Much of America is in a state of celebration after learning the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. This victory represents a long road for the gay community who, for decades, fought hard to gain marriage equality. At the onset, very few Americans supported equal marriage rights, but today nearly two-thirds of America has a change of heart. Does the shift in acceptance mean America has fallen in love with same-sex marriage?
America may not have fallen in love with gay marriage as much as love itself. A major shift in consciousness was witnessed as leaders within the gay community changed the language associated with the gay rights movement. Initially, the entire struggle centered on the message of human rights, however, a drastic change in perception occurred once the language shifted to love and commitment.
In a nation where more than half of the citizens believe homosexuality is a sin, social change can take generations. It is harder to wage war against love than rights. What is right to one, may not be right to another. America claims a Christian foundation and as such its citizens often confuse morality with legality. While it may not be morally appealing for a gay couple to legalize a family unit, it can very easily become a legal right – which should fall under the separation of church and state.
Has America fallen in love with same-sex marriage? Maybe not, but its citizens understand love, commitment and the importance of lovers wanting to protect the family they have chosen. Marriage equality does not alter the meaning of marriage, but it does allow couples to obtain family health coverage, have inheritance rights as well as protection should the union dissolve. All signs point to an America that is learning to fall in love with justice and acceptance.
When people realize acceptance is not necessarily approval they tend to relax the reigns of judgment. Acceptance is something that arises when people understand who they are while respecting others decisions to do what makes them happy. It is the ultimate realization than allowing someone the liberty to be authentic takes nothing away from the rest of the world. Hence, the prayer of serenity:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Fifty years ago, America criminalized homosexuality and today same-sex unions are legal in all 50 states. This change in direction does not indicate that America has fallen in love with gay marriage, instead it is a nation that celebrates love. Marriage matters to the homosexual community in much of the same way it does to others. It confirms the relationship status and makes public the promise of love and commitment.
Those who believe gay marriage is a sin are not likely to shift perspective any time soon – if ever. This does not mean they should wage a war against those who do. One constant reality is there will always be people who are so connected to their personal prejudices they feel threatened by any opposing force. The truth is, gay love does nothing to harm the institution of marriage and family; contrariwise, it is the things that have gone on for years such as adultery and divorce.
Although same-sex couples may seem different from heterosexual couples, they actually share many of the same values and concerns. Ultimately, they want to find love and make their decision legit once they have determined to grow old with their significant other. America may not have fallen in love with same-sex marriage, per se, but the nation has surely opened its heart to love.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
NPR: Shift In Gay Marriage Support Mirrors A Changing America
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Featured Image Courtesy of Ted Eytan – Flickr License