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    Benin Dakar

    Beyond the Political:
    Personal Inspiration from the Massachusetts Supreme Court Ruling

    by Benin Dakar

    The courageous ruling by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts lifting the ban against gay marriage is important not only for residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; but for all Americans. The decision by the Massachusetts court has the same foresight and courage of the US Supreme Court in the famous Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954. The right for gays and lesbians to marry is far more than a political issue -- it is an issue that impacts personal liberty, which is the cornerstone of America.

    What is the logic for restricting marriage to mean only a union between a man and woman? Some say that marriage is for procreation. So do you restrict marriage for infertile heterosexual couples? What about May-December relationships? What about couples who carry troublesome genes that mean almost certain cognitive or physical disability for their offspring: should folks with crummy chromosomes have their right to marriage restricted?
    Some say gay marriage is an assault against the family. Gays and lesbians know that family in its many manifestations is the foundation of society and civilization. Gays and lesbians want to partner with heterosexual couples in forming strong and enduring American families with legal rights for inheritance, child welfare, etc. that all family formations should enjoy. No one is talking about some new twist on marriage or legally sanctioned orgies; but simply about the right for two human beings to come together and share their lives and resources.
    What gay marriage really means is that same sex couples will have their right to freedom of association and their freedom to make contracts upheld -- just like persons in heterosexual marriages. It is just that unexciting. It is of fundamental importance.

    What gays and lesbians seek is to exercise their right and necessity to make contacts of the heart and the hearth, just like heterosexual adults.

    What legal marriage means for gays and lesbians is being able to have the right to make medical decisions about your spouse and final arrangements for him or her without fearing that the "real or blood family" (who may have been estranged from your spouse for many years), will come in and make intimate decisions that morally only you have the right to make. Many gays and lesbians are literally cast out of their partners lives during illness or when death comes, because they have no legal rights -- even though these couples have shared their lives for many years.

    Gay marriage also means that a same sex couple can ensure that their home and estate is passed to their partner without having to make complex legal arrangements. It also ensures that if your beloved dies that the surviving partner does not have to become pauperized in addition to being bereaved, because the surviving spouse will have legal rights to social security and pension benefits of the deceased spouse. There is a host of other mundane rights that heterosexual couples take for granted: like family plans for health insurance and parental rights, that would be protected for same sex couples having the right to legally marry.

    Many of the attacks on gay marriage comes from the increasingly Taliban like religious right. They skillfully mix their take on Christianity with their very narrow right wing politics; and along with other red herrings, like the abortion issue, school prayer, and the ten commandments being placed in public buildings -- uses the gay marriage issue for their selfish divide and conquer America tactics. As more Americans become educated about what gay marriage really means, most Americans will become more supportive of gay marriage.
    Less than forty years ago, in 1967, the US Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that anti-miscegenation laws were misguided and that love was colorblind. Many Americans today may not personally prefer interracial marriage, but they know that others right to form interracial familial bonds, is part of what makes America unique and strong. Many Americans are learning that love is also blind to gender. Americans will understand that those whose emotional, spiritual, and physical attraction is for their own gender also must have access to legally marry.

    America has gone through many transformations -- and although the struggle of ideals and dealing with new realities has sometimes been extremely difficult and tumultuous, eventually our republic expanded to include newcomers and new ideas that have enriched and strengthened our nation. The issue of gay marriage is another of these divine tests for America -- and precedent gives us much reason for hope that America will have the wisdom and courage to transcend one of the last vestiges of "acceptable" prejudice -- homophobia.

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