Opinion

OUR CORNER: None should be denied happiness

I normally try not to talk too much about my personal life in these spaces, but in this case, I am going to make an exception.

I got engaged a few weeks ago and to be completely honest, I am not sure I have ever been happier. I didn't expect to feel any different about things as The Girl and I had just signed our first lease together and were planning to make a go of it anyway, but there was just something about making it official.

Now "forever" is tangible. We are officially going for it and there's no backing out now. It's amazingly liberating and exciting to be starting a new life together.

I mention this because I am about to write about gay marriage and usually when I do, I usually like to point out that I am not gay and not getting married, therefore I really have no dog in the show.

But that's not the case anymore, I actually DO have a dog in this show and I can't believe anyone would want to deny another human being the sheer joy and excitement our engagement has brought to me and my fiancee.

In Washington state, marriage equality is once again a top-level issue since legislation was signed Feb. 13 making ours the seventh state in the union to recognize the right of all people to publicly declare their love and to receive all of the rights and benefits that come with that.

Also this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 7 struck down as unconstitutional California's Proposition 8, a referendum that was literally titled "Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry."

Which is funny, since I thought a "right" was something that a government is supposed to protect, not take away.The appeals court agreed.

"The People may not employ the initiative power to single out a disfavored group for unequal treatment and strip them, without a legitimate justification, of a right as important as the right to marry," wrote the majority.

The decision also states that the word marriage provides "state legitimization and societal recognition of their committed relationships" and that denying the use of the word serves no purpose but to "lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians."

I love that. I love that it points out the reason to deny it is to attempt to lessen the dignity of gay people.

This is a civil rights issue and something that any true "conservative" should be behind. It may be considered socially "liberal" to be pro-equality, but politically speaking, this is a rather conservative decision from what is generally considered to be the most liberal of appeals circuits.

This is a ruling that literally protects individual rights from government intrusion. This is a victory for freedom and we should all celebrate it.

Simply put: You cannot be anti-same sex marriage and anti-"Big Government" at the same time. Stop trying. You look silly.

I've heard all of the arguments against gay marriage and I find them all to be bigoted piles of horse pucky. Don't want a gay marriage (or any marriage for that matter)? Don't get one. But don't deny someone else the rights and benefits conferred by such a contract.

Because that's what marriage really is. It's a contract between two consenting adults to merge their lives into a single entity. And that's all the government should be concerned about: enforcing the contract. That's why you need lawyers to get out one, not just your local holy man.

And as long as marriage continues to be defined as a contract between (any) two consenting adults, all of the arguments about it leading to polygamy or bestiality or any of that are laid bare as just being ignorant and mean.

Even Sen. Pam Roach's argument a few weeks back that she doesn't believe the law does enough to protect religious organizations from performing marriages they don't want to perform is ridiculous. They DO have that protection. It's the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In fact, this type of issue is EXACTLY why it exists: to keep government from forcing something on a religion and to prevent religion from forcing something on government.

You are welcome to live your marriage and your life exactly as your holy book tells you, but you can't force someone else to live by your God's rules. That's what is known in some parts of the world as "shariah law."

More importantly though, why should government decide who you can and can't love and spend your life with?

On the flip side, freedom means you don't have to like it. That is your choice and your opinion.

But – and I have no qualms saying this – you are wrong. I would never want to deny anyone – ANYONE – the happiness that I have had for the past few weeks.

And if you do, I honestly think you need to re-think exactly what "land of the free" means to you and then get over yourself.

So kudos to the Washington Legislature, especially the six Republicans who went against their party's establishment to vote for what is right instead of what might be more politically popular. Thank you for bringing us into the 21st century and recognizing that everyone deserves the opportunity to marry.

BY BRIAN BECKLEY

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