[Side note: This is the speech I gave today for my speech class. I gotta say, it was pretty ballin'. I put everyone in their place.]
When I was choosing my speech topic, I almost didn't want to choose something as controversial as the topic I first thought of because of how many people I knew would be on the opposing viewpoint. But I knew any other subject I picked would not have the same zeal behind it that I have for this one because of the personal effects it has on me. I not only decided on this topic because of my passion for it, but I also decided on it because of its relevance with the recent elections.
For those of you who did vote this month, I am sure you are familiar with the amendments everyone got to vote on. The amendments dealt with matters such as taxing waterfront property, local option sales taxes for community colleges, and whether or not illegal immigrants can claim their own property. But on top of these issues, was my topic - the issue of gay marriage.
Amendment 2 defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and it said that no other legal union would be valid or recognized, including any domestic partnership or civil union between any heterosexual couples as well. There were also two other amendments, in California and Arizona, that were the same issue - banning gay marriage – and all three unfortunately passed. Gay marriage was not legal in either Florida or Arizona so it did it not take away any already existing rights, but in California, the passing of this proposition was an even bigger defeat because just recently, in May of this year, gay marriage was legalized for the first time in California.
Thousands of couples who had been waiting for this moment for years upon years fled to the nearest churches and court houses to get married. The lines were incredibly long but these couples happily waited because this had been a dream of theirs for so long. Many same sex couples from other states even moved to California just to get married because they had been awaiting this victory all their lives.
So imagine being one of these couples, living your entire life waiting for the day when you could finally, legally, say that you were married to the love of your life. Now imagine the devastation for all of these newly wed couples whose marriages were immediately invalid once again on election day, when they found out that Proposition 8 had passed and their rights were stripped from them.
My older sister put it best when she said that the banning of gay marriage is causing America to regress as a nation, because for the first time in history we voted to take away rights that people already had. I think it is un-American to deprive people of the rights they so deserve, especially when giving them to them once, only to take them away soon after.
So I am going to discuss with you some of the most common reasons people use as to why we should ban gay marriage, and I am going to give you my personal input on why each of these reasons are not substantial enough to include in legislature.
1. Homosexuality is not natural: Over 450 vertebrate species have been found to practice homosexuality. Central Park Zoo's gay penguins Roy and Silo are the iconic example. They were isolated and put with only other female penguins in order to try to "encourage" them to become straight, and it never worked. They were put back together and lived out their happy little gay penguin lives. Some other species that have been found show homosexuality are male big horn sheep, giraffes, dolphins, killer whales, macaques, gray whales, and manatees.
2. Gay marriages do not produce children: If this were the sole purpose of marriage, infertile couples and older people would not be able to marry. Just because someone cannot have or doesn't want to have children doesn't mean their marriage is invalid. This is not to say that gays don't want children, however. There are plenty of gay people who DO want children.
3. Gay marriage will ruin the sanctity of straight marriages: There is currently a 52% divorce rate in America. I think that heterosexuals have ruined the sanctity of marriage on their own. Britney Spears had a 55-hour just-for-fun marriage. I highly doubt that allowing a loving couple of 25 years finally being able to wed will ruin this. If anything, it would improve it, because allowing all of these couples to marry would result in a large amount of couples who really cherish and take advantage of the fact that they finally got the right to marry.
4. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time and hasn't changed at all: It has, actually, changed drastically. Blacks can now marry whites, there was a time when they couldn't. Women are no longer property of men, men used to be able to buy their wives. Divorce is also now legal. Gay marriage should be seen as another one of marriage's progressions over the years.
5. Christianity claims that homosexuality is a sin: One religion's views should not dictate the law. Otherwise, we would not have freedom of religion in America. America is known as a country where people of all different religions can come together and embrace each others' diversities. To make a law based on one religion's views completely diminishes that aspect of America. On top of this, the bible says many things are a sin, such as eating shellfish, wearing two different kinds of materials, and trimming your beard, but that does not mean we deny people rights because they are supposedly sinners.
6. If we allow gays to marry, people may start pushing it even further, for example wanting to marry their pets: This is entirely invalid because animals are not legal adults, and they cannot consent to anything nor can they sign a marriage contract. It is ridiculous that we even compare gays to animals.
7. Children cannot succeed without both a male and female role model at home: If this were the case, we wouldn't allow single parents to raise kids. Single parents are not forbidden to raise their children. I am sure there is at least one person in here who was raised by a single parent. It doesn't make them any less of a person than someone who wasn't. A gay couple giving a child a loving, safe home is better than leaving the child they would have adopted in an orphanage.
8. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society: History has shown we are well capable of adapting to new things, such as cars and longer life spans. This is no different, it should be seen as improvement to society, not a detriment. We should want to progress as a nation, not remain stagnant.
9. Civil unions should be given to them, not marriage, because they offer the same rights without the title of marriage: Brown vs. Board of Education, everyone. We are repeating history here. That case showed us that separate but equal does not work. Separate is NOT equal. When you take one group of society and push them aside from everyone else, you are indirectly discriminating against them. You are saying that there is something wrong with them and that is why they must be separate.
I don't think that it should be up to the general public who gets what basic rights and who doesn't. Gay marriage does not harm anyone. It will not impact anyone by allowing it. To restrict someone from marrying the one they love because it may make someone else uncomfortable is unconstitutional. Gay marriage won't negatively impact anyone. Banning it just puts America a step backwards.
We have been spoonfed since we were children that every person in America has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is written in the constitution that every American has the right to these things. It's not a matter of opinion, or something up for discussion. These are our rights. Progressing with our lives, finding someone to share our lives with, getting married, and starting our own families. Sharing the rest of our life with someone we love and care about. These are all things that every person longs to have, whether you are gay, straight, black, white, whatever. Everyone wants these things, and these are all part of pursuing our own happiness.
Now you tell me, should everyone be entitled to these rights? Or should we only give them to certain people who meet up to one single religion's standards of what is right or wrong? I think that it's time America wakes up, and gives the basic rights promised to everyone to all of our citizens, not excluding some based on their sexual orientation.
It is only then that we can truly call ourselves "the land of the free."