Gay Marriage: The Civil Rights Movement of the 21st Century

By Katie Enright |

I was in my sophomore year of high school when my sister called me from her dorm room at the University of Iowa to tell me she had fallen in love. I was so happy for her, I asked all the questions you ask someone about their significant other.

“We met through mutual friends,” she said. “We have been together for a few months. They make me so happy. They’re just so amazing. I really love them.”

It was then that something caught my attention. “They, they, they.” She was playing what is known as the pronoun game and I knew exactly what that meant. It wasn’t long into the conversation that my sister told me to brace myself for some shocking news.

The person she had fallen in love with was a girl.

Admittedly, it was shocking news, but looking back on this, I never for one second was disappointed, sad or scared. The only word that comes to mind is intrigued. We talked on the phone for hours and discussed what this meant for her. She told me that her whole life she’d been attracted to both men and women, and that if she ever fell in love, it wouldn’t matter what their gender was, only who they were as a person.

It was this conversation with my sister — that very moment — that has shaped how I think about the gay population and how I believe all people should feel about it. It’s not a choice or a decision to be gay. It’s a feeling.

As people, we can’t control who we love and we shouldn’t have to try. When we find the person we want to be with, there shouldn’t be anything standing in our way. I know that one day I want to be married with children, and I will sleep better at night knowing that if anything were to happen to me, my significant other would be able to take care of our children, be able to make the decisions for all their lives if I am unable to.

This isn’t a luxury, it’s a right as an American we should all have.

I spoke with a woman, Jessica, who is planing to marry her girlfriend this summer. Although they are having a wedding, they are not getting legally married until they are financially stable enough to file the paper work to do so. They both feel it’s important to have a wedding regardless of if their marriage is recognized legally.

“Our families are both very supportive of us and having the wedding is just another step into solidifying our relationship,” she said. “Even though we know that here in Georgia it is not legal, it is important to us to have our commitment in front of our family and friends.”

They are having their marriage legalized afterward only to make sure if something were to happen to one of them they would be able to keep the assets they share.

This concept is a no-brainer to me. You love someone, you move in together, you share a life. You want to have your relationship recognized by law. Nine out of 50 states have legalized gay marriage, and as the years pass, more states are following the pattern.

Sometimes I imagine what certain people 60 years ago would say about gay rights today, but I’m pretty sure they would be too busy holding up picket signs preaching about how inter-racial marriage is wrong.

So in another 60 years from today, after gay marriage is legalized everywhere, I hope the people picketing outside gay weddings screaming about how, “It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and STEVE,” will feel as silly as the racists of the Civil Rights Movement in the 50s and 60s.

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