I was recently discussing the subject of gay marriage with a fellow online chatter who we'll call Nick. Nick, a confirmed homosexual, made a statement that seriously took me aback and made me think about the source of his perspective. While I don't wish to dissect the entire subject of gay marriage, which has many colors both light and dark, I do wish to explore one angle. The statement that was made to me regarding marriage: "Why would I want to do what straight people do?"

I bring this to your attention because I fear there are high numbers of gay people who may feel the same as Nick. In his opinion, marriage is a legal institution created by and intended for straight people. Therefore, he and others like him want no part of it. From this narrow view, advocating marriage would be the same as supporting any and all rituals of straight people. This brings two disturbing realizations to the surface.

It is obvious to me and hopefully to you that the very nature of Nick's comment, 'what straight people do', is unequivocally discriminatory. To look down upon straight people as if they're beneath us free-spirited homos is as distasteful and inappropriate as the prejudice to which nearly every homosexual has been subject to at one time or another. The freaky part is that Nick, with his dispassionate view of those around him, has no idea that he's discriminating against heterosexuals. It is as if he feels that homosexuals are entitled to feel bitter or prejudiced against their heterosexual counterparts because of all the agony we've endured over the centuries. Is that not just as ridiculous as modern day Africans claiming that they should be compensated for their ancestral slaves and all the horrors they suffered? While we must always acknowledge and learn from the past, we must put even greater focus on the now and the future. Progress is not possible if we linger in yesteryear.

The second aspect of Nick's statement that distressed me is the fact that he simply missed the point altogether. The fight to make same-sex marriage a legal institution has never been based solely on the idea that it would allow homosexuals to do what heterosexuals do, something akin to allowing women the right to vote because it's something men do. Isn't it based on the concept that all people should have the same rights, that all carbon-based earth creatures should be with whom they choose and have that union recognized legally and spiritually? The very thrust of the issue is that marriage should not be something only straight people do. Nick missed that boat. And here we thought it was only heterosexuals who were preventing us from getting married. There are homosexuals who are just as strongly opposed to it, or perhaps indifferent because they see it as a lowly straight institution.

I find Nick's perspective sad and clouded by a form of bigotry that we don't often think about. Even worse is the fact that he was not open to discussion or considering other perspectives. He carries with him a supremely closed mind and jaded view of his world. My 73-year old grandmother, a confirmed bigot and close-minded hick from a generation full of paper-thin and unfounded opinions, actually has a more grounded and open view of the subject than Nick. She turned to me one day after watching a news broadcast on same-sex marriage and said, 'They should have the right to get married just like anybody else.' So, if my 73-year old crabby backwoods grandma sees the light, why doesn't Nick and those in his court?

The motivation behind what drives an opinion varies from person to person. What has occurred in a personal life, particularly negative or disheartening events, can often color one's perception and tend to make it jagged with little room for compromise or reason. The next time you hear someone on our team denigrating same-sex marriage because it's what straight people do, you might mention to them that maybe they oughta think beyond just themselves and their own little ink spot on the globe. Think about those around you who may believe in the sanctity of marriage, the commitment, the symbol, and the demonstration to all that a relationship can have power, meaning and longevity. These people do not draw lines in the sand between hetero and homo on the subject of marriage. To them, it is about people. We must step out of our blackened boxes and realize that there are some things that are about the greater good and not just the individual. Straight people do a lot of things. They breathe, they laugh, they cry, they bleed'and so do we. Ultimately, sexuality doesn't separate us. There are greater uglinesses that separate us such as ignorance and a lack of compassion. So, if you have a little light to share, do so with anyone and everyone who sees the world only through shades of darkness, be they straight, gay, or a neighborhood antelope.

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