You Can’t Oppose Same-Sex Marriage Without Being Anti-Gay
With elections less than a month away, political ads are in full swing. I challenge you to turn on your television for an hour without hearing the candidates accuse each other of misunderstanding the needs of the American people. Here in Washington state, aside from presidential and state government ads, we also see ads for the referendums that will be on the ballot. One of these is Referendum 74 (R-74). Earlier this year, the Washington senate passed the Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 to legalize same-sex marriage, but opponents of the bill collected the minimum 120,577 signatures by June 6 to put the bill up for referendum. On the ballot, the referendum will read:
The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic-partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill.
This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.
Should this bill be:
[ ] Approved
[ ] Rejected
Marriage equality advocates began releasing ads in September, and their detractors, not to be outdone, started running ads last week. While it’s not surprising that both sides of the fence are spreading their message via advertising, the content of their messages did surprise me.
Washington United for Marriage anticipated that anti-marriage equality groups would attack the bill as a danger to religious freedom – though the bill is very clear on its exemption of religious organizations – and their ads focus on how marriage equality and religious freedom can peacefully coexist. The real power (and surprise) of the message is in the messenger: the ad features religious leaders putting their stamp of approval on the bill.
A great pre-emptive strike… except that when Preserve Marriage Washington’s ad rolled out, it didn’t mention of religious freedom. Instead, they argue that because same-sex couples are granted the same rights as heterosexual married couples through civil unions, same-sex marriage is unnecessary. The ad focuses on the financial consequences for those who oppose the bill, saying that they could face “lawsuits, fines, and punishments” if the referendum is approved, and reassures Washingtonians that they can “oppose same sex marriage and not be anti-gay.”
My feelings towards this ad are perfectly summarized by a comment on another pro-R-74 ad: “Civil unions are legalized discrimination that say loudly that the LGBT love and LGBT families are second rate, less than and not worthy of the same respect as civil married couples and their families.” Granting same-sex couples the same rights as married couples but stopping short of calling these unions “marriage” echoes “separate but equal,” and history has taught us that that is not the way to eliminate prejudice.
Sadly, racism still exists despite integration, but integration was the beginning of racism’s end. Now, it’s time to take that first step regarding the rights of the LGBT community. By denying same-sex couples the same rights under the same name, we are perpetuating the idea that they are “other,” undeserving of the same respect as heterosexual couples and families. Homophobia will not magically disappear once all states legalize gay marriage, but it will send the message that homophobia is not okay.
I see no reason why anyone would reject this bill aside from homophobia. The argument that the bill should be rejected to avoid financial penalties by businesses and individuals who do not want to provide services to same-sex couples has been invalidated by a spokesperson for Washington United for Marriage, who pointed out that the state already includes gays and lesbians under its anti-discrimination law. Any arguments dealing with religious freedom have already been tackled by the bill itself. Religion is not part of this equation because the bill only deals with state-issued marriage licenses. And as far as opposing same-sex marriage without being “anti-gay,” how can such a claim be true when opposing same-sex marriage means supporting the discrimination of the LGBT community?
What do you think of Preserve Marriage Washington’s ad? What political ads have surprised you? Share with us in the comments below.
Written by Sully Moreno
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