I wrote a blog not so long ago about marriage, outlining my thoughts on what I believe are the potential effects of referring to marriage by any other name. Carrie Underwood’s recent show of support for equality illustrates that the agenda is very much “gay marriage.”
Underwood joins a growing list of public figures in that regard. It was heart-warming to read of her using her voice for good in more ways than one. I speak as a biased fan, having followed since her early days on American Idol. Nonetheless, her support is extremely valid and welcomed, and it is hoped that her fine example has the effect of encouraging others to join her in speaking out in favor of equal treatment, and speaking out for what they believe to be right.
Underwood said, “As a married person myself, I don’t know what it’s like to be told I can’t marry somebody I love, and want to marry.” The beauty of the songstress’ words lies in the simplicity of the sentiment. She effectively reduced the concept of marriage down to its basic form, its basic element, when she said, “I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love.”
Her language speaks of fairness, togetherness, and equality. Her words were not only refreshing but serve to simplify the matter. Marriage is about love, not gender or sexual orientation. Yet the headline read, “Carrie Underwood: US country queen speaks out for gay marriage.” The term “gay marriage” most definitely has momentum.
It is my belief that when we talk about “gay marriage” and “gay rights” as if they were separate from marriage and human rights, we are suggesting, if not creating, separateness. Our heterosexual peers, whom we are striving to join on an equal footing in the eyes of the law, by definition cannot partake in gay marriage nor benefit from gay rights — because these people are not gay. There is a separateness. That separateness, that difference in perception, is precisely what we want to overcome. We are all human beings. We are all deserving of the same and equal human rights.
Our efforts for equality are founded on and have always been based on the notion of equal treatment. How can we campaign to be treated the same when we ourselves call it something different? We’re not calling it marriage but “gay marriage,” yet we’re campaigning for full and equal marriage rights. The terminology currently in use excludes our heterosexual counterparts. We are campaigning for inclusion; why, then, do our campaigns suggest exclusion?
The phrases “gay marriage” and “gay rights” don’t apply across the board. These phrases apply to gay people. Marriage and human rights are applicable to us all as human beings, but not yet available to us all by way of law, and that’s what underlies our pursuit for justice: to be treated equally and without differentiation. We want equal treatment regardless of our sexual orientation. How, then, can marriages and rights be “gay”?
I’m asking whether it’s fruitful to separate ourselves by virtue of our sexual orientation. We’re fond of the slogan “love is love.” Therefore, whether a marriage is made up of two women, two men, or a man and a woman shouldn’t matter, nor should it be cause for differentiation, because marriage is marriage. Again, marriage is about love, not gender or sexual orientation.
Where did the construct “gay marriage” come from? Who created it? Who coined the phrase? Was it the media, marriage-equality supporters, or the opposition? I must bow to superior knowledge in this regard. I don’t know where the phrase came from, but what I do know is that marriage and gay marriage cannot be the same thing; the latter applies to gay people only, but the former can include us all equally.
To suggest that I’m averse to the use of the term “gay” is to misunderstand me. I simply fail to see how my sexual orientation should be attached to any human right I choose to exercise, be it connected to my education, my property, my voting rights, my work, or, indeed, my marriage. My sexual orientation, my belonging to the LGBT community, will always be a very proud part of my own personal history. Many communities make up our society, and we all belong to wider society equally. It is our diversity and our individuality that facilitate making our contribution to the richness of the human race a very valuable one.
On a personal note, I remain hopeful. When the day eventually arrives, if one of us opts for tradition and goes down on one knee, I don’t see a scenario of either one of us asking of the other, “Will you ‘gay’ marry me?” No, whether it’s her or I, the question will be, “Will you marry me?” When our momentous day follows, we won’t be exercising a gay right. We’ll be exercising a human right, a personal freedom, both of us, as human beings, underpinned by the basic element of marriage as I see it, and that is love.