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Argument: Gay marriage is civil rights issue about ending hardships

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Scott Bidstrup. "Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motives": "When gay people say that this is a civil rights issue, we are referring to matters like the fact that we cannot make medical decisions for our partners in an emergency. Instead, the hospitals are usually forced by state laws to go to the families who may be estranged from us for decades, who are often hostile to us, and totally ignore our wishes for the treatment of our partners. If that hostile family wishes to exclude us from the hospital room, they may legally do so in nearly all cases. It is even not uncommon for hostile families to make decisions based on their hostility -- with results actually intended to be inimical to the interests of the patient! One couple I know uses the following line in the "sig" lines on their email: " and lovers for 40 years, yet still strangers before the law." Is this fair? If our partners are arrested, we can be compelled to testify against them or provide evidence against them, which legally married couples are not forced to do. Is this fair?

In most cases, even carefully drafted wills and durable powers of attorney have proven to not be enough if a family wishes to challenge a will, overturn a custody decision, or exclude us from a funeral or deny us the right to visit a partner's grave. As survivors, they can even sieze a real estate property that we may have been buying together for years, quickly sell it at a huge loss and stick us with the remaining debt on a property we no longer own. When these are presented to a homophobic probate judge, he will usually find some pretext to overturn them. Is this fair?

These aren't just theoretical issues, either; they happen with surprising frequency. Almost any older gay couple can tell you horror stories of friends who have been victimized in such ways.

These are all civil rights issues that have nothing whatever to do with the ecclesiastical origins of marriage; they are matters that have become enshrined in state laws over the years in many ways that exclude us from the rights that legally married couples enjoy and consider their constitutional right. This is why we say it is very much a civil rights issue; it has nothing to do with who performs the ceremony or whether an announcement is accepted for publication in the local paper. It is not a matter of "special rights" to ask for the same rights that other couples enjoy by law, even by constitutional mandate."

Alliance Defense Fund on Opposing Retrieved 3.1.2010: "The US Government has identified over 1,000 protections, benefits, and responsibilities that civil marriage provides for committed couples and their children. These range from hospital visitation and decision-making to inheritance to parenting. Gay and lesbian couples now face problems and challenges that other families don’t. Getting health insurance can be difficult. Partners can be denied hospital visitation rights, or the right to make key decisions when one of them is disabled. These families deserve the same level of protection as heterosexual couples. This is about ending discrimination faced by tens of thousands of families every day."

"Commentary: Latinos should see gay marriage a civil right." CNN. November 7, 2008: "In spite of what seems to be sweeping approval for a progressive agenda, Latino support of Prop. 8 has exposed an entrenched bias against homosexuality at once profound and confounding.

Perhaps because of the teachings of the Roman Catholic priests and now the evangelical preachers who have captured many Latinos' devotional intensity; or simply because of the macho albatross we all carry as part of our Latino heritage, the very idea of gay marriage is anathema to many in the Latino community.

The fight for civil rights in America -- from the abolition of slavery in 1865, through the battle for a woman's right to vote, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- has been long, fierce, and steady. Politicians from both parties never tire of telling us that a metaphorical Liberty Bell rings brightly, as it does in no other country in the world.

Yet even as civil rights in America have come so far, Latinos still suffer keenly under the heel of oppression.

Everyday, I feel the blow of news reports about Latinos struggling against dark odds in our country: the immigrant mother forgotten in a jail cell for four days without food, water, or a toilet; slaughterhouse workers herded like the cattle they process into an Immigration and Customs Enforcement bus.

Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has attacked the immigration conundrum with zeal, is being sued by Latino human rights organizations for allegedly demanding proof of citizenship from anyone who looks Latino, and even from people listening to Spanish-language radio in their cars.

The irony of Latino support for Prop. 8 is sad. That a community that continues to struggle for basic rights would deny them to another is particularly baffling.

A marginalized minority -- Latinos -- voting to take away the rights of another marginalized group -- gays and lesbians -- is like the kid who's picked on in the third grade and only makes some headway when a punier kid comes along to take the punches instead."

Christopher Ott. "Banning same-sex marriage would protect no one." February 8, 2005: "It's bad enough that the president wants to make exceptions to the founding ideals of our country, but you also have to wonder if he and other opponents to equal rights really understand the consequences of the amendments they support.

Do they really want gay and lesbian couples separated at the emergency room door in the event of an accident or illness?

Do they really think long-term couples should be denied the right to make medical or end-of-life decisions, which married couples take for granted?

Do they really think that kids should be denied health coverage by one parent's health insurance because the law treats them as strangers?

Do they really think it's fair for gay and lesbian people to pay the same taxes as everyone else, but to be denied the hundreds of rights, benefits and protections of marriage?

Do they really think that a gay and lesbian couple that has been together for 50 years does not deserve the protections that non-gay newlyweds enjoy from day one?

Throughout our history, steps toward equality have always been met with resistance. But I'm confident our country will rise to the occasion and guarantee equal treatment once again."

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