Marriage is a right for all U.S. citizens

by By Eric

There are currently many arguments in vogue concerning the rights of gays and lesbians to marry. It is anathema to a democracy to even have such dialogue. The rights of gays and lesbians to marry should, as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, be self-evident. As citizens of the United States, gays and lesbians are entitled to all the rights, responsibilities and privileges of citizenship as well as equal protection under the law.
In the eyes of the law, which is all that really matters in this issue, a marriage is one thing and only one thing: a contract. Laws governing contracts and their enforcement vary from state to state but generally have very few requirements that most Americans already meet. In most states, a contract is made if: all parties enter the contract of their own free will in absence of duress or coercion; all parties are of majority age; all parties are competent. In fact, a contract does not even have to be written to be enforceable by law in most states. I am unaware of any other contract that requires gender or sexual prerequisites.
To many people, however, marriage is much more than a mere contract. Many view marriage as a sacred union and even as the cornerstone of civilization. As such they treat it with great reverence. This is their right. In many cases, their marriage is sanctified by spiritual, religious or other ceremonies. All marriages performed in this manner are legal and binding, providing that the parties have secured the permission of the government — a marriage license.
Others, however, view marriage in different terms and forego ceremonial undertakings altogether. They are married in civil ceremonies that are also legal and binding. This is their right. As such, marriages come in many varieties and mean many things to many people.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that demands conformity. There is certainly room for personal expression, but it is within limits. Many of us believe (including many of us in government) that we have a right to tell others how to live their lives. The danger of living in a free society is that someone may say something you don’t like. Someone may lead a lifestyle that offends you. Someone may do something that gives you great psychological discomfort but does not harm you in any way. This is the case with gay marriage.
I challenge anyone who opposes the extension of full and legal rights to those who are already supposed to possess them. Can anyone give a solid argument to point out even one instance of how gay marriage would interfere with his or her enjoyment of rights and privileges accorded by the United States? This includes President Clinton and U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, who both supported and passed the Defense of Marriage Act.
I have some advice for the gay community in Minnesota and around the country: Choose your friends carefully. If Candace Gingrich is still in town, she may want to re-evaluate her endorsement of Wellstone and remove the “Wellstone: Our Senator” button she was seen wearing in a picture accompanying the Oct. 24 Daily article “Noted activists visit the Cities.” Unfortunately, the gay community has few friends in the government.
It is time that we extend all the rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution to all our citizens regardless of how we feel about them. That is, in theory, the American Way.
Eric Boyer is a College of Liberal Arts senior.