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I know same-sex marriage is a touchy subject and no matter what position I take, someone will be offended. The New York State Assembly has a bill, A-8590, that would amend the domestic relations law to allow for same sex civil marriages. NO religious organization would be forced to perform any ceremony against their beliefs.

While there’s a very good chance this bill will never pass, I hope it does. Still, no matter what the outcome, I’m glad our new Governor, Eliot Spitzer, stuck to his word and brought this issue out of the closet, so to speak.

It’s a straight-forward bill (no pun intended) that would correct what to me amounts to a Constitutional injustice. The 14th Amendment says that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” and as I see it, that should include discrimination based on gender. Plain and simple…if I can marry a man, so can a man.

Now I know that raises the hackles of some people and I respect that. People from different backgrounds and beliefs differ strongly on this – as well as many other things. And I will admit that when this issue first started coming up, it touched on some deeply held beliefs of my own about marriage being for men and women only. But the more I thought about it, the more I listened to the simple pleas of decent people just wanting to be with each other, I came to understand that two people – even of the same sex – deserve the right to exchange promises to love each other and be part of each others lives and to have that commitment recognized by the state.

What is marriage anyway? For those of you who say it’s about having children, the logic doesn’t hold. For instance, you’re denying me the right to marry since I can no longer have children. And all those older couples who find love in their golden years? Pfft! No marriage, guys – you can’t produce. As for those younger opposite-sex couples who just don’t want kids? No marriage for you either! It’s a bogus argument. Although once again I understand the underlying sentiment is based on personally held beliefs and long-standing tradition. Slavery was a long-standing tradition many believed in. So was women and blacks not voting.

Tradition is a beautiful thing, but as society matures it hopefully learns to open its doors – even if it takes a while – to equality for all. Why shouldn’t everyone have the right to the tradition of marriage if they want it? There is no good reason to deny a loving couple equal rights and protection under the law.

Rather than threatening marriage in any way, accepting the equality of same-sex partners to participate in this basic civil right will go a long way toward strengthening the beauty of the institution for everyone. And it will go a long way in helping us learn to tolerate and yes even love one another – differences and all.

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If you want to read more:

NY Times article about Governor Spitzer proposing the equal rights for civil-marriage legislation for New York State

Fourteenth Amendment: Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.