COMMENTARY | Four years ago, my best friend and I went to Vegas. It was a “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” kind of trip, as Cyndi Lauper would sing. We were just two single girls who were in search of a good time.
On a bus ride downtown to Old Las Vegas, a passenger named Neil struck up a conversation with us. For some reason, he guessed we were from British Columbia and had come to Vegas to get married.
My friend and I laughed it off at the time. Neither of us are lesbians. We wanted to step out onto a dance floor, not step out of the closet.
However, it did get me thinking about how society has changed. More people seem to be accepting of gay marriage today and are quite open about it. I don’t necessarily condone or condemn it. It’s just an issue that doesn’t apply to me.
So why does President Obama’s recent support of gay marriage bother so many people who it also does not apply to?
People seem to be caught up in the religious implications of the word “marriage” instead of the legal definition. Some share the view that federally recognized civil unions of homosexuals will cheapen the concept or sanctity of marriage. But based on what I have seen occurring in marriages between men and women, that concept has already been cheapened.
Many of the marriages I know of are not based on love and devotion and the old adage, “Til death do us part.” They are primarily based on convenience, finances or social pressures. Some just stay together for the sake of the children. And after the children are grown, they find some other excuse. Many people just seem to be suffering through their marriage.
So why not let same-sex couples have a shot at this “American Dream” as well? Let’s give everyone an equal opportunity to suffer the consequences of marriage.
On the other hand, it is important to note that there are important benefits to being married. According to the National Organization for Women, married couples have 1,138 federal rights, protections and responsibilities.
Marriage enables a spouse to receive health coverage, life insurance and Social Security benefits, for example, whereas unwed partners are on their own. Married couples are also awarded the right to make medical decisions for their spouse’s treatment or care in the event of illness or injury.
I think it’s time for the federal government to legally recognize and encourage civil unions for everyone, gays and lesbians included, and award them the same rights that the word “marriage” does. Perhaps we should just become a nation of civil unions and leave marriage inside the church.