Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Long Journey Towards Acceptance of Marriage Equality

Later tonight, I will add my name to a list of members of the Washington State Democratic Party who support granting full marriage rights to persons who choose to marry a partner of the same sex in Washington State. 

This has not been an easy road for me to travel to reach the place where I would be comfortable supporting anything other than the so-called "traditional marriage" of the past century in the United States.  As an LDS (Mormon) person it has been difficult on a number of fronts, but not for reasons that may be readily understood by a casual observer.  As is the case in many families, our family has a number of family members and close friends who are or were sexual minorities of one sort or another and who are in varying degrees of being out or in on the issue of orientations other than pure heterosexuality.  This also formed and shaped my journey towards a change of heart and viewpoints.  Having come of age as an LDS person with the nearly constant villification of the LDS Church's history of polygamy, the fear that same sex marriage could be the gateway to polygamy and demi-marriages was my primary personal reason for not supporting the extension of marriage rights beyond what was sufficient for the last 100 years or so.  Accepting marriage equality has required setting aside that fear and acknowledging that consenting adults are in the best position to make informed decisions as to how and who to love.

My beloved church sought to fight what it apparently perceived as a huge threat to essential doctrines, secular marriages of same sex couples, even though it generally excused itself from becoming involved in politics in the past on other issues. I had a hard time with the timing and the internal conflicts the LDS Church's involvement in Proposition 8 brought forward for me personally.  Eventually, I came to a very profound support of the Church's right and even moral duty to make its strong opinion known on the matter and I accepted their right to speak out.  However, as an attorney, even then, I would articulate my belief that ultimately and constitutionally speaking, same sex marriage would eventually become the law of all our land. 

I support the constitutional first amendment right of my Church and that of others who oppose same sex marriage to continue to do so, to solemnize only opposite sex marriages if they choose to, and, in some cases, to even speak what may be perceived to be hate speak by some.  However, I no longer personally wish to deny the rights of other human beings to enjoy the benefits of and embark on the responsibilities of secular marriage in the United States on the basis of what legally amounts to a ban based on traditions without evidence of sufficient weight and credibility that there is a basis for the government to prohibit secular same sex marriage. With six states now allowing same sex marriage, Washington State having already granted all the rights of married couples to parties in registered domestic partnerships, and my firm belief that when the United States Supreme Court considers the Proposition 8 case it will find that banning same sex marriage via the initiative process is unconstitutional, I believe the time has come to extend full marriage equality in Washington State.