Same-sex marriage opponents lack believable arguments

By Boswell Hutson

For once I’ve found myself more prideful of my politicians than I was the day before, so it begs the question: Why did it take so long? 

Well, earlier this week, it was announced that the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate finally passed bill SB 10, stating that same-sex marriage is to be legalized in Illinois (which Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign Tuesday at the University of Illinois at Chicago), making us the 15th state in the U.S. to have equal marriage rights.

Don’t get me wrong, winning the political battle over same-sex marriage is immensely important to me. As someone with progressive values, it shows that our country is slowly but surely advancing toward equal rights for all humans. 

I would much rather have the bill passed in 2013 than never have it passed at all. And I also understand that it has faced a pretty staunch political fight up until this point, but I don’t really understand why.

If one person could articulate to me a legitimate reason why gays and lesbians shouldn’t have the right to be married, I would surely listen to what they had to say out of pure curiosity. The problem is, though, that none of them have remotely convinced me of the rationality of their opposition.

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The first, and most common, argument I hear against same-sex marriage is the one that bases its claims in religion. I’m not an expert on religious texts and I won’t pretend to be one, but those who argue this angle must remember that while many in the United States have religious values, the United States itself was intended to be a secular country. 

The separation of church and state has long been discussed by our Founding Fathers in reference to the First Amendment, and the fact that any given religion has a stance on homosexuality should have absolutely no bearing on what should be legal.

Other, more logical, arguments against same-sex marriage exist but are still completely faulty. For example, many opponents of same-sex marriage claim that it will result in a slippery slope of marriage acceptance. These are the people that think if we allow same-sex marriage now, other stigmatized groups with nontraditional marriage beliefs will soon push for their respective marriage rights. 

For example, same-sex marriage opponents use polygamy as an example to emphasize that if we legalize same-sex marriage, we will eventually allow individuals to have several husbands and wives, too. These opponents are scared about where to draw the line.

To these people, I only have one response: Are you kidding me? Some people seriously think that once we allow same-sex marriage, we’ll suddenly be opening the door for people to get married to multiple partners. 

This comparison is unfair considering that the goals of marriage equality are different for gays and polygamists: One focuses on the right to marry someone of the same sex, the latter usually focuses on marrying multiple people of the opposite sex. They just aren’t on the same playing field. 

One of the absolute worst arguments I hear on the issue, however, is that marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman, and solely between a man and a woman. Not only is this blatantly untrue (the Oxford English Dictionary recently amended the definition of marriage to include gay couples), but also riddled with fallacies. 

The definition of marriage has never been stagnant. As we have evolved as a society and as progressive values have won over the population, marriage, too, has evolved with us.

Marriage, for example, used to be defined as the union between two people of the same race until the Supreme Court over-ruled it in Loving v. Virginia in 1967. The opposition to this ruling seems intolerant, much like those who oppose same-sex marriage seem now. 

Sometimes all it takes is a look back at history to gauge our own values, and it’s pretty easy to tell who will be remembered as being on the wrong side of it.

By denying people who are gay the right to get married, we are not only denying them a societal comfort, but also specific rights that would otherwise be guaranteed to heterosexual couples, whether it be hospital visitation rights or court testifying exemptions. 

To withhold these rights, especially when the arguments countering them are based in almost nothing, is an affront to humanity. Good for you, Illinois, for realizing a problem and correcting it, but why is it taking so long for those on the right side of the aisle to realize this? 

How it’s 2013 and some individuals are just not gaining their rights to marry, I just don’t get.

Boswell is a junior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected].