Support marriage equality, stand for progress

John David Thompson

As of Monday, some Alabama counties began issuing same-sex marriage licenses. As for the other counties, judges are refusing by using tactics eerily similar to those used in the Jim Crow era. Alabama’s state motto, “We Dare Defend our Rights,” is very appropriate for this state. Alabamians have a long history of defending their rights: from the first capitol of the Confederacy to being the center of the Civil Rights Movement. Political figures such as George Wallace and now Justice Roy Moore far too often shape the nation’s and the world’s image of Alabamians. Now is the time for Alabamians who believe in universal acceptance and justice to have the courage to stand for their beliefs.

One of the most prevalent arguments against same-sex marriage is religious conviction. Slavery and Jim Crow were defended for the very same reasons. Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederate States of America said, “[Slavery] is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator.” In George Wallace’s 1953 inaugural address, just months before his infamous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” he used the word “God” 27 times.

If certain probate judges are not going to issue same sex-marriage licenses because of religious beliefs, then they should not issue marriage licenses to persons who have been divorced or to adulterers. In fact, if we are going to follow Biblical law, adulterers would be sentenced to death. At any rate, should we truly impose Biblical law, our society would much more resemble one under the rule of Sharia Law, not what America has today. The Reverend Ellin Jimmerson, a Baptist minister in Huntsville who performed the first same-sex marriage ceremony in Huntsville, wrote, “We would not be comfortable with the Biblical model that is one man, one woman, one concubine. Nor would we be comfortable with the idea of a widow being compelled to marry her brother-in-law. There is very little in the Bible which reflects the modern idea of one man and one woman united by love.”

What is destroying American society today is not the LGBT population but the increasing number of couples who get divorced. Studies have shown that children who are victims of divorce are more likely to develop depression and anxiety, perform poorly in school and end a marriage in divorce. In Alabama, the Center for Disease Controls reports that in 2011, the marriage rate was 8.4 per thousand persons and the divorce rate was 4.3 per thousand persons. In Matthew, Jesus compares divorce to adultery. Even in the traditional sense of marriage, not all Alabamians are “good Christians.”

America is not a nation comprised solely of Christians. It is a nation of all beliefs: Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, agnostics, etc. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Because the United States has no state religion, it cannot base its code of laws on a book written thousands of years ago, with laws that were oppressive and barbaric.

If the state of Alabama chooses to prohibit same-sex marriage, an institution that poses no more threat to our morals than heterosexual marriage, on the grounds of religion or for any other reason, it will be turning its back on protecting civil rights and liberties and institutionalizing systematic hate and oppression for minority groups. Now is the time for Alabamians to come together and make Alabama a place for acceptance and equality for all. Two of Martin Luther King’s most important messages were “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” and “the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.” Alabamians must not keep silent in their support of marriage equality. Now we must all stand together and let the voice of love and acceptance ring louder than the voice of hate and injustice.

John David Thompson is a sophomore studying political science. His column runs biweekly.