This is a blog that I wrote for Helium.com a while back. My account expired, so I thought I'd post this here...
Yesterday, on the nightly news in Indianapolis, was a story of a group of friends walking to the campus bar for karaoke night. They were being disrespected, demeaned, and sexually harrassed by a group of males. The group of friends attempted to ignore them, but the harrassment persisted. Then verbal harrassment turned into physical harrassment. The friends were ganged up on and beaten violently merely because...they were gay men.
A few months ago, a fifteen-year old boy in California went to school one day. It was just a normal day. He had no clue that on this particular day he would meet his fate. Another boy, fourteen, came into this boy's classroom and shot him in the head in front of twenty other middle school students merely because...he was gay.
These are two stories among thousands that one could tell of the horrific tragedies that have occurred because of another individual's deeply embedded hate for homosexuals. These are not stories of old or events of the past. Both of these tragic events have happened in the past three months, in the year 2008. Why? Why do these lives have to be lost?
Because homosexuality is still not seen as a legitimate way of life in the United States. Basic human rights still are not extended to this minority. The people who run this country debate whether or not these human beings should be able to live a life of equality. Fundamentalists blame homosexuals for natural disasters and global tragedies. Politicians have a fiery passion to keep marriage and all of the benefits of married life solely a heterosexual privilege. These are the messages that are being sent to the fourteen-year-old boy who thought it was okay to take the life of his classmate simply because he was gay. These are the messages being sent to the young men in Indiana who thought it was acceptable to beat other young men simply because they are gay.
It is not until the leaders of this country stand up for ALL citizens of the United States that such dispiriting events will cease. Not until homosexuals are seen as legitimate citizens and are offered all of the rights that heterosexuals receive that a different message can be sent to Americans, young and old, that it is okay to be a homosexual. This is why gay marriage is a federal issue. A strong message from the leaders of this country needs to be sent to its citizens. Allowing this issue to be a decision of the state says, "We don't want to deal with it." That is simply unacceptable. Our leaders do need to deal with it and they need to deal with it now. Lives are being lost and there is something that can be done about it. The federal government can make this change and they need to make this change.
On the less philosophical side...we have already seen that leaving the issue of gay marriage to the states will inevitably cause practical complications. Married couples do not just have rights and privileges at the state level. They have federal rights and privileges, including being able to file federal taxes jointly and such. We are even seeing court cases of this kind being brought to the attention by state governments who recognize civil unions, and have for quite sometime now. So, basically, whether we call it a federal issue now or not...eventually it will be.
There are truly dozens of more points I could make as to why gay marriage is necessarily a federal issue, and should be approached as such. Just remember this...the next time you hear or are yourself engaging in the discussion regarding whether or not gay marriage should be legal, not, a state or federal issue, or should be left alone entirely, think on this: in absolutely no other time in our nation's history has the rights of a population of people ever been based on a vote of the people. Think on that.