Gay Marriage Civil Rights Essay Prompt

+ All Gay Marriage Essays:

  • Marriage
  • Analyzing Same-Sex Marriage
  • Determinism and Existentialism in View of Same-Sex Marriage
  • Marriage by Gregory Corso
  • Gays in the Military
  • Legalization of Same Sex Marriage in America
  • Same Sex Marriage Affirmative Side
  • Gay Civil Rights
  • Gay or Lesbian Parenting and the Psychological Effects on Their Adoptive Children
  • Defense of Marriage Act
  • Should Same-Sex Marriage Be Legalized in Hong Kong?
  • Gay Rights
  • Gay And Lesbians Marriage
  • Same-Sex Marriage Legalization
  • A Discussion of Same-Sex Marriage
  • Taking a Look at Marriage
  • Legalizing Gay Marriage
  • Divorce and Marriages in the US
  • Same Sex Marriage
  • Same Sex Marriage Should NOT Be Allowed
  • Attitudes Towards Same-Sex Marriage
  • Same Sex Marriage Should Be Legalized
  • Gay Marriage Should Be Legal
  • Homosexual Marriage Should Be Legal
  • Should Same-Sex Marriage Be Legalized?
  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Gay Marriage Should be Legal
  • Same-Sex Marriage Should be Legalized
  • Gays in the Military
  • Anti Same Sex-Marriages
  • Too Naïve for Marriage
  • Peer Marriage
  • Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Legal
  • Arranged Marriage in India
  • Lesbian and Gay Teens
  • Gay Dance Clubs
  • Semantic Change: How Gay Became Homosexual
  • Marriage & Divorce
  • Gay Marriage Will Harm Children
  • Trends in Family Formation: A Look at Same-Sex Marriage
  • Same-Sex Marriage
  • Defining Legal Marriage in America
  • Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage
  • Benedick's Attitude's to Love and Marriage
  • Florida and the Future of Gay Adoption
  • The Case for Gay Marriage
  • The Disadvantages of Allowing Same Sex Marriages
  • Gays/Lesbians Normalization in America
  • Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues - Same-sex Marriage is Inevitable
  • The Battle Over Same-Sex Marriage
  • The Debate Over Gay Rights Movement
  • Marriage: Is It Just for a Man and a Woman?
  • Against Legalizing Homosexual Marriages
  • Compare and Contrast Two Views of Gay Marriage
  • Defense of Marriage Act
  • Hate Crimes Against Gays
  • Interracial Relations and Marriages
  • My Invisible Gay Culture
  • Same Sex Marriage and the Church
  • Same-Sex Marriage Should be Legal
  • Marriage and Divorce in "Hard Times"
  • In a Country of Diversity and Tolerance, Discrimination for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender Still Exists
  • Why Marriage Matters
  • Gay Marriage: All Men Are Not Created Equal
  • Recognizing Same-Sex Marriage Legally in the United States
  • Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage
  • Gay Marriage Is a Human Rights Issue
  • The Theme of Marriage in Middlemarch
  • Same-Sex Marriage and Adoption Should Be Legal
  • Let Us Legalize Gay Marriage
  • A Biblical Look At Marriage
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Inclusion
  • The Same Sex Marriage Debate
  • The Evolution of Same-Sex Marriage
  • Teen Marriage
  • Gay Rights: Homosexuals Deserve the same Rights as Heterosexuals
  • Marriage and Security
  • Reasons for Incompatibility in Marriages
  • Marriage in the Middle Ages
  • The Legalization of Same Sex Marriage
  • Gay Couples Should Not Be Allowed to Adopt Children
  • Views on Gay Marriage in Anna Quindlin’s Essay Evan’s Two Moms
  • Should Gay Marriage Be Legal?
  • History of Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Effect of Early Marriage
  • Perspective of an Ideal Marriage
  • Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues - Gay Teenagers and the Internet
  • Gender Roles and Marriage
  • Gay Child Rearing
  • Cohabitation Before Marriage
  • Are Arranged Marriages and Forced Marriages Unethical
  • Gay Marriage Should Be Legal
  • Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues - Same-Sex Marriage and the Destruction of American Culture
  • Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage
  • The Debate over Gay Parenting

My mother's father didn't want to attend her wedding. To a Chinese immigrant who came to New York as a boy, who had lived and toiled in the back of a laundromat and worked his way up to become a successful insurance business owner and community leader, the prospect of his oldest child marrying a black American man was not just shameful, it was a step backward.

As the date approached and the tension increased, my parents had no idea of how many guests to plan for. My father's parents welcomed the marriage, so they were in, but because my grandfather was head of his extended family, no one could go if he didn't. Finally, luckily, his own mother, my great-grandmother, sat him down and told him she would obey his wishes but that he was being pigheaded and should support his daughter. Which, finally, he did and everyone reconciled.

My great-grandmother might also have mentioned that her son's reflexive prejudice was a bit ironic given the innumerable racial slights and indignities he had suffered in America, including in the Army, at the hands of whites. But then, it's hardly an unusual pattern. Just look at the black religious leaders—like Rev. Bernice King, a daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.; evangelical juggernaut Bishop T. D. Jakes; and groups like the Memphis-based Coalition of African American Pastors—who've joined ranks with the conservative Right in opposing gay marriage. They say gay rights are not the same as civil rights. They accuse gays and lesbians of "hijacking" the civil rights movement for their homosexual agenda. They say it's unholy and unnatural. But it's for perhaps that last argument alone that, as the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court mulls a challenge to an old state law now being used to prohibit out-of-state homosexual couples from wedding there, black Americans should sympathize with gays and lesbians who want to marry.

Of course there are important differences. "The comparison with slavery is a stretch," Jesse Jackson asserted in a speech at Harvard last year, "in that some slave masters were gay, in that gays were never called three-fifths human in the Constitution and in that they did not require the Voting Rights Act to have the right to vote." All of which is true. Race is most often, rightly or not, signified physically. While gays have been, and still are in many instances, forced to play straight, they at least had a refuge. It was historically difficult, usually impossible, and often illegal, for a black person to pass as white (even if 15/16ths of his blood was). They had nowhere to hide.

So yes, in the game of Who's Been More Systematically Oppressed?, black people win hands down. But that doesn't discount the hardships of other groups. (Remember the federal Defense of Marriage Act?) And it doesn't mean everyone isn't entitled to equal rights. Through the years, America has dished out enough oppression to go around. Much of it has been strikingly similar. The anti-miscegenation laws that were enacted in much of the South were rooted in interpretations of the Bible. Interracial intimacy was seen as unnatural. Blacks were put forth as filthy sub-humans who wanted to muddy white bloodlines and thus destroy the goodness of the white race. Race mixing was akin to bestiality. Sound familiar? "Defenders" of marriage, from Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to Justice Antonin Scalia to Pope Benedict, have tossed out arguments just like these in their quest to keep same-sex couples from the altar.

And, when his state's high court cleared the way for gay marriage, Gov. Mitt Romney invoked a law from 1913 prohibiting Massachusetts marriage licenses from being given to nonresident couples whose union would be "void" in their home state. Anti-integrationists were plain wrong then; black people had no master plan to destroy the institution of the white family. Who's to say the forces against gay marriage won't be proven Chicken Littles as well?

But let's set aside the moral question of gayness. Conservative blacks should denounce the Massachusetts law in question not because they've suddenly decided to embrace something they find wrong but because the law is wrong. It's ostensibly a Federalist argument that is in fact homophobic—and was racist—in intent. And it offends me to the core that lawmakers would deny equal rights to one minority group using a statute created to target others, a statute that could have barred, even invalidated, my existence and might have prevented me from marrying my (white) boyfriend from Massachusetts in Massachusetts. Remember that it took until 1967 for the U.S. Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the anti-miscegenation laws that remained on the books in 16 states—and that Alabama still didn't repeal its law until five years ago.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is expected to decide within four months whether to grant marriage licenses to out-of-state gay and lesbian couples, to grant them the same rights enjoyed by in-state homosexual couples since 2003. I'm hoping the Court rules in favor of the eight same-sex couples, from the other five New England states plus New York, that want to certify their commitment to each other. Then the Court would be sticking to the principle that guided its original decision that cleared the way for gay marriage in the first place, the same tenet that led the U.S. Supreme Court to unanimously decriminalize interracial unions forty years ago: the notion that marriage is "one of the basic civil rights." A law that blatantly denies that right and one that essentially affirms such laws elsewhere, are equally unjust.

Black Americans don't need to approve of or understand homosexuality to recognize that. And they owe it to successes of the civil rights movement, to their own triumph over inhumane treatment and accusations of an impure agenda, to try. My mother's father was a religious man too, but I believe he would have.

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