Growing up in Orange County, I remember my mom talking about other people. Mostly good, rarely directly to them, always vocally sharing her opinions to at least herself, but often to a select few. They were never meant to be harmful, just meant as vocal commentary.

I always wondered what some of these people had done to elicit such commentary. Did they cut her off in traffic? Were they rude to her in line at the grocery store? Had they somehow embarrassed her in a public setting? While I understand the above scenarios can generate an immediate opinion, they should never be intended as a permanent response to others like them.

This is not to say that I am placing a discriminatory label on my mom. Not even close. What I am saying is that when you get in a habit of treating select groups of people a certain way, it somehow becomes acceptable.

Core Values

The core values that make up a person are related to how you treat others. But there can be diversions placed in between your true feelings and what you physically broadcast to the rest of society.

There are times when people react to situations and end up saying things that are similar to the opinions of others you associate with. Yet inside, they wonder why they said such a thing verbally to another person. True, some people really do translate exactly what they feel inside and express it outwardly – in sadness, happiness, hatred or disgust. But in general, those immediate peers can be influential when verbally expressing one’s thoughts, ignoring your true feelings.

It’s how we treat and deal with others that are different than us that is something I question.

Court Decision

Yesterday, a key decision was made in California by their Supreme Court on the validity of Proposition 8, last year’s ballot measure that placed a ban on same-sex marriage in that state, after being legal for over four months. By a vote of 6-1, the court decided that the passage of Prop 8 was valid and will be kept in place, barring any future ballot measures brought up for vote to the people.

Although devastating news to future same-sex couples of California who wish to marry, there was a positive outcome from the court’s other decisions. The 18,000 same-sex couples who were legally married from June 16th to November 3rd, 2008 remain legally married. A sound decision that continues to protect legally married same-sex couples.

Equal Protection

Given this recent court decision, there is a outstanding question that needs to be answered: what protections do unmarried same-sex couples have in California? According to California Family Code 297.5, there are a lot, almost as much as a legally binding marriage. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, it’s pretty close to marriage. [NOTE: Click here for the Wiki page on Calif Domestic Partner benefits and rights.]

Close, But Not Complete

But close means not all of the legal benefits are there. Which is why there is a push to make sure all of the included legal benefits for married couples will be part of the California Domestic Partnership law. While this is commendable, it raises a bigger question: why create a completely separate set of laws and legal benefits just for same-sex couples? All of the separate paperwork, laws, forms, details… it seems redundant compared to allowing same-sex couples to legally marry like any heterosexual couple, not to mention being equal and fair.

Gay marriage is a heated and sensitive topic, very much like abortion and stem cell research. Those that follow me on Facebook and saw my response to yesterday’s Supreme Court decision already know this is a very divisive subject. There are arguments on both sides of the issue that are either very convincing or just outright childish. I’m very opened minded and listen to all sides of the debate, but when it comes down to the very heart of the matter, there should be only one question: Should everyone be treated equally when it comes to marriage rights? In this person’s honest opinion, the answer is yes.

Separate, Not Equal

Separate is never equal
Original photo link – from Flickr user anti_christa

Many have offered arguments on why they do not want gays to legally share the term ‘marriage’ with them – religious, traditional, financial or a concern over future laws that may go too far… the list is almost endless. Regardless of the reasons, it leaves me asking some serious and valid questions: Why the fear? Why the concern? Why is it ok to have something separate to contain rights? Is it the “ick factor”? If so, why are people that focused on what goes on in other people’s bedrooms?

People in general are resistant to change. There’s an unknown factor that they are not sure of. And I can understand that. But change has been part of society for centuries now. We evolve. People adjust. Things move forward. This isn’t the stone age where the males club the females over the head and drag them off by their hair. We treat people fairly, or at least we should. Everyone wants to know that they live in a country where they are not the outcast. They are included. Not everyone is against people having rights, just what they deem is acceptable. They don’t want gays sharing marriage with them, so they support something different to be created. That’s not about protecting the sanctity of marriage. That’s making sure someone different from them doesn’t have to share the same rights. If all of this is sounding very familiar, it’s because it’s history repeating itself.

Throughout time, people have been discriminated against for a variety of reasons, but mostly it’s been males in obtaining greed and power, while hiding behind their insecurities. The fight for gay equality is just another cog in the wheel of human treatment. Women and blacks have been through it and we’ve seen major strides for them over the last few decades. Gays and lesbians will see the same steps forward. Until then, we can accept nothing less than equal treatment under the laws, including marriage.

Discrimination, on any level, is just plain wrong. Some support it by hiding behind a barrier of belief or religion. Others use it as a source to validate their method of segregating others different from them. Sometimes it’s innocent, other times it’s intentional. Regardless of the reason, it’s unacceptable and needs to be stopped.

To Those Who Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

We only ask for one thing: Stop working to deny people their proper rights. Stop trying to create something separate. Marriage is nothing more than a legal contract. It should not be exclusive to any one group, religion or belief. It’s a civil act that should be available to committed and loving people that want the benefits and protections of being in a recognized relationship. It’s not going to get ruined or destroyed by allowing it to be open to others different than you.

A phrase that I’ve used in my life for many years is something I feel would be good to end this on:

“At the end of the day, we are all human.”