Friday, August 27, 2010

Civic Soapbox Friday


Marriage Rights for All 
by George Kamide

When I married the girl of my dreams in July, a friend said, "Welcome to the club."

As a new member of the married club, I want to voice my vehement opposition to Proposition 8 and all other measures to prohibit gay marriage. Such measures relegate homosexuals to second-class citizens. These laws are discriminatory and, frankly, un-American, flying in the face of what this country stands for.

Proposition 8 baffles the mind. Legislating minority rights by referendum is, at best, specious reasoning, and at worst, exemplifies what Plato called the "tyranny of the majority."

Opponents of gay marriage see a threat to traditional definitions of marriage. I suppose that depends on how far back in the tradition one wishes to go. Would most women today be willing to take traditional vows that include total subservience to the groom? If not, then we could settle on a more recent definition of marriage by re-enacting Virginia's own Racial Integrity Act. Blood tests for everyone! However, if that were still the definition of marriage, I would represent a felony for my Japanese father and American mother.

While my wife and I were on our honeymoon in Belize, we had the pleasure of meeting another couple on their honeymoon. While talking over drinks and watching a tropical sunset, I could see that these two women were just as starry-eyed and madly in love and ridiculously happy as we were. Despite the rapturous mood and idyllic setting, I was pained by the idea that these two women might be denied the same rights accorded to me and my wife.

"Civil Union," is what some would propose as the answer: full marriage rights without calling it marriage. This term is little more than compromise to the point of condescension. To give, but not fully, smacks of a "separate but equal” ideology. And therein lies the rub: This issue is not the gay and lesbian struggle for legality, as some have framed the debate. It is one of human dignity. This is a familiar struggle in our history; the yearning of a marginalized group for that most American of rights: equality.

Despite Judge Vaughn Walker's well-reasoned ruling on Proposition 8, the opposition is crying foul and denouncing another so-called "activist judge." They have again forgotten their history. The first battles for equal rights are usually won in the courts before the legislatures. The ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education came a full decade before the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. It is unfortunate that legalized discrimination is a recurring theme in this country's history. But I am heartened by the fact that so is the persistent struggle for justice.

Finally, for any who remain on the fence about this issue, I would pose this question: When the world is doing its best to tear itself apart with hate and intolerance, why are we so eager to stop two people from declaring their commitment to love one other forever?

                                --George Kamide and his wife, Lindsay, live in Greene County. 

3 comments:

  1. Robert M. - StauntonAugust 27, 2010 at 7:45 AM

    Wonderfully written and thoughtfully expressed. Thank you, George and Lindsey, for echoing the sentiments of so many happily married heterosexuals who have the privilege of knowing and caring deeply for homosexuals friends and relatives.

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  2. Well said! The inability to recognize marriage equality as anything more than a civil rights issue is simply shameful. My faith in God leads me to believe that we'll one day see gay & lesbian marriage no more different than the marriage of 2 heterosexuals.

    Love is, after all, patient & kind. "...it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

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  3. BRAVO! So well stated; human ideals of love and American values of equality so clearly delivered. Thank you.
    Peter Poage

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