Equal Marriage, Equal Rights, Equality
Recently Julian Clary spoke out in favour of marriage equality, likening it to the struggle for women’s suffrage one hundred years ago. In doing so he has made the vital link that these are both matters of civil and human rights and freedoms, not of religious opinions. The same link was made last week in America when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People voted overwhelmingly to support marriage equality,1 describing it as
one of the key civil rights struggles of our time.2
The NAACP states
When people ask why the NAACP stands firmly for marriage equality, we say that we have always stood against laws which demean, dehumanize, or discriminate against any person in this great country. That is our legacy. For over 103 years we have stood against such laws, and while the nature of the struggle may change, our bedrock commitment to equality of all people under the law never will.”3
In re-framing marriage equality in this way the debate has been moved into its proper context – not one of vilification of the religious views of anyone, LGBT or otherwise, but rather into the sphere of civil and human rights and freedoms.
It is significant to see the same sorts of arguments surface against marriage equality as were commonly used by those who, one hundred years ago, opposed the rights of women to vote.
It is ‘against nature’, it ‘breaks God’s laws and social order’, it is ‘dangerous and will lead to disaster’ – all of these objections were validated by Biblical ‘proof texts’ to show that they were ‘right’ and that women should never be given the vote. Thankfully they did not succeed. Neither will those who oppose marriage equality based on prejudice and ignorance, supported by Biblical ‘proof texts’. Victor Hugo is credited with saying ‘you can resist an invading army but you cannot resist an idea whose time has come’. The time has come for marriage equality.
1 Text of the Resolution passed on 19 May 2012. ” The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the “political, educational, social and economic equality” of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.” http://www.naacp.org/press/entry/naacp-passes-resolution-in-support-of-marriage-equalit
2 Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP
May 21, 2012 http://www.naacp.org/press/entry/remarks-from-naacp-press-conference-on-resolution-supporting-marriage-equal
3 Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors
May 21, 2012. http://www.naacp.org/press/entry/remarks-from-naacp-press-conference-on-resolution-supporting-marriage-equal