffrage as some kind of privilege granted from men to women. The banning of slavery was not a gracious gift to African-Americans. These are wrongs that were righted, and this is how we should be viewing the marriage equality movement. If you do not believe in gay marriage, you may make the decision to not marry someone of your same gender. You cannot, however, make the decision for other people. It’s really that simple.
So, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that marriage equality is not a gateway to socially acceptable inter-species relationships. Granting gay couples the right to marry will change the definition of marriage. It will change our culture. Fear is at the heart of all bigotry, and our country can no longer be held back by apprehension of different sexual orientations. It is time that citizens and politicians alike embrace the possible ways that marriage equality can enrich our entire population and move away from the anxiety of change.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Anna LoSecco at Anna.firstname.lastname@example.org.