Same sex, same rights

weddingvectorCalifornia’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act deny the recognition of marriage between same-sex couples. To deny the title of marriage to a committed couple goes against basic human rights, against what we stand for as Californians and what we stand for as Americans.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of Prop. 8 March 26 and DOMA a day later; they are expected to come to a decision on both of these issues by June of 2013.

The Court should rule both laws unconstitutional. The hope is that a broad ruling will open the doors to legitimizing marriage for same-sex couples not only in California and nine states that already allow the practice, but nationwide.

America is known throughout the world as a free country and we should uphold that well-earned reputation by allowing all of her citizens the freedom to obtain the title of marriage.

Prop. 8 does not take benefits away from gay couples in domestic partnerships, as they receive the same legal benefits as a heterosexual couple would. What it does take away from same-sex couples is the respect and legitimacy that can only come with a marriage certificate—if it were a movie headline, it would read “Separate but Equal: The Sequel.”

And while Prop. 8 doesn’t financially discriminate against same-sex couples, DOMA does.

In fact, the 1996 federal law is so twisted, the official House of Representatives report on the act proclaims it as America’s “moral disapproval of homosexuality,” because “heterosexuality better comports with traditional (especially Judeo-Christian) morality.”

Of course, there’s no better judge of Judeo-Christian morality than a bunch of 1990s politicians.

Opponents of same-sex marriage are often asked what harm can come from welcoming the gay community.

The flimsy rebuttals range from a negative impact on children (wrong, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics) to matrimony primarily being a childbearing practice.

Wrong again—this time according to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

“There are lots of people who get married that can’t have children,” said Breyer in response to the offspring argument made by Charles Cooper, a lawyer representing the opponents of gay marriage.

And he’s absolutely correct.

Should we invoke a marriage ban on couples over 55, as Justice Elena Kagan suggested?

If anything, overturning Prop. 8 will strengthen the economy. When same-sex marriage was legalized in 2011 in New York, it boosted the economy of New York City alone by $259 million annually by way of additional marriage license fees, local celebrations and wedding-related purchases, according to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinne.

But perhaps most importantly, overturning DOMA and Prop. 8 will establish California as the nation’s poster state for equality, paving the way for future generations to accept people of all different walks of life for who they are.

As is, both DOMA and Prop. 8 deny a select group of individuals the right to marry, perpetuating the unconscious idea that prejudice is OK as long as it’s based on sexual orientation. Both laws move America backwards in terms of discrimination.

Preventing a gay couple from enjoying the legitimacy that the title of marriage holds is not only childish, it’s unfair. It reminds us of the biggest kid in the sandbox allowing some kids in and shoving others out.

There’s a lot of kids outside that sandbox now, and they’re tired of waiting.

According to a November 2012 Gallup poll, Americans have changed their minds and a majority are now in favor of gay marriage.

The same year, gay marriage proponents landed the biggest supporters of all when President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have both endorsed their cause.

As Americans we should set the example for the rest of the world—that governments make mistakes, but they can also rectify them.

The Supreme Court should move this country forward by overturning both of these discriminatory laws and make marriage equality the norm.