This column is going to surprise many; especially some of those within Caribbean-American political circles. I have decided to support the present legislative initiative to allow for same-sex marriages in New York. It has been a long journey: I have come full circle.
I was born on the island of Trinidad. I lived there until my teenage days were over. My upbringing was a religious one, in a culture that one can be objectively called “somewhat homophobic”. At first, I was totally against same-sex marriage. Many blog-readers will remember my writings on Room Eight New York Politics (www.r8ny.com ) -and on other blogs- where I raised many concerns (some of which I still have) relative to re-defining marriage. My column “Getting Down On the Same-Sex marriage Debate” (6/25/2007), drew many comments.
Then I moved to a neutral place, after it was impressed upon me to seriously re-think my position on humanitarian-grounds. When I ran for the city council in 2009, I was attacked for not taking a position on the issue. After a few years on the fence, I now conclude this is the right thing to do. It’s the humane thing to do. In this society we should allow for same sex-marriage. After scouring the US Constitution, I don’t see the basis for denying this civic benefit.
First off, let me confess that I have never really fully understood homosexuality. Given the general procreative thrust of nature, homosexuality has been somewhat troubling to my world view; but that’s just my personal (and honest) opinion. I know I don’t have the right to condemn sexual choices between consenting adults: so I won’t. I do hope that scientific advancements will one day help me better understand this subject though; since I still have some unanswered questions.
In the eighties, I remember marching with gay-rights-activists for increased government funding to study HIV/AIDS (against the Reagan Administration). Back then, I worked with two very progressive and politically active organizations: The New Alliance Political Party and The Rainbow Lobby. Those organizations (and Dr. Leonora Fulani too) helped educate me about the many issues facing LGBT
I believe it is immoral to discriminate against lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, transgendered people, et al, in any and every aspect of human endeavor. I agree with laws that specifically deal with those who victimize and target these groups. And yet, I don’t think that an honest debate about “sexual-orientation” has ever taken place in this country.
Why? Well it’s mainly because militant-activist-types tend to label anyone with an “opposing” or “inquiring” viewpoint as being “homophobic”. This intimidates too many folks; thus they shy-away from the topic. I don’t think this fosters a better understanding of the many issues around these and ancillary topics.
I have arrived at my present position on same-sex-marriages because of the many benefits conferred on married couples in heterosexual settings. These benefits tend to create an inequity in society, once we disallow those who choose to marry someone of a similar gender, the right to marriage. Unless there is
an amendment to the US constitution -outlawing marriages between people of the same gender- then the right to marry should be conferred to same-sex couples too.
Many legal-types have told me it is “an equal-protection-clause” issue. In my estimation -when taken it totality- Amendments nine, ten and eleven of the US Constitution does allow for same-sex marriage.
I know I am no legal expert, but my layman reasoning says that the US Supreme Court will eventually weigh in on all this, and that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will eventually face its day of reckoning (or survival). It will be a rather interesting day when Justice Antonin Scalia writes his dissent (expectedly) on this topic.
I totally dismiss the religious arguments against same-sex marriage, since marriage is no longer a predominantly religious issue: it has evolved over the years. Plus, I don’t think any one individual has the right to impose his or her individual religious views on another’s right to marry. The civic benefits accumulated over time, and conferred on marriage(s) by governments, cultures and societies have removed the religious emphasis. Things change; sometimes for the better; sometimes for the worse. In this case, only time will tell.
We can possibly expect a few new (and unique) issues to surface after same-sex marriage is eventually allowed, but despite those and other concerns, an individual’s right to marry another able-bodied , sane and consenting human shouldn’t be abridged.
Stay tuned-in folks.