Guest Column: Same-sex marriage: ‘Liberty and justice for all’

By Nick Mann

Ten years ago, the idea of same-sex marriage was one that arguably did not have the support of most Americans. Yet today, this very issue is being debated both at the national and state levels. While it is a doubtful proposition, at best, to expect the Illinois legislature to do something intelligent, I can only hope they do the right thing and legalize same-sex marriage.

Some opponents of gay marriage, such as the former Catholic bishop of Rockford, argue that extending the right of marriage to homosexuals will undermine the very institution of marriage and, by extension, society itself.

Well, would all marriages between a man and a woman become invalid because of same-sex marriage? One cannot imagine a middle-aged man turning to his wife of 30 years and telling her he wants a divorce, simply because gay marriage has been legalized. Simply saying “that’s the way we’ve always done it” is not an argument, it is a reactionary statement. And thumping the Bible to attack gay marriage is silly. After all, it wasn’t too long ago in our history that there were those quoting from the Bible to defend slavery. And besides that, if God hasn’t struck America down for slavery, Hiroshima and Taco Bell … do you really think he’s going to do it over this issue? I think not.

Or you could take the “reproductive” argument against gay marriage. Seeing as two men cannot produce a child, it is “unnatural” for gays to get married, as the purpose of marriage is to have children. Those who make this argument have apparently never heard of adoption, or married couples that don’t have children.

Same-sex marriage is not an ideological issue. It is not some insidious liberal device for subverting the Republic. It is a matter of rights that every American possesses. Gays are not trying to turn Main Street into Castro Street; they are simply asking for the same opportunity to marry that any heterosexual American has. In an ideal America, gay marriage would be a conservative cause. We have people who want to form committed, monogamous relationships, and we’re passing laws against it?

To the uninformed, gay marriage is just another example of coastal liberalism overrunning the Heartland. Yet, Iowa, of all places legalized it three years ago. Nobody ever hears about the utter dissolution and chaos in the Hawkeye State. The last time I checked, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City have not suddenly turned into Sodom and Gomorrah.

Even the so-called moderate position on gay marriage doesn’t make much sense. “Well, I’m for civil unions, just don’t call it marriage.” That’s like putting a ground beef patty between two buns and not calling it a hamburger.

The issue at stake is simple enough. Are gays second-class citizens or not? The answer to this question should be obvious to even the dimmest state legislator or the most decrepit Supreme Court justice. Illinois won’t look any different if same-sex marriage is legalized. The politicians will remain corrupt, the roads will still be deplorable and the Cubs will still lose. But we will have made a tremendous step toward becoming a state that embraces the most important part of the Pledge of Allegiance … liberty and justice for all.

Nick Mann is a Rockford resident.

From the April 24-30, 2013, issue

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