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Supporting Marriage Equality Since 2001
Twelve years ago, I read a disturbing article concerning a group of conservative political activists seeking a constitutional amendment banning “gay marriage.” Fresh off the 2000 election where they captured the White House, Senate, and House, Republicans felt they had a clear mandate. Political analysts pointed to the “values voters” as the key cog responsible for the victories. Clearly, it would not take much for the conservative activists to gain traction for their movement, but it could ever become a reality?
As a self-described “Limbaugh Republican,” I had never questioned any of the conservative principles I had been raised to believe as true (i.e. the sanctity of life, marriage, and markets), but something about this movement rubbed me the wrong way. As a kid, my parents raised me to believe that the Republican Party stood for freedom, but now members of my own party, a party that labeled itself as the party of “limited government,” wanted to use the government as a means to prevent two people from expressing their love fully for one another? No, it just didn’t feel right at all, no matter how I tried to justify it. It felt archaic and un-American.
A few weeks later, I served as an usher for a friend’s wedding. As a member of the wedding party, I had the opportunity to watch the hours of work and dedication her wedding planner, a gay man, put into planning the event. During toasts at the rehearsal dinner, the bride raised her glass to him and his partner. I watched as he fought back tears as she went on to declare her hope that one day our country would be compassionate enough to recognize their relationships as equal and found myself rising in unison with the rest of the room to show our support for the disenfranchised couple.
At that moment, in June 2001, I became a supporter of marriage equality, not because it was politically popular, not because of a celebrity endorsement, and not because I had several gay friends. I became a supporter of marriage equality because it was the right thing to do.
Don’t be confused. This certainly wasn’t a popular position to adopt, especially in a conservative place like East Texas. In 2005, a measure seeking to add an amendment to the Texas Constitution banning gay marriage passed with 76% of the vote. It garnered 90% of the vote in Cass County, where I grew up, and 89% of the vote in Smith County where I attended college. At times, I felt like the only straight person in the state in favor of marriage equality. Of course I was also one of the few vocally oppose the war in Iraq and history vindicated me on that issue.
My how the political climate has changed. Not only are politicians coming out everyday in support of marriage equality, but based on the profile pictures on my Facebook feed, a majority of my friends support it now as well.
Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on Prop. 8 and DOMA, marriage equality will soon be a reality for all Americans. It’s inevitable. The culture war has been won and the flat earth society defeated. I’m happy to say I stood on the right side of history.