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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Katzwer’s Out of the Bag: It is not such a bad thing to fight for gay marriage

Published: February 17, 2012
Section: Opinions, Top Stories

The past couple of weeks have seen amazing headway in the advance of legalizing gay marriage in the United States.

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire signed into law on Feb. 13 a bill legalizing gay marriage in the state. This brings the count of states allowing gay marriage up to seven: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and now Washington. Our country’s capital, Washington D.C., also allows gay marriage.

On Valentine’s Day, two same-sex couples got married alongside two heterosexual couples at the Empire State Building in New York City. These are the first same-sex marriages to take place in the famous landmark.

Also on Valentine’s Day, Maryland delegates voted 25-18 to send same-sex marriage legislation to the full state House, where it could be debated as early as next week.

On Feb. 13 New Jersey’s state Senate passed a bill to recognize same-sex marriages. Of course, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie has already promised to veto the bill when it comes before him.

Prop. 8—the 2008 proposition banning gay marriage in California, which had been legalized a few months earlier—was declared unconstitutional on Feb. 7. Of course, opponents of gay marriage are currently planning to appeal the decision, forcing the struggle to continue.

While these last two examples may seem to be mixed blessings, they are actually both positive steps for the individual states and for the country as a whole.

Why rejoice that New Jersey is finally attempting to legalize gay marriage when Gov. Christie has already said he will veto the bill? It would have been nice had Christie said: “Yes, I heartily look forward to signing gay marriage into law in New Jersey! Equality for all!” It would have been nice but it also would have been naive. Christie is a Republican and he is not afraid to let that show, both socially and fiscally.

And, very central to the Republican persona, is the belief that more decisions should be placed before citizens in a mass vote. And that is exactly what Christie is saying right now. Christie believes that such a monumental change should be left in the hands of the voters; he plans, now that the bill has passed, to place the issue of same-sex marriage on a ballot. While it seems pretty clear that this is a ploy by Christie to keep gay marriage off the law books for as long as possible, it is still a ploy that will work in favor of the pro-gay marriage activists.

Although New Jersey currently has a Republican governor, New Jersey has a history of going blue in many votes of candidacy, fiscal issues and social topics. I truly believe that if gay marriage goes on the ballot in New Jersey, it will be legalized. Christie’s procrastinatory ploy will only delay gay marriage in the great state of New Jersey; it will not quash it. And who knows, maybe this will be the final impetus for New Jerseyans to return to the dark side, i.e. a governor who identifies with the Democrats.

Even more uncertain though is the reversal of California’s Proposition 8. Many rejoiced last week to hear that Prop. 8 had been overturned; my Facebook feed became clogged with posts praising California’s Supreme Court for striking down that ignoble ban. Despite the general air of elation and pride, however, many naysayers pointed out that, while declaring Prop. 8 unconstitutional was a good thing, it did not prevent the future battles to prevent same-sex marriage in California and it did not erase the past prejudices and unaccepting behaviors. To these people, I say: Way to ruin a nice thing!

But seriously, while I wish we could all just get along and accept everyone for who they are, let’s be honest with ourselves: That is not going to happen. Additionally, I can see both complaints above as good things. While the past fights have been polarizing and at times cruel, they forced the issue of gay marriage into the spotlight. California’s struggles with accepting and equalizing its gay citizens forced other states to evaluate how they treat their citizens—all of them, not just the heterosexual ones. I honestly believe that had California not pushed the issue, the United States would not have experienced this deluge of pro-gay marriage activism.

And, while future battles mean more hurtful words, more stress and more feelings of inadequacy, future battles also mean that the gay-marriage bug has not run its course. The more they fight in California and the higher they take this case in the court system, the more attention it receives and the likelier it is that gay marriage could be legalized on a federal level.

When this case hits the U.S. Supreme Court, that is it. While a U.S. Supreme Court ruling does not mean that that the issue will never be broached again, it is a far more definitive ruling than anything else. I have confidence that when gay marriage goes before the U.S. Supreme Court, it will be legalized and this legalization will have ramifications for all 50 states. Not allowing same-sex marriage is, plain and simple, unequal and against the Constitution that the U.S. Supreme Court justices have sworn to uphold.

I would actually like to thank the people who propagated Prop. 8 in California. Although their heartless desire to disenfranchise their fellow countrymen is cruel and is often pursued in slanderous and libelous ways, these people are forcing the issue to go higher within the court system. While I sympathize with the pain that gay Americans must feel whenever they see a Prop. 8 poster or flyer, their strength to remain steadfast in their desire to get married and be equal despite the torrent of abusive behavior is a beacon for justice that will shine even into our future generations and will stand as a testament to equality. The more robust the fight to institute gay marriage is now, the more rigorous it will be in the future to preserve gay marriage.

All in all, it has been a good couple of weeks for the fight to legalize gay marriage. While this does not mean that these past weeks have been entirely positive, it means that our country is moving in the right direction and that this seemingly endless struggle will not be in vain.