Nothing Special Rights

I have so often heard arguments against marriage equality claiming that terrible damage will befall “the family” if gays are allowed to marry; implications that gay couples have drastically different ideas about responsibility and stability, and callous indifference to the well-being of children. I have been around the block a few times, and I simply don’t see it.Difference

My friend Rob is a single, gay dad. The “single” part of his status is in the process of changing. He recently brought a new man, Jim, into his life, and as they became more serious and committed to one another, he made the decision to introduce Jim to his two sons. I know that this was a step that Rob took very seriously.

Like many single parents, he had to weigh the risks and benefits of making this introduction and how it would affect his boys. Like many single parents, he is now making a go at a “blended family” situation. I have great faith in Rob and in his prudent decision making. If anyone can make this work, it will be him, and he will always ensure that his boys’ needs (physical, emotional, material) are met, and he will be there for them through any difficulties this transition may create for them.

Rob recently wrote an essay about his family, in the form of a dinner invitation to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. In it, he lays out the hopes and fears that his family shares with every other family, whether gay or straight, and how the current laws place such an unfair burden of vulnerability on gay families like his. But mostly, he just paints a picture of an evening with his family, and I am struck by the mundaneness of it.

When my brother married his husband last year, there was almost zero mention of the fact that this was a gay wedding (my mom said something during her rehearsal dinner toast about how the State of California could stick it). I mentioned to my brother afterward that the wedding was made much more radical by its mundane nature. Nothing special, just two people committing to a lifetime together. He smiled and agreed.

We could call the movement for marriage equality a struggle for “nothing special” rights.

Brendon Ayanbadejo, a linebacker for the World Champion Baltimore Ravens, and a vocal LGBTQ ally, said something in an interview regarding marriage equality about people having the freedom to choose to love who they want. I found myself balking at the word “choose.” After all, how often have we heard homosexuality referred to as a “choice”?

Then I read another essay on marriage in general and about “choosing” to continue to love your spouse after the “in love” period wears off. How “falling in love” is something that happens to you and “loving” is a commitment and a choice. After reading this, the more profound truth of Brendon’s statement hit home for me.

In the beginning, my wife and I fell in love. Some days we feel that, others we don’t. Every day I CHOOSE to love her; by staying faithful and being kind to her, by helping to maintain our household, by caring for our kids, by going to work, by paying bills. That is what I CHOOSE to do, and that is love. Nothing special.

The movement for marriage equality is a movement of individuals who want to take responsibility for one another. They are petitioning for the right to care for their partners, to protect and provide for their children, to stand together as families and strengthen their communities.

“Responsibility,” “Family Values,” we hear these buzzwords all the time. How can we possibly resist any person or group of people who are simply asking to embody these things to the fullest?

The other night we had a family from my daughters’ school over for dinner, two rambunctious young boys and their two moms. We had a lovely evening, enjoying good food, each other’s company, and our kids running around and making noise together. Simple joy, nothing special.

I know that many people who oppose marriage equality fret over “changing the definition of marriage.” And they will counter the argument that the definition has already changed many times (plural marriage, arranged marriage, etc.) by saying that marriage has always fundamentally been between a man and a woman. Well, that may be, but times have changed. The train has left the station.

Stop trying to prohibit the formation and preservation of families. You can either get on board now, or very shortly resemble the anachronistic and pitiful segregationists of our country’s recent history.

The LGBTQ community is only asking for something that we already have, something most of us take for granted. Nothing special.


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About allydavidstevens

Husband. Father. Son. Brother. Uncle. Nurse. Aspiring Kung Fu Fighter.
This entry was posted in Civil Rights, Family, Living and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Nothing Special Rights

  1. Zed says:

    The burden is on you to suggest why a product of the symptoms of a the dysfunction of homosexuality should be licensed and/or registered by/with the government.

    • Davey says:

      Why you ask. Well here is it plain and simple from my point of view, without bringing in religion, or personal agenda. The government marries everyone else and they pay their taxes like everyone else. I say if you don’t want to treat the LBGTQ folks the same way you would treat any other straight citizen then they shouldn’t have to pay taxes to a country that does not give them their rights as citizens.

    • jeem says:

      Because homosexuality is neither dysfunctional (medical organizations the world over — including the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association — have been saying this for more than 50 years, despite your unsupported assertion) nor illegal, and because marriage is a civil arrangement under the law (entirely apart from its religious dimensions, if any, which are protected by the first amendment), all citizens are entitled to the same benefits and protections, from tax status to survivor rights. There are age of consent laws and other statutes regarding who is eligible to marry but it’s not up to the government to decide if, for example, manifestly mentally ill Internet trolls are competent to wed. You are legally entitled to marry the consenting person of your choice.

    • Sammy says:

      Actually, you have that completely backward. The burden is on the government to defend it’s reasoning for treating some citizens differently from other citizens. More and more the reasoning has been exposed as animus, the type of animus exhibited in your post where you label your fellow citizens as dysfunctional.

  2. Erica Cook says:

    It has not always been fundamentally between a man and a woman, it has included more variations on that concept than they would ever admit. Before Christianity even existed people joined in unions often including no man or no women or three people or more. These were marriages, and they bled into the concepts within christianity. Many of the religions original converts in Europe had three and sometimes up to 5 wives, and they were allowed to take them even after converting.

  3. robpavao says:

    Thanks so much for such a wonderful article….your brother must be very proud of you and the rest of your family!!!

  4. Pingback: Life helps people to admire,love,appreciate,meet and get together,but it is our choice to choose which way to use | Life & Social updates

  5. APeene says:

    Really well put!

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