Marriage Equality Day for Florida

October 7, 2013Tuesday was a historic day. It was the day that marriage equality came to Florida. We were filled with joy for the same sex couples in our state who were finally able to get married. Our Facebook feeds were filled with wonderful images and articles from those who are supporters of same sex marriage. For as happy as we were for the numerous people who were able to marry, we were even more thrilled for ourselves on this day. After marrying in Rhode Island in 2013, the lifted stay on marriage equality rights now meant that our marriage was valid on our home state. Prior to Tuesday, we had made sure that we were as protected as we could be via the creation of many legal documents, at great expense to us. January 6, 2015 changed all of the remaining things that we could not take care of in legal paperwork. I know that there are many who oppose marriage equality, mostly those who view the issue as a religious matter take this position.

As is usually the case with issues that are controversial, there was a flip side to this monumental day. Mixed in with the wedding photos and well wishes on our social media were the news stories that infuriated us. Some counties in the state decided that doing away with providing courthouse wedding for all couples was a better option that just marrying “the gays” who wished to be married. I have read so many insightful and well written briefs from both sides of the issue. This is my readers digest attempt to simplify the root issue at hand when it comes to marriage equality and whether or not gay people should be permitted to marry one another.

I have been thinking about this for some time. I know quite a few people who are opposed to the right for homosexuals to marry. Each and every one of them is against the idea because of religious reason. Every. Single. One. Having been “straight” married once before I have a pretty deep understanding of the marriage process. You decide to get married. You go to the county and obtain a marriage license. You wait three days or take a premarital counseling class to avoid the waiting period. You decide whether or not you are going to be married in a church or somewhere else. You find an officiant. You get married. It is a very simple process if you look at it broken down like that.

The part that confounds me, to this day, is the blatant failure for those who do not believe in gay marriage to understand that for some marriage is not a religious act, but a civil one. Here is something to think about. Whether you decide to get married in a church or under the freeway overpass, you must first obtain a marriage license from a civil authority, also known as the state in which you live. You cannot show up in a church and get legally married if you do not have a license. Period. Do you see where I am going with this?

I have argued, listened and swallowed more shit than I cared to about why gays being married should not be allowed. I have listened to the baloney reasoning regarding marriage and its sacramental and holy nature and about how it is against God for gays to exist and that they should absolutely not be allowed to marry. For those who are less rigid in their views I have heard that they, meaning “the gays,” should have something else, just not call it marriage. Marriage belongs to the man and woman couple on this planet.

These convicted types stand hard and firm to this thinking. They claim that marriage equality for homosexuals impinges on their religious freedoms. Religious freedom is not the ability to tell everyone else what they should believe that last time I checked. It is not the right for someone else to tell me that how I live my life is wrong and that I am doomed to hell because I am a woman and have a wife. Freedom to practice whatever religion you want has no correlation to what, or how, anyone else chooses to live their lives. Applying your beliefs to someone else’s life and making a judgment about whether or not they fit into your idea of right or wrong is dangerous for us all. As far as I know there have been no reported incidents where my gay brothers and sisters, by marrying, are demanding that these religious freedom fighters become gay. That sounds ridiculous. I know. This is my point. To them, being gay is a sin and not allowed. Super. So don’t be gay. My homosexuality cannot violate your conscience unless you are living in the closet. Nor does my being a lesbian affect your religious freedoms.

The ideology from the religious right with regard to who can marry is outdated, self-serving, judgmental and stupid. Their position completely ignores the fact that the right to marry is first and foremost a civil one. They like to bring up the historical roots of marriage, but conveniently leave out the fact that marriage in its earliest days was a property agreement between a man and woman. It was a financial arrangement and often arranged without the say of the woman who was being married off. It was not a harlequin romance for sure. In fact, there is much evidence that marriage predates written history. History of Marriage.

Here is the freedom that some churches and religious types forget. Churches or religious organizations can decide who they wish to marry. If you are gay, and want to get married in the church, this is not going to happen. Rightfully so might I add. Churches do not have to marry anyone they do not wish to marry. This is one of the many protections they are afforded by our constitution. I believe it is called freedom of religion. How hard is it for those same people to understand that freedom is afforded to all of us? It goes both ways.

The push for marriage equality for same sex couples has always been about equal rights, not equal acknowledgement by a church who refuses to accept homosexuality. I am sure that there are many same sex couples who would like to be accepted by their church and to receive the sacrament and blessing of their faith when it comes to their marriage. This day may or may not ever come to pass. For those of us who are in a same sex marriage, the equality we have long hoped for is now possible. Up until Tuesday, the list of protections that gay couples were not afforded can be found is quite long. These protections also did not apply to those who were legally married in another state.

There is nothing that pisses me off more than people who stand in the pulpit or on a legislative floor and endorse hate and inequality for the sake of religion. Cue the gay marriage is ruining the traditional family and fabric of our society music. Their religion may dictate their truth about homosexuality and whether or not it is an abomination unto the Lord. Super. Think that. What religion cannot dictate is what the people who do not share their beliefs are allowed to do. This is what our country was founded upon. The right of individuals to choose what their marriage looks like is a freedom we all are entitled to. What fits one does not fit all.

On the flip side, there is nothing that brings me more joy than when I consider all of the people who fought long and hard to make sure that marriage equality became a reality in the sunshine state. There is still a long way to go to make sure that all discrimination is eliminated for those who are LGBTQ, but this victory adds to the momentum. The list of passionate and dedicated people who helped make this come to pass are too many to list here. I am grateful for their perseverance and their fortitude. To the plaintiffs, the lawyers, the judges and the people in the trenches fighting for us all, the Waters Chicks offer our thanks and love.