According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 only 48 percent of American households were comprised of married couples, marking the first time in our nation’s history that married couples are not a majority of the census.
As the number of couples deciding to get or stay married continues to decline, the push for gay marriage continues to gain momentum. Earlier this year, a federal court ruled that California’s Proposition 8 out- lawing gay marriage is unconstitutional. Washington and Maryland have now joined the list of states where gay marriage is legal. The state legislature in New Jersey also passed a marriage equality bill. Even former Vice President Dick Cheney supports states making gay marriage legal. And for the first time since Gallup has been tracking the issue, a majority of Americans (53 percent) support legalizing same-sex marriage. But there are still plenty of people, many in positions of power, who think gay relationships are inferior to straight ones.
One of the central (and ridiculous) arguments made against marriage equality is the idea that the institution of traditional marriage will be damaged or destroyed if gay couples can marry. I have never really understood the logic behind this argument, probably because there is none. Just how do gay couples destroy traditional marriage? I have no clue. In all my years of practicing marriage and family therapy, I have never seen or heard of a marriage failing because two gay guys wanted to get married (unless, of course, one of them is currently the wife’s husband!)
So, if marriage as a whole is becoming less and less attractive for so many Americans, why is it so important for gay couples to be able to say “I do” when so many in the larger society are opting for “I don’t?” Why should we care anymore? Isn’t marriage going out of style? We need to care—must care—because, whether you are partnered or happily single, the marriage equality debate is about a lot more than romantic relationships. It is about choice, about empowerment, about human dignity. It is about having the power to choose who we want to share our story with and in what capacity. It is about granting to all the same civil rights that are now only enjoyed by some. It is about ripping oppression from its roots to make room for freedom, the freedom to be the very person you were created to be.