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Volume 70, Issue 47, Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Like civil rights movement, 
gay rights cause rooted in equality

Brandon Brewton
Opinion Columnist

Is being gay a choice?

This question was posed to both candidates during the third and final debate on Oct. 13, and has furthered the debate of whether or not gay marriage should be legal in the United States. By using Mary Cheney as an example, John Kerry opened a floodgate of criticism from the Republicans, who were not too fond of his example. Kerry said that Mary Cheney was just being who she was, and it was not her choice to be gay. A very upset Lynne Cheney stated that, "Senator Kerry was not a good man," and she has never seen something so cheap and tawdry.

Why has there not been any criticism of Alan Keyes? He never leaves a public rally without demeaning Mary Cheney with negative remarks and calling her a sexual hedonist. Chastising Senator Kerry and turning a blind eye to Mr. Keyes' remarks shows a double standard from some conservatives. The argument is that Kerry has politicized the issue of gay marriage. But the issue was already placed on the drawing board, with hopes to make a constitutional amendment. This cloud of controversy furthers the debate over gay rights.

On the progressive side of the equation, there seems to be an issue in this country regarding people's feelings about the gay community being treated like second class citizens. Looking at this situation from a conservative viewpoint, gay men and women are being treated just fine and they do not deserve the same rights as proliferating heterosexual couples. At this moment, the American public is overwhelmingly against legalizing gay marriage. On the other side of the coin, they do not support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The Bush Administration's attempt to get legislation passed first through the Senate and finally through the House of Representatives seems to have failed.

It should not be a question of whether gay marriage should be legal or not, but rather a question concerning the American public's approval of two men or two women having sex in the privacy of their own home. People may disapprove of the behavior that goes on behind the scenes, but more than likely the American public will say that it is none of their business. This is a home in which two consenting adults share the same roles and, financially speaking, are husband and wife. In some cases they are parents of children. They are taxpaying citizens and should have the same opportunities as any other person in this melting pot. It is not fair that gay people cannot visit their partners in the hospital because their relationship is not recognized.

If Americans will just step back and look at the bigger picture, many will see that giving gay men and women the same benefits as straight counterparts will benefit all Americans. For instance, having more people on a health plan will lower the fees paid by individuals within a particular company.

It seems as though no one wants to see the brighter side of the situation. Many people are having trouble being objective because they are too disgusted at the thought of two men or two women loving each other. After all, interracial marriage was illegal just 35 years ago. Miscegenation laws (bans on interracial marriages) are strikingly similar to laws against gay marriages.

Some say it is a slap in the face to compare gay and civil rights. These are the same people who feel that homosexuality is a choice. Why would someone choose to live a life that brings pain, and in some unfortunate cases, death? Yes, the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s is different from the gay rights movement of today, but both share the same foundation: discrimination and lack of equality.

Brewton, a columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached at

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