By Charisse N. Montgomery
Among the black community, resistance to gay marriage remains remarkably staunch. But do we have a leg to stand on in our oppositions to gay marriage?
The primary reasons people cite in opposition to gay marriage are generally biblical. Among those who consider homosexuality a sin, they seem to regard homosexuality as worse than lying, murdering, and greed. By deeming homosexuality as more offensive than other biblically prescribed sins, people create their own justifications for judging people and restricting their rights based on these judgments. In short, if you do think homosexuality is a sin, how can you justify treating homosexuals worse than you treat liars, murderers and divorcees? All of these groups of people have the right to marry, despite the Bible’s assertions that their actions are sinful.
I often hear opponents of gay marriage talk about how marriage is sacred between a man and a woman. I have no doubt that many marriages are sacred; however, our American culture can hardly support this claim. When drunken gamblers can drive through an Elvis-themed chapel in Vegas to marry, we cannot claim that marriage is sacred in our culture. When people marry more frequently than they renew their driver’s licenses, marriage isn’t sacred to us. Furthermore, many heterosexual marriages are wrought with abuse and infidelity – again, not sacred. A marriage license is a document issued by the state for a fee. When my husband and I went to get ours, all they wanted to know was whether we were intoxicated at that moment, whether we were related to one another, and whether either of us had syphilis. What’s sacred about that? We need to be realistic about our values and the way we demonstrate them. The institution of marriage in our culture is about business; it’s no more sacred than applying for a fishing license. The commitment between individuals is what’s sacred.
Statistics show that less than half of the black households in this country are composed of married couples. Given this information, what gives us the right to persecute others who choose and value marriage? Is marriage actually sacred to us, or is this a story we tell ourselves? We seem to value the idea of marriage, but when it comes to making that commitment and taking it seriously, we often fail. Gay marriage doesn't devalue my heterosexual marriage; in fact, it reinforces the importance of marriage as an institution in our society that has the potential to bind families, create stability, and support communities.
Commitment and love are the sacred elements of marriage. These are not defined by the genitalia of the people involved. Ultimately, it is not our place to judge the lives of others or try to strong-arm them into living the way we think they should; our purpose is to love. If we come to understand this, perhaps we can really understand what’s sacred in each of us.