As you might already know, today was an extremely busy news day with Al Franken FINALLY being allowed to win the Minnesota Senate race after nearly 8 months, Farrah Fawcett being laid to rest, DNA tests on Michael Jackson's kids coming back showing that his dermatologist is the biological father of two of them, and the list goes on. However, tonight I would like to focus on something a bit closer to home.
In 2006, then Blair County Commissioner John Eichelberger was elected to represent my district in the Pennsylvania State Senate after defeating then President Pro-Tempore Bob Jubelirer in the Republican primary, and Greg Morris in the general election. In the first three years of his term, he hasn't been that bad of a representative, and has found time to participate in many community activities, including many Eagle Scout Courts of Honor (but not mine). Given the political tendancies in the 30th District, it's not surprising that he's very popular (Very, very Republican area). Something to note: His campaign slogan was "I Like Eich," which, as I recall, was used (with the same spelling) in support of a radical politician (I'm pretty sure a Socialist) in the early 20th Century, but I don't remember any details. But I digress.
The reason that I bring all this up is something that Senator Eichelberger said 11 days ago that is just now getting out to the public. On June 19th, the Senator was debating Senator Daylin Leach, a Democratic Senator representing PA's 17th District, on the subject of gay marriage and homosexuality. Recently, Senator Leach introduced a bill to the Senate floor that would make PA one of the few states to allow marriage unrestricted by religious ideology. This was countered by Eichelberger's introduction of an amendment to the PA State Constitution that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. At one point in the debate, Eichelberger came out with this line: "They’re [homosexuals] not being punished. We’re allowing them to exist, and do what every American can do. We’re just not rewarding them with any special designation." We're allowing them to exist... wow. As if one day we could just get out of bed and say "We don't feel like letting the LGBTQ community live today" and we go out with our shotguns and gun 'um down. Sorry, Senator Eichelberger, but that's called GENOCIDE.
If, as The Beatles put it, love is all you need, we're forbidding a sizable chunk of our society from getting the only thing they really need if we narrow our definition of marriage. If they don't have what they need to live a good life, couldn't it be said that they aren't even living at all? And if that's true, aren't we actually NOT allowing them to exist? Also, I think he contradicted himself in a big way by saying "...And do what every American to do." If we're really doing that, since every American has the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," people of different persuasions should have all the rights of the straight, White, Christian, homophobic, flag waving Americans that the Republican Party caters to. Since we allow those people to marry and procreate, that would mean that we should afford the not so stereotypical among us the same rights, including the right to marry whomever we want to. So, according to the Senator's OWN WORDS, we should treat everyone equal and allow them to marry. He seems to back this up with his next sentence: "We’re just not rewarding them with any special designation." If you're not going to call them anything but American, that would mean that they have the same rights, right? Obviously, Eichelberger should stick to his talking points next time.
This whole saga with Eichelberger saying that he wants to forbid gay marriage while still preserving the rights of people that prefer to live alternative lifestyles kind of stirs up a topic that has been facing the entire country as of late, and one that typically breaks along party lines (with the notable exception of Dick Cheney, whose daughter is a lesbian). In recent months, several states, including New Hampshire and even Iowa, have legalized gay marriage, while states like New York and Pennsylvania are discussing it. Unfortunately, change has been slowed in many places by lawmakers who are unable or unwilling to let go of their political or religious beliefs long enough to realize the many benefits that come from more marriages, despite that whole "separation of church and state" thing. First of all, homosexual couples tend to stay together longer. This is extremely important in a country where nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Maybe they can teach our whole country a lesson, if they're given a chance. Benefit number 2 is the amount of money that's pumped into the economy for a wedding. If all 776,943 same-sex couples in the US were to get married, assuming a $20,400 average per wedding (the current average in the US) it would add over 15 billion dollars to the economy, giving us some much needed liquidity in the market. Denmark has allowed gay marriage for at least a decade, and they now have one of the strongest economies in the world. Thirdly, it would improve our standing in the world. The fact that we discriminate against homosexuals by not allowing them to visit their partners in a hospital, or have child custody if their partner bears children, makes us look bad when we're calling for the end of human rights abuses in Sudan, China, or elsewhere.
So, just by legalizing gay marriage, we could decrease our divorce rate, fix our economy, and improve diplomatic relations with foreign countries. What are we waiting for? The simple answer is we're waiting for more public support, especially those that are a tad more religious than the average "Joe Sixpack," whoever he is. While the public is starting to come around, it's a slow process. Somehow, we need to convince the Christian Right, including the John Eichelbergers out there, that just because something is immoral to an Evangelical Christian doesn't mean it's immoral to someone of a different faith.
If you agree with me that marriage is an inherent human right, and allowing marriage based on love and not ideology is a quick and easy way to fix several of the big issues facing our nation, I have a challenge for you. After you're done reading this, contact your state representatives, senators, and Governor, giving them the facts and asking them to either support current legislation to legalize gay marriage, or to introduce it if there isn't any. There are also various petitions that you can sign online that are sent to national representatives, one of which can be found here: https://secure3.convio.net/lambda/site/SPageNavigator/petitions/partners_for_health_care_fairness.
Remember, questions and comments are always appreciated. :)