Forty years ago, Chris and Pat met and started dating. After graduating from college, they quickly realized they loved each other and wanted to commit to spending their lives together as a married couple. As their love, honor and respect for each other grew over time, they decided to adopt a child. After waiting patiently for several years, they were elated to become parents of a beautiful baby girl.
As that little girl grew up, Chris and Pat loved to read to her. Their love of reading was passed on to their daughter who went on to major in English literature in college. She married and is now expecting a child. Chris and Pat are thrilled about becoming grandparents. They can’t wait to share their favorite children’s books with their new grandchild.
This story is not unusual. It’s just a story – a slice of life, if you will – of two people and their pursuit of happiness. But what if Chris and Pat are a same-sex couple? If they are, then there is a major flaw in the story. That’s because in most parts of the country, it’s illegal for a couple of the same sex to marry.
Why is that? Why are two people who love each other, whose lives are interconnected and interdependent, and who wish to make a lifelong commitment to each other denied the cultural and legal status of marriage? To deny them that is not only discriminatory but also degrading because it denies people a basic human right – the right to marry.
Some argue same-sex marriage is inconsistent with religious values and ceremonies. Religious rites, however, are not the same as human rights. I’m not questioning here the right of a religion to determine its dogma and creed. What I do question is imposing that dogma and creed on individuals’ civil rights. The separation of church and state, a fundamental principle of our government, was created to prevent that imposition. We must be ever vigilant in adhering to that separation.
Another argument against same-sex marriage is that it not only devalues heterosexual marriage but also suggests to children that gay and lesbian marriages are acceptable. I agree with John Stossel’s response to these arguments in his recent op-ed, “A Libertarian’s View of Gay Marriage,” on FoxNews.com: “If they redefine marriage to include gays, that doesn’t diminish my marriage. And if kids are taught that gay marriage is OK, so what?”
I would amend my fellow libertarian’s answer by changing “So what?” to “So much the better.”
One of the truly great strides we made in the latter part of the 20th century was to embrace the view that freedom applies to all people regardless of one’s skin color. I fervently hope our nation experiences a new birth of freedom in the 21st century by extending the basic right of marriage to all people regardless of one’s sexual orientation.
I should be quick to point out that the ideas and views I’ve expressed here are mine, not the university’s. A university is more like a marketplace where ideas and views are discussed, deliberated and debated.
What distinguishes Chapman’s marketplace and what I believe makes it an exemplary one are the students, faculty and staff that comprise it – a community of learners who are well-prepared and passionate about the search for truth and beauty. But let us never forget that an indispensible value in Chapman’s marketplace is the freedom to express and debate our ideas and views openly and freely.