Marriage equality is about more than just allowing gays to marry…

The battle for recognition of gay marriage in this country is not just about marriage. The US has a history of marriage restriction laws. Not legally recognizing someone’s union has always been an overt signal to those people that they are not valid members of our society.

During slavery, the marriages of slaves to one another were not recognized by any authority. When slaves got married, they did not say in the ceremony, “let no man put asunder.” That was because a man could put them asunder, legally and at any time: their owner.

After slavery was abolished, the marriage of members of non-white minority groups to white people were not legally recognized in many states until that was deemed unconstitutional in 1967. Society as a whole was signaling to members of ethnic minority groups that they were a sub-class. They were to remain on the outside. It is worthwhile to note that opponents of inter-racial marriage also made the argument that it was forbidden by the Christian religion, and pointed to Bible verses to support that claim. Today inter-racial marriage is accepted by a majority of Americans and the President of the United States is a child of a mixed marriage.

That is why the issue of gay marriage is more than about whether two people of the same gender can get married. It is about whether a group of people are not recognized as full citizens under the law, with all the same rights and benefits as other Americans. It is about whether our society is telling gay people that they don’t count; the families they form don’t count; they are not full Americans.

Regardless of what any of us believe about homosexuality personally, regardless of what our religions teach us about homosexuality, none of us should be able to tell two American adults that they don’t have the exact same rights as the rest of us. We should continually strive to create a country according to our stated ideals, where all people are created equal.

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