OPINION – Despite all the spin and backslapping Utah legislators are engaged in after their recent passage of a law that ensures housing and employment rights for the LGBT community, the state continues its hypocritical stance in the most important aspect of this issue: same-sex marriage.
Utah was one of 15 states – the others being Louisiana, Texas, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma and West Virginia – that filed a “friends of the court” brief asking the Supreme Court to uphold same-sex marriage bans.
These states claim that the decision on same-sex marriage should be left up to the states. So, if you are a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, you can live in Utah, you can work in Utah, but you cannot marry somebody of the same sex.
In other words, the rights of members of the LGBT community are sort of, but not quite, equal to the rights of everybody else in the state. It is hypocritical and an insult to the LGBT community.
Sen. Steve Urquhart, who wrote the Utah bill, will tell you that members of the LGBT community were grateful for its passage.
What they did, however, was settle for something less than what they deserved.
Had Urquhart been truly looking to create true equality, he would have included same-sex marriage as a part of the legislation. But, he didn’t.
The reason, of course, is that it was a matter of conscience on one hand, as he realized the inequity of rights, and a matter of practicality on the other, as he wants to continue to be reelected and not offend his constituency. He wanted it both ways.
Unfortunately, when it comes to civil rights, you can’t have it both ways. The right to marriage is not, and never should be, a states’ rights issue.
It’s not like legalizing recreational marijuana, a state lottery, or absurd liquor laws that simply force residents to cross the border for the good stuff.
This is about the rights of individuals to make a legal commitment to a life partner. It has no impact whatsoever on how you or I conduct our lives or who we choose to love and share our lives with, nor does it reflect on the morality of our society. It is simply an acknowledgement of life, as we know it, and how we choose to live it.
There are, of course, certain rules of morality we should all follow.
We should do no harm to others. We should not take that which does not belong to us. And, we should not persecute those who live or think differently than us.
I don’t know of anybody on this planet qualified to hear directly from God – whether prophet, pope, or preacher – but, if I may be so bold, I seriously think His first order of business would be for us to stop killing each other and taking advantage of the poor and weak.
I would also think that He would smile down on those who express love and make a commitment of that love and fidelity to another, whether they are of the same sex or not.
On April 28, the United States Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on the issue of same-sex marriage.
The two primary issues to be resolved will be if a state has the right to ban same-sex marriages and if a state will be required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
It is expected that the Supreme Court will hand down its ruling by the end of June and that it will find it unconstitutional for states to ban or not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries.
It would be easy to chalk this up to the theocracy that is Utah, especially since it comes on the heels of the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last weekend where L. Tom Perry, a member of the church’s Quorum of the 12, said that Mormons should “not be swayed by a world filled with media and entertainment that presents the minority masquerading as the majority and tries to make mainstream values seem obsolete;” that “strong traditional family values are the basic units of a stable society, a stable economy, and a stable culture of values;” and that the LDS church’s “investment in the topic is even deeper than other religions because they believe marriages and families are for eternity.”
While Perry’s statements can be viewed as narcissistic and self-serving, it must also be remembered that they are also shared by those of the angry right conservative states that have also signed this brief to the Supreme Court as “friends of the Court.”
This is an important time in U.S. history, a time when it will be decided whether the nation is a theocracy or democracy, and whether rights will be extended to all or only those who subscribe to a certain set of beliefs.
The bottom line is that nobody should be compelled to believe that same-sex marriage is right. That is a personal belief and you are free to believe whatever you wish.
But, that belief should not inhibit or restrict the rights of others who believe that a same-sex marriage can be just as viable – societally, economically, or as an indication of the stability of cultural values – as so-called traditional marriages, a fact lost on those closed minds that are willing to sacrifice the rights of others to justify their own narrow belief system.
A little equality is not equality.
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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