Love is a beautiful thing. It makes people happy. It can change a person, and show someone things that they never knew about themselves. It lifts one up, knowing there is always someone who will stand by their side through anything. It brings people together, and makes the world a better place. Some people may disagree; they might think love is just a fantasy. Either way, it is a fantasy that everyone deserves to dream of and experience in all its glory, whether straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. However, not all people are so accepting of love when it is not in the form that they are familiar with, or is not demonstrated in ways that they think are proper. This can be easily seen in society’s treatment of non-heterosexuals, especially in the cases of marriage laws, bullying by teens and young adults, and general homophobic attitudes in our culture. It is important that these situations be changed so that each and every person has the same rights and is not harshly and wrongly judged because of the sex of the person that they love.
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When thinking of the word “marriage,” what comes to mind? Is it long white dresses and dapper tuxedos, or a towering cake and beautiful flowers? Do sappy love songs and the first dance come to mind? Some imagine a fairytale come true, with a horse and carriage whisking the happy couple away from the church in which they nervously exchanged vows? No matter what comes to mind, most people can agree that marriage is happy, and wonderful, and beautiful. But for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, community across America, marriage is but a distant dream. Same-sex marriages are allowed in very few states and under limited circumstances. Not only is this unconstitutional, because the American constitution gives everyone the same rights despite their sexuality, but it is simply prejudiced. A gay couple that just got married in New York today does not affect the government or society; however some people cannot accept this and feel the need to ban non-heterosexuals from marriage because they feel that it corrupts the institution of marriage. Yes, the legal definition of marriage includes that it is between one man and one woman. This definition is not fair. Marriage should be about powerful love and support, despite the genders of the two recipients.
Minnesota republican Wheelock Whitney, who ran for governor and senator in past years, wrote an editorial on his support for gay marriage in the Star Tribune last month. He said: “Gay men and lesbians are among the most talented people out there. Needless and hurtful laws [banning same-sex marriage] drive them away. They also drive away innovative people of any sexual orientation who simply want to live in a place that respects and celebrates the diversity of life.” He continued by saying: “my happiness has never depended on depriving others of their happiness. My marriage has never needed the exclusion of others from marriage. I am not threatened by seeing others find love and celebrate it.” Gays are normal people just like anyone else, who struggle with their identities and live in search of success, love, and happiness. Prejudiced laws banning same-sex marriage needlessly keep these people from natural human desires. No damage is done to society by letting same-sex couple marry and lead more content, loving lives. If anything, it makes our country a better, happier place. While adult non-heterosexuals are regularly discriminated against via their denied access from legal marriage, those much younger face constant discrimination and bullying from their peers.
More and more so these days stories arise of kids who were bullied for their sexuality and felt no hope that things would get better, so they chose to end their lives. No one deserves to experience that kind of hatred, especially a child. In an article by Make Beats Not Beatdowns, a music-oriented organization dedicated to fighting bullying, it was reported that in the year 2007, almost 9 out of 10 LGBT teens were verbally harassed at school strictly because of their sexual orientation. About 44% of LGBT teens were physically harassed, and 22% were physically assaulted. The worst part is that two-thirds of these kids and teens never reported the incidents (“Bullying & Homosexuality”). Kids and teens often make fun of gays without even realizing the harsh degree of what they are saying or doing, and they do not understand how badly their words and actions can hurt. This is why almost a quarter of LGBT teens think about or even attempt suicide each year, a percentage four times higher than that of heterosexual teens.
People should never feel the need to take their lives because other people do not approve of the people they love, but unfortunately, young gays feel this need on a regular basis. Perhaps the reason young people are so inclined to be prejudiced towards gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people is because of the negative ideas that society gives them. For example, it is overwhelmingly common to hear someone refer to something bad or insulting as “gay.” “You’re not coming to the party tonight? That’s so gay.” Or “You’re in math club? You’re so gay.” Gay should never be used as a synonym for “bad,” “stupid,” “lame,” or “weird.” People would not call someone “black” because he or she is not going to a party, so why is it okay to call that person “gay?” In an article for Evanston Patch, Boston University freshman Eric Linder, who is openly gay, said: “I have friends who still use gay slurs and make no effort to stop.
I know that they don’t mean anything by it, but it does bother me when people use it” (“Gay Slurs”). This is such a common form of prejudice that people do not even realize they are doing it, but that does not make it okay. It is hurtful and wrong, and people should be made more aware of how disrespectful it sounds. In addition, some people claim to think non-heterosexuals and heterosexuals are equals, yet they snicker or laugh when they see a non-heterosexual couple holding hands or sharing a kiss. People think it is funny, or even disgusting. It is understandable to find it out of the ordinary, because to some people, it is. But to non-heterosexuals, it is simply a part of their lives, and should not be mocked by others. There was once a time when interracial couples would be laughed at in a similar manner, but society changed over time and interracial couples are no longer looked at in that way. It is obviously time for society to make another adjustment to encompass non-heterosexuals couples as well. No matter how one looks at it, non-heterosexuals are treated differently than heterosexuals, despite some of society’s efforts to promote gay rights. They do not deserve this unfair treatment that is evident in marriage laws, bullying, and the general attitude of our culture. Fortunately, our culture is changing, slowly but surely, and hopefully one day lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people will have the same rights as straight people.
Those who oppose gay marriage often play the religious card. Let’s not forget that the bible was once used to enforce segregation, but that isn’t practiced anymore. Jay Michaelson states in his article “Ten Reason Why Gay Rights Is a Religious Issue” the bible actually enforces equality for the LGBT community. He wrote, “OPPONENTS OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE REMIND US THAT IN Genesis, “it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” But “Adam and Eve” is the solution to a problem: the existential crisis of aloneness.” He goes on to say that God loves us and doesn’t want to harm ourselves, but the suicide rate among day teens is about six times more of heterosexual teens. People often get asked why a straight person is so passionate about this topic, and the answer to that question is because everyone should have the same rights. Who a person loves should have nothing to do with how they are treated. If one of the women in this room fell in love with a girl, would she be supported? Or ostracized? If your brother came out tomorrow, in the years ahead would you support his desire to get married to his boyfriend? Or would you disapprove? The only way for homophobia and the opposition of rights for non-heterosexuals to stop is if you can answer these questions with true compassion, and with the understanding that everyone, no matter their sexuality, deserves to be loved and respected.
Graham, Jordan. “Gay Slurs and Heteronormativity at ETHS – Evanston, IL Patch.” Evanston Patch. N.p., 19 Oct. 2011. Web. 03 May 2013. . Make Beats Not Beatdowns. “Facts & Statistics.” Bully Facts & Statistics. N.p., 2010. Web. 03 May 2013. . Michaelson, Jay. “Ten Reasons Why Gay Rights Is A Religious Issue.” Tikkun 25.4 (2010): 34-70. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 May 2013. Whitney, Wheelock. “Why I Reject the Marriage Amendment.” StarTribune. N.p., 2011. Web. 03 May 2013. .