Friday, July 29, 2011

Gay Marriage and Equality

I can recall specifically watching a late show of David Suskind’s about 40 years ago, where he had gay men and women, couples, talking about their sexuality. I was only a teenager, but very curious about the subject because it was so taboo. No one spoke of it, at least around me. So when I saw the show’s promotion I naturally wanted to watch.

It was a hard concept to wrap my young brain around. It went against the laws of nature, it went against the laws of religion, and yet these people were attracted to same sex individuals. I just didn’t know what to make of that.

I started college and became a psychology major. I was always interested in why people behaved the way they do. The Psychology Department often brought in guest speakers for students to listen to. I very rarely stayed after school, always wanting to get home and get my assignments done. But one day, they had flyers out that said the guest speakers would be a gay couple. I made it a point of going to hear them speak. It must have been difficult back then for anyone to speak about being gay. The misconceptions were enormous. No one knew a thing about it. They were asked what would be considered today, stupid questions such as who plays the male role and who plays the woman’s role. I noticed that the people on Suskind and the ones at my college, had a lot of patience. They tried to answer all questions respectfully and I suppose they were hoping to dispel all the myths surrounding their sexuality. One of the biggest myth was that they made a choice to be gay instead of being born with that sexual preference. I just took it all in and, since I had no one to discuss it with, I just kept what I learned to myself.

Years later, AIDS was the hot topic when Rock Hudson had been diagnosed and admitted that he was dying from the disease. He also admitted he was gay. That was news back then. Rock Hudson was a legend, a man’s man in more ways than one. No one would have ever suspected the drop dead good looking actor of being gay. This not only opened the door to more discussion and study of AIDS, but also about the gay population. Rock Hudson had a huge fan base and was loved by many. If Rock Hudson was gay, anyone could be gay. Maybe we need to think about this more?

Today, almost 40 years later, the topic of gay marriage has been on the table. It still is in most places. Finally, New York has made it legal for gay couples to marry. I ask myself what was the problem and why did it take so long. We established long ago that sexual preference was not a matter of personal choice, but an inborn characteristic. They should be allowed to marry whomever they fall in love with. Who does it hurt? After spending your life with someone you deserve to be able to be at their bedside when they are dying, you deserves the same protection under each other’s medical plans that other spouse’s get, you should get the tax benefit of filing jointly and many more things that heterosexual couples take for granted. That cannot happen without a legal union. Who is anyone to deprive them of this right which is a fundamental basic human right?

I am glad that our governor signed gay marriage into law. It’s been a long time coming. I can’t help but wonder if we are ever going to get beyond the ignorance and prejudice into a new day of enlightenment? Today, New York has taken the first step. Hopefully, tomorrow, many more will follow suit.

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