Thank you to everyone who participated in Love Takes Over. The event was a huge success because of YOU!
Here are some of the letters we received for you to read (http://lovetakesover.tumblr.com)
To everyone who participated: THANK YOU!
PLEASE NOTE: Opinions expressed in each article are those of each individual author and do NOT necessarily reflect the views of the Love Takes Over campaign organizers.
In 44 states, we have created a two-tiered citizenship system – the Americans who get all of the rights and benefits guaranteed in the Constitution, and the second class citizens. Though they are consenting adult law-abiding citizens, they may not choose whom they marry, are denied the rights and responsibilities of marriage, pay more taxes and penalties, have no right to see their spouses in the hospital or make end-of-life decisions for them, and are also often fired from their jobs – not for performance – but because of their employers’ personal feelings.
Gay and lesbian Americans are Americans, but aren’t treated as such by the country they love and sacrifice for. LGBT – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered – youth, in their hopelessness brought on by callous disregard and harassment by others around them, grow up in a dark place where they feel unloved. Maybe that’s why 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT and why LGBT youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.
Everyone’s personal faith and beliefs must be respected. That’s what makes America great. However, please show compassion for people who are different, and remember that what also makes America great is her promise to her citizens to try to make liberty a reality for all. This year, regardless of your personal beliefs, support extending the full benefits of being American to all our neighbors, and show love for all.
Champaign, IL 61820
It makes me feel like I do not live in a democracy. The openness and tolerance I read about in my elementary school history books seems like a sham. Even those who subscribe to religious institutions that encourage followers to show compassion and respect to those who may be different are hypocrites. The subject of which I am referring to is that of same-sex marriage. This letter is part of a nationwide effort called “Love Takes Over” (http://lovetakesover.tumblr.com) that has proponents of same-sex marriage write to their local newspapers from January 3rd through the 9th en masse as part of a concentrated take-over of the press.
While many of us will describe our personal experiences as gays or lesbians or make a case through hard facts, I am simply going to point out how absurd it is for our country to, yet again, lag behind other countries. Most Americans fail to realize that most countries consider same-sex marriage completely normal and simply just a part of living in a diverse world in the 21st century.
• Sweden: Has an appropriately titled “gender-neutral” marriage law, which replaced the government’s support for registered partnerships. Doing this actually streamlines the process by blanketing the different unions.
• Belgium: Became the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage all the way back in 2003.
• The Netherlands: Has the distinction of being the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001.
• Canada: Strong backing for the Civil Marriage Act, which calls for “the lawful union of two persons.” It has been in place since 2005 and uses language that clearly makes it a government issue rather than a religious one.
• South Africa: Since 2005 gay marriage has been recognized by including in the definition the word “spouse.”
• Norway: Updated their civil union allowance that had been in place since 1993 by passing a marriage law in 2008 that also contains provisions for the right of parenthood for same-sex couples.
• Portugal: Just this month Portugal has legalized same-sex marriage. The country also has a constitution that prohibits any type of discrimination against one’s sexual orientation.
• Spain: Same-sex marriage was easily put into law by 2005 with overwhelming public support.
Those are just the marriages; there are yet still many other countries that allow civil unions. Remember, “marriage” is just a word. Those who would like to get married in a church can do so, but the union must be made official through the government, which thereby makes it independent of the church. And since we separate church and state, same-sex couples are independent of religious institutions. Just because the word “marriage” is used doesn’t mean that the church is involved. So let’s please preserve our democracy and act with decency towards our fellow human beings.
N. E. Hall
New York, NY
Washington State voters demonstrated last November that most of us are OK with gay and lesbian couples having the rights and responsibilities of marriage as long as we call those rights and responsibilities something else.
I applaud our state for taking that important step forward — however, it is just a step. In this country we have lumped the legal and religious aspects of marriage together under one term, but in actuality there are two parts. The line between the two is further blurred because we allow religious leaders to act as officers of the state and authorize the legal contract part of marriage. We could resolve the issue of terminology by calling the legal element something else, like domestic partnerships, for everyone.
A more practical option is for us to simply understand there are two pieces. Marriage equality is not about religion — gay and lesbian couples can already have a religious ceremony in many churches — marriage equality is about legal rights and responsibilities. These rights and responsibilities are an important legal bond that protects families and allows family members to care for each other. If people understand that then we can move forward to real inclusion and equality.
Some folks say legalizing gay marriage would undermine so-called “traditional” marriage, which seems to be doing a fine job of undermining itself. The CDC and other sources report that the US divorce rate is slightly over 50%. Think about that: More than half the man-woman marriages, these bastions of sanctity, wind up being dissolved. A Barna Research survey found the following:
·11% of the US adult population is currently divorced.
·25% of adults have had at least one divorce during their lifetime.
·Divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics experience.
What does this say about the integrity of the consenting parties? What does it say about the venerable institution of wedlock? And what about the religious entities that promote traditional marriage and are supposed to support it? So please tell me, how would legislating marriage equality adversely affect this already compromised construct of society?
I contend that the reason I have not received any viable answers to my repeated question is that there are none. Further, I contend that same-sex marriage would not hurt traditional marriage. It would, in fact, help it. How?
For one, it would return the notions of love and commitment to the institution of marriage. Take my life partner and me for example: We’ve been in a committed, monogamous relationship for ten and a half years. We fell in love in 1999 and in 2010, we’re still in love. Our love manifests in every way you can imagine. We own a home, a timeshare, and two cars. When one of us is sick, the other one assumes the role of caregiver. We vacation together, we work in our yard together, we tell each other about our workdays, and we share our deepest thoughts, feelings, and dreams. My partner works for the federal government and I work from home as a freelance writer. I wake up every morning when my partner does, make his breakfast, pack his lunch, and kiss him goodbye. Then I sit down at my desk and start my workday. Around 5:30 p.m., he comes home, I cook dinner, we eat, he washes the dishes, we watch a little TV, and then we rest up for a repeat of the above. Sounds pretty typical, eh?
Except for one major thing: Unlike thousands of legal spouses of government and other employees, I do not share his benefits. I am not on his health-insurance plan. I’m not legally entitled to any of his employee benefits. If he died tomorrow, do you know what would happen to all the money he’s paid into Social Security and the government pension plan? Would I receive a cent of that as his surviving partner? No. The government would keep it. Does that sound fair to you? Just because my partner and I share a gender (in addition to all other aspects of life and living), I am not entitled to a single benefit of his 22 years of work for our nation’s government now or later.
We’ve been married in our hearts for more than a decade. It’s time we have the right to make it legal.
El Paso, Texas
Thinking outside the box is a cliché or catchphrase used to refer to looking at a problem from a new perspective without preconceptions. I would say the subject of same-sex marriage would qualify one to think outside of the box. Thinking outside the box and thinking inside the box are closely related to the way people who view the bible in a literal translation to those who tend to base their understanding of scripture according to the culture, the historical circumstances, who were the people to whom this message was directed and what were the social norms of that society at the time it was written.
Thinking inside the box it means accepting the status quo. In other words, this group is viewing the world while wearing blinders. Those who interpret the bible literally refuse to look at life or people in all their diversities. These diversities are gifts from God and add to the richness and beauty of creation. Thinking outside the box requires openness to new ways of seeing the world and a willingness to explore.Thinking outside the box requires different attributes that include: a willingness and openness to think differently and explore the options, striving to create value in new ways, listening to others, and more importantly supporting and respecting others in their differences.
The issue of same-sex marriage will never be solved by the various religious factions. The respect for one another does not seem to be there. I personally do not think this is an area that can or should be decided upon by the church. I believe that it is a legal issue since two people cannot marry unless they meet all the legal requirements; the main one being to obtain a marriage license. The requirements for acquiring a marriage license are slightly different from state to state.
The benefits of a legal marriage do not apply to those who chose not to marry or those who cannot legally marry due to an antiquated law that defines marriage as only being between a man and a woman. According to Merriam and Webster’s on line dictionary, a marriage is defined as follows: “(1) the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage.”
Is it fair that those of us who have been in a same-sex relationship for a number of years be denied the benefits our heterosexual legally married peers receive?
If we are to love our God with all our heart, soul and mind and love our neighbors as ourselves, how can we do this if we are a part of the hatred and discrimination and violence that is perpetrated against one another just because of our differences? Praise God for thinking outside the box!
Rev. Kati L. Houts
El Paso, Texas