Gay Marriage: Evolving From The Right To Exist To the Right To Gay Marriage.
More then fourteen years ago states like Colorado passed Constitutional amendments banning LGBT people’s civil rights. Those discriminatory amendments were eventually overturned by the US Supreme Court. Today gay marriage is now legal in nine states, Washington State the newest. On Friday the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases, one regarding the legality of gay marriage and if the federal rights granted to heterosexual couples should also be granted to same sex couples. Depending on how they decide by next summer, gay marriage could be legal in these United States!
Even conservative fundamentalist Christians, such as Rick Warren and leaders of the Mormon Church, while not endorsing gay marriage, have softened their vitriol and reduced their attacks on gay people. In a recent Piers Morgan interview Mr. Warren creatively re-framed the old standby position of the far right Christian’s from “love the sinner, not the sin” into “It’s OK to be gay but it’s not OK to have gay sex.” It’s the same tired message in a new suit of clothes. Let me interpret: they used to say that being gay was a sin; now its not a sin to be gay just a sin to make love to someone you love, if that someone is your same sex lover.
It’s hard for any minority group to thrive from their minority position. The LGBT population has a hard time thriving in a world where everybody expects you to be heterosexual treating you differently and as “less then” if you are not straight. In the U.S.A:
- LGBT people as a population have two to three times more psychiatric problems then the population as a whole.
- LGBT have twice the homeless rate of the population as a whole.
- LGBT people have had a more difficult time with getting good healthcare. Homosexuality was considered a psychiatric illness until 1973.
So slowly and erringly, we progress towards treating all beings under the sun as equal. Apart from emotional attachments and long held belief systems about what marriage means to a couple, why is it so important that LGBT people have the right to marry? After all heterosexual’s need no help to destroy the institution of marriage. There’s already a 50 percent divorce rate in the U.S.A. The Christian fundamentalists, the most vocal opponents of same sex marriage, as a group have one of the highest divorce rates in the country. Given their hypocrisy, I can’t help my delight when stories like Ted Haggard, former rising star in the fundamentalist Christian movement, gets caught having gay sex with his drug dealing boyfriend. Heterosexuals don’t have a good track record with marriage. Sometimes I wonder why us LGBT people want the institution of marriage for ourselves.
So here are four benefits to gay marriage in the USA:
- Less physical health problems: When a persecuted group is no longer persecuted and then allowed to live like everybody else they have less health problems. A recent study published in The American Journal of Public Health found that 12 months after gay marriage was legal in Massachusetts there were significantly less health problems among the gay men they followed in their study. This result is mirrored in the other states that have legalized gay marriage.
- Less mental health problems: Mental health and addiction problems improved when same sex marriage is legal. In the study population depression and other mood disorders lessened, anxiety and stress disorders, and suicide attempts went down. Substance abuse and other addiction issues all improved.
- Being accepted and being allowed to fit in and live like your neighbors improves self esteem and helps people make better choices about career, relationships and other important lifestyle issues. Your sense of moral worth and ability to see yourself as an equal and a valuable contributor to society are heightened.
- It’s difficult being a minority in a majority culture. Once the majority culture decides to recognize the minority people, in this case LGBT people as an important and legitimate part of the society, the entire society benefits. Since LGBT people are now happier and healthier they are also more productive and in a better place to give back to society.
Depending on what the Supreme Court decides next spring same sex couples married in any state that has legalized gay marriage may finally be able to have the same social security, disability, tax preference and retirement rights as heterosexual couples. This would be a positive message and a large step in the right direction for justice and fairness in these United States.