Monday, January 9, 2012

Human Rights

This next post is from my Communication and Conflict Class final paper (COM325) . I thought I would share a brief excerpt from the topic of Legalization of Same Sex Marriage otherwise known as Human Rights. It starts out with a quote that I think says it all.

This paper was written before I got married, unfortunately in the state of Wisconsin it is not recognized. Erica and I got "married" November 5th, 2011 in front of family and friends. It was the best day of my life and it felt so great to be surrounded by family and friends who supported us. We will be heading to Cabo in February for our honeymoon!

“It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage. Or as I like to call it: ‘marriage.’ You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not gay lunch. I parked my car; I didn’t gay park it.” – Liz Feldman

This is one of my favorite quotes stated by Liz Feldman, who is a comedian. It brings up a good point on how society looks at same-sex marriage. I believe that marriage should be able to apply to everyone in regards to the fact that same-sex marriage and marriage should not be labeled separately. We are all humans and share feelings, thoughts, and emotions. The only difference is my preference of who I want to marry. I think that I should be able to enjoy the same benefits that straight couples are able to enjoy. Just because we are in love and are a same-sex couple does not mean that we should be denied those rights. Marriage constitutes more than the legalized act of commitment, for it offers couples joint ownership, tax filing, insurance benefits, and medical decisions that are important. These do not just affect straight couples but they also affect “same-sex couples.” Denying these rights is a direct violation of our civil rights.

I also think that people have the right to decide if they want to get married, or if they do not want to get married. There are many straight couples who live together and do not want to get married. I think the elements of what constitutes a family and the way people’s lifestyles are evolving. The reason I say this is because people argue that same-sex marriage will ruin the institution of marriage, but look at how many other ways people are living their lives. They are not getting married, and living together. The domestic partnership law is not just being used by same-sex couples but also by straight couples who do not want to get married, but want to share some benefits. This is something that is important to look at because it is not just gay couples who live this type of lifestyle. There are straight couples who are living a lifestyle in which marriage may not be the route they want to go. I also think that if people are so worried about the institution of marriage, just look at the media and the rates of divorce. There are enough straight couples that are doing enough damage to their own marriage. How can same-sex marriage ruin the institution of marriage when there is already a significant problem? One perfect example is Kim Kardashian and Kris Humpheries, married for only 72 days! More examples are some of the celebrities and political figures within the news in which we are finding out about some of their misconduct. Just to name a few, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, and Arnold Scherzwiznager. These are all men that are in “straight” relationship, they are all married, and they cheated on their wives. Some of these celebrities may be facing a divorce, but how many of us have either been a victim or know people who have had their spouse/significant other cheat? I have a feeling there are quite a few people out there. With that being said, it is quite clear that in some aspects the institution of marriage can be ruined regardless of whether same sex-couples are married. I think that all human beings regardless of the sex they are interested in can be “a threat” to the institution of marriage if they are not faithful. It is clear that we are all humans and we should be treated with respect and dignity. It should not be “us against them” and we are marrying for the same reasons that everybody else is. In other words, allowing same-sex couples to legally marry will also be beneficial to the economy. “We” will be able contribute to society and enjoy the right to plan and celebrate with a wedding ceremony in which many people spend a lot of money on.

In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state in the nation to adopt anti-discrimination protections for our state’s gay and lesbian citizens. (Fair Wisconsin, 2011) This means that landlords, employers, owners and workers in a public place cannot discriminate against lesbians/gays/bisexuals on their sexual orientation. I think this alone should standout to the many people in my state. We already have an anti-discrimination protection that takes place when we are trying to find a job, a house, or go to a business. By not legalizing same-sex marriage we are in fact discriminating against the LGBT population. In 2006, Wisconsin passed a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality and civil unions. In 2009, Wisconsin “became the first state in the Midwest to protect same-sex couples via legislation and made us the first state with an existing constitutional amendment banning both marriage equality and civil unions to enact domestic partnerships” (Fair Wisconsin, 2011). Why even bother to make this a protection when we cannot even get married. I understand the basis of the protection, but I think these days it is not always as easy to tell who LGBT is. I think people tend to have the stereotypes of what a lesbian or gay person looks like. This is another way in which people need to know that it does not affect just “one type” of individual. There are sports athletes, artists, singers, and people who are just trying to make a living. Again this is our civil right and it affects many people.

As mentioned earlier, society is becoming more accepting and the legalization of same-sex marriage is slowly starting to pass. It is apparent that same-sex couples and LGBT people are being welcomed into the mainstream entertainment arena. Many television series are incorporating LGBT characters into their plots and it is another way for individuals to learn about the LGBT population. Shows like Modern Family, Glee, and Grey’s Anatomy all focus on many different plots that LGBT people go through. There is a focus on teenagers as well, and describe what the “coming out process” is like. I think that these shows focus on the reactions of the characters. In a recent Canada news article they look at the broadcast network of CW and talking about “coming out stories.” This article states,

Coming-out stories are standard, almost a cliché of television stories dealing with gay characters and this goes back to the '70s and the '80s," said Larry Gross of University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, who specializes in lesbians and gays in the media. "What's probably different now is that the age is becoming younger and I think this reflects the fact that the sort of battleground for gay people in society includes high school and probably even includes middle school. ... younger people are becoming more aware of their identities. (Friedlander, 2011)

Because it has entered the mainstream arena, it is apparent to me that it is becoming a “part of life.” People’s attitudes are changing in regards to the way they view gay people. It is apparent that we have come a long way from many years ago to now. Again we are looking at our civil rights, and that right is for me to be able to marry. Many people think there is a stigma and that people who are “homosexual” are “promiscuous.” I always find this view to be somewhat of a contradiction because people who are straight can exhibit the same promiscuous behavior.

There are currently six states that have recognized same-sex marriage including New York which has passed this past month.  “Same-sex couples can legally marry in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.” (Associated Press, 2011) Many couples have been able to enjoy the freedom of marrying their significant other. Many have told me that I should move to the states that have legalized it, but I do feel that in the next ten years all of the states will be legalized. It also becomes an issue when other states are already legalizing marriage and if the other states are in agreement that it is a constitutional right than the right should be effective in all of the United States.  I also feel like I have started my life in Wisconsin and this is where I want to stay. I should not have to move to those states just so that my marriage can be legalized. Again I think that as more states continue to fight through on this issue, it is going to be legalized. In Wisconsin, we do have the domestic partnership, which is something that my wife and I have taken advantage of. This does not give us all the benefits that a marriage couple can enjoy, but it has been nice because my wife, Erica has been able to get on my insurance and is able to assist in some of my medical decisions.

Many people will argue that most religions find homosexuality a sin, and that people who are gay will “go to hell.” But what happened to the freedom of religion? Not everybody shares the same viewpoints and not ALL religions have issues with gay people. This is where the separation of government and church play a factor. The government can put this right into effect, but there are certain churches that do not have to perform the ceremony if it is against their religious beliefs. Many will use the bible and take direct quotes out of the bible to show that homosexuality is a “sin” and is “wrong.” I understand that people will pull that out and argue with it, but again there are people who do not believe in the bible or God. How can one religion claim that it is the right religion and all others are wrong? In that mindset this argument would not work for many, as people have the freedom of religion and can worship in any way that they please. Same-sex marriage is a civil right and it should be celebrated in any way that the couple so chooses to do. The church I belong to is United Church of Christ and I am Protestant.  Our church has opened there arms to everyone and everybody, my pastor is going to lead my ceremony in November. When I asked him, my pastor stated, “There would be no other place, then officiating your wedding.” Again this goes to show that not everyone has the same beliefs and although there are many people who have religious issues, my pastor and church do not have any issues. On a more personal note, I truly believe in God and the well-being and respect of others, and I attend my church when I am back in my hometown. I have never felt “unwelcomed” and everybody is “accepting.” I think this is how God wants me to treat people and that is how I live my life. Again this is my religious view on life, but others may not even believe in God, and others have different perspectives. Same-sex marriage is not something that everybody needs to agree with, but it is indeed a right that needs to be legalized. We are a minority group and to take our civil rights away is like taking the rights away for “women to vote.”  As we have been going through this process of planning a wedding, we have not had anyone show us any discontent or reject to offer their services to us. Now I am not an overly religious person, but I do believe in God, and I do think that God would not turn any one way from him. Again this is a controversial issue in which many will talk about the inability for same-sex couples to reproduce, and that is why marriage is between a man and woman. When taking that into consideration, I like think about the fact that there is adoption and other ways for same-sex couples to have children. What do you think a straight couple does when one cannot have the ability to have child? They go through the same process whether it be adoption or through medical science. There is also the argument that children who are raised by same-sex couples will have a “traumatic” experience or even make them “gay.” This is truly an argument that lacks validity. I know several same-sex couples that are raising children and they are quite successful and believe it or not, they turn out just fine.

            There is always going to be controversy between the legalization of same-sex marriage. I think that the directions that it is heading are only going to get better. I was reading a recent news article in The Brattleboro Reformer and I think this anonymous journalist puts it at best,

As the Founding Fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. “Of course, if you don't believe in the evolution of beliefs over time, then only white, male landowners qualify as "men" and the Founding Fathers surely didn't have gay marriage in mind when they put their signatures on that great declaration that still resonates today. But by that same reasoning, we would still have slaves, women wouldn't have the right to vote, and those of different races wouldn't be able to intermarry. (Equal rights indeed, 2011)

This issue is important because it affects my life and the ability for me to want to commit to my wife. I should be able to enjoy the same rights that every straight couple has I want to be able to marry my wife and have it count in the way that we can experience the same rights that everybody else does. There are many arguments to why same-sex marriage should be legalized. The acceptance of gay people has changed and is growing. There are a number of states that believe that same-sex marriage is a basic human right and there are six states that have currently legalized same-sex marriages. Over the years, I think we will see more states think about same-sex marriage and make it legal. In years later, I think many of us will wonder why same-sex marriage was ever an issue. Same-sex marriage is a civil right, and there needs to be equality.

So on November 5th, 2011, I will be walking down that aisle, I will be celebrating my love for my partner Erica, and I will be doing it in front of 200+ guests that are their because they love us and accept us for who we are as people. On this day I will smile and as I say my vows with my pastor to my bride, I will smile. For I know I will be happy for the rest of my life. At this point in my life, I truly believe that we will eventually overcome this obstacle and Erica and I will be able to have another ceremony in which our vows will be read, and will be legally married. Until then I will embrace life to the fullest and continue to stand by my wife as we fight for the civil rights and equality.


Associated Press. (2011). Ny lawmakers stuck on gay marriage vote. Retrieved from

Equal rights, indeed. (2011, July 15). The Brattleboro reformer. Retrieved July 18, 2011, from

     Proquest Newsstand. (Document ID: 2399572251).

Fair Wisconsin. (2011). Retrieved from

Friedlander, Whitney. (2011, January 5). Coming-out stories come of age on popular shows for

     teenagers. The Vancouver Sun, D. 4. Retrieved July 18, 2011, from Proquest Newsstand.

     (Document ID: 2233676021).

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