For those of you asking how it was possible for me to come to a decision that is not in line with my religion, my family, or my conservative roots, I invite you to read this post:
In reading through a lot of garbage on both sides- lots of hate and ugliness- this was particularly impactful.
Why This Is A Serious Civil Rights Issue
When gay people say that this is a civil rights issue, we are referring to matters of civil justice, which often can be quite serious – and can have life-damaging, even life-threatening consequences.
One of these is the fact that in most states, we cannot make medical decisions for our partners in an emergency. Instead, the hospitals are usually forced by state laws to go to the families who may have been estranged from us for decades, who are often hostile to us, and can and frequently do, totally ignore our wishes regarding the treatment of our partners. If a hostile family wishes to exclude us from the hospital room, they may legally do so in most states. It is even not uncommon for hostile families to make decisions based on their hostility — with results consciously intended to be as inimical to the interests of the patient as possible! Is this fair?
Upon death, in many cases, even very carefully drawn wills and durable powers of attorney have proven to not be enough if a family wishes to challenge a will, overturn a custody decision, or exclude us from a funeral or deny us the right to visit a partner’s hospital bed or grave. As survivors, estranged families can, in nearly all states, even sieze a real estate property that a gay couple may have been buying together for many years, quickly sell it at the largest possible loss, and stick the surviving partner with all the remaining mortgage obligations on a property that partner no longer owns, leaving him out on the street, penniless. There are hundreds of examples of this, even in many cases where the gay couple had been extremely careful to do everything right under current law, in a determined effort to protect their rights. Is this fair?
If our partners are arrested, we can be compelled to testify against them or provide evidence against them, which legally married couples are not forced to do. In court cases, a partner’s testimony can be simply ruled irrelevant as heresay by a hostile judge, having no more weight in law than the testimony of a complete stranger. If a partner is jailed or imprisoned, visitation rights by the partner can, in most cases, can be denied on the whim of a hostile family and the cooperation of a homophobic judge, unrestrained by any law or precedent. Conjugal visits, a well-established right of heterosexual married couples in some settings, are simply not available to gay couples. Is this fair?
These are far from being just theoretical issues; they happen with surprising frequency. Almost any older gay couple can tell you numerous horror stories of friends and acquaintences who have been victimized in such ways. One couple I know uses the following line in the “sig” lines on their email: “…partners and lovers for 40 years, yet still strangers before the law.” Why, as a supposedly advanced society, should we continue to tolerate this kind of injustice?
These are all civil rights issues that have nothing whatsoever to do with the ecclesiastical origins of marriage; they are matters that have become enshrined in state laws by legislation or court precedent over the years in many ways that exclude us from the rights that legally married couples enjoy and even consider their constitutional right. This is why we say it is very much a serious civil rights issue; it has nothing to do with who performs the ceremony, whether it is performed in a church or courthouse or the local country club, or whether an announcement about it is accepted for publication in the local newspaper.
The entire article is enlightening without being rancourous or strident, much as I found the website the Mormon church endorses, http://www.protectmarriage.com/ to be less strident and homophobic than many of the others.
There are consequences on both sides of the issue. There is hate on both sides of the issue. There is unhappiness in heterosexual marriages and in homosexual marriages. None of that is up for debate. My opinion is not up for debate. I choose to follow my heart and embrace gay marriage. I hold no ill will nor do I think less of anyone who chooses to vote yes on 8. I just came to my own conclusion, based on research, that domestic partnerships and civil unions don’t actually provide equal rights under the law.
If anyone would like further information and clarification on my stance, feel free to ask.