After last week's California Supreme Court ruling that banning gay marriage was unconstitutional, I've seen and been part of a lot of gay-marriage chatter on the web.
At first I wasn't going to post anything here, but then I decided that people who choose not to talk about it are sort of part of the problem, so here's what I think (with thanks to Joe for letting me yap away about all this stuff on his site):
I've been a proponent of gay marriage for a while, and though I'm not an expert, I think this is what it comes down to: yes, civil unions are pretty darn close to marriage.
But, as a straight woman in love with my husband I didn't want a civil union, I wanted a wedding with the officiant of my choice who would marry us in front of the people most important to us.
I think any person, straight, gay, whatever, who is in love, deserves to make that choice for themselves.
It's sort of like the separate but equal idea from the civil rights era. A civil union might be darn close to marriage, but it's not, when you come right down to it, marriage.
And, ultimately, by telling gay people that they can have a civil union but not a marriage you're saying that they're kind of equal, but still pretty separate.
I think George Takei said it best when he announced his intention to marry his partner of 21 years, Brad Altman:
"As a Japanese American, I am keenly mindful of the subtle and not so subtle discrimination that the law can impose. During World War II, I grew up imprisoned behind the barbed wire fences of U.S. internment camps. Pearl Harbor had been bombed and Japanese Americans were rounded up and incarcerated simply because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Fear and war hysteria swept the nation. A Presidential Executive Order directed the internment of Japanese Americans as a matter of national security. Now, with the passage of time, we look back and see it as a shameful chapter of American history...With time, I know the opposition to same sex marriage, too, will be seen as an antique and discreditable part of our history..."
[Stepping down off soapbox now.]