Marriage rights about liberty, not church or politics

In the world of politics, the hot topic has shifted from gun control to gay marriage. President Obama has spoken out in support of gay marriage, making him the first president to do so. For the president, it came down to the people involved in gay marriage not the politics or religion.

In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, the president said, “The only reason presented for treating gays and lesbians differently was, ‘Well, they’re gay and lesbian.’ There wasn’t a real rationale beyond that.” I have to agree with the president. The violence that is committed against gay and lesbian citizens is staggering and at times horrifying, and the only reason is because of who they decide to go against and what is perceived as the social norm.

When examining this issue further, I have come to the conclusion that this issue is not about the church, civil rights or politics, as many have portrayed it, but about civil liberties.

Civil liberties are outlined in the Constitution. These include the right of speech, right to assemble and the right to marry. Trying to connect the gay marriage debate, as valuable as it is, to the civil right movement seems like a way to ignite controversy. A key component of this debate is the benefit of being married, specifically those recognized by insurance companies. All these benefits can be accessed if insurance companies recognize civil unions, giving gay couples access to health and life insurance. Why does the word “marriage” have to be put on it? This is what puts the church into the issue.

To really get to the heart of this debate, it is essential to mud through the excess issues that have been thrown into it. Take out the politics and the religion. When putting it in perspective, imagine spending your life with the love of your life, creating memories good and bad. Now, imagine the person you love becoming sick. You take care of them until their last breath, but you aren’t allowed to see them in the hospital, and when they pass on you get kicked out of the house in which you have shared so many memories.

You cannot even use their life insurance money to pay off their last expenses because insurance companies and hospitals do not recognize your devotion as a “marriage.” These are the issues I believe that the gay marriage debate should center around.

We as a society have turned this debate into a web of opinions and self-righteousness. Both sides are guilty of this. The government should not decide what falls under the right to marriage and should not use the church to defend their position like it has done in the past. That is the base of separating church and state.

The same goes for the supporters of gay marriage, taking a word that is the hot button of the church and using it to prove a point, when simply calling it a civil union will give the same result. “Marriage” is just word outside of the church, and like most words, they can be substituted. Fighting over semantics has gotten us nowhere and will continue until both sides decide to compromise.

Amber Patterson is a sophomore majoring in public relations. Her column runs weekly on Wednesdays.