Kyle, Joseph, and Eric are three men in love. Last week, in Dallas, Texas, they held a wedding ceremony to show the world how meaningful and deep their relationship was.
However, homosexual marriage is banned in the state of Texas. Because of this, the wedding was interrupted by state police. In accordance with Dallas City Ordinance 1283842, the attendees at the wedding have been slapped with tickets amounting to $300 each for “showing open and public support for an unofficial union event deemed immoral and reprehensible by Texas state law.” The grooms and the priest were cuffed mid-vow and taken into custody, and they have now been charged and are awaiting trial. If convicted, they could each face twenty-year prison sentences.
Actually, that never happened, because homosexual marriage is not banned in Texas or in any state. If three men or two women or five transsexuals want to hold a wedding ceremony in a church or other venue that endorses or overlooks their sexual eccentricities, they have every right within the law to do so. No police will show up. They will not be fined, imprisoned, deported, or killed by government officers.
Some types of marriage are banned in various parts of the world. Clearly, such a publicly celebrated homosexual marriage would not be permitted by the state in Saudi Arabia and many other places. Interfaith marriage bans are similarly in place in many countries. Those who participate in such events face very real risks to their liberty, property, and lives. However, this is not the case in the United States.
When I was nine years old, I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This was a momentous event for me. It was something we all took very seriously: we held a carefully planned baptismal service, the service was done by someone who had the proper authority, and it was all carefully recorded in the Church’s records. We even have the names of two official witnesses. However, neither the state government nor the federal government give any recognition to the event. Am I offended? Do I feel oppressed or marginalized? Certainly not. If it had been necessary to hold the service in secret for fear that we might be discovered by the authorities of a government that had banned the practice, I would definitely feel that way. However, the mere fact that there is no recognition of the event means nothing to me.
Some would say that this is an inaccurate comparison because, unlike baptism or any other religious induction ceremony, some marriages are officially recognized by our government, while others are not. They would say that government should officially recognize either all marriages or none of them. That is certainly a debate worth having. However, this fact remains: Homosexual marriages are not banned in the United States. There is a big difference between ignoring something and banning it.
Some would say that this is a mere matter of semantics, and that it departs from the most important issue. However, I feel that it is important to take note when something as controversial as this is mislabeled by virtually every media outlet – including the supposedly conservative ones. If it is worth talking about, then it is worth talking about correctly. If you are angry about some perceived injustice, you cannot hope to bring about positive change except by speaking very clearly and precisely about what is bothering you so much. Otherwise, don’t expect anyone to listen.
And perhaps more importantly, consider this: We belittle the plight of people who stare death in the face in the name of love by putting their peril on the same level as the bureaucratic annoyances faced by people who simply lack the effusive blessing of the state.