Reject marriage amendment to stop paranoia
On Friday, Florida4Marriage.org submitted the last few thousand signatures required to get a proposed state amendment banning gay marriage on the November ballot.
Please vote "no" on it.
It's not enough simply to not vote at all or to leave that question blank on the ballot. We need to reject it.
We need to reject it to be on the right side of history.
In 1998, South Carolina voters repealed a century-old constitutional ban on interracial marriage. Alabama voters did the same in 2000. In both cases, each state was the recipient of head-shaking, eye-rolling disdain from the rest of the country, and deservedly so.
If Florida voters pass the amendment, history teaches us it won't be permanent.
The suppression of equality with tradition as the primary rationale never lasts, and a future generation will go back and correct it.
And when they do, they'll be forced to make the same sheepish excuses South Carolinians and Alabamians used to apologize for their forbearers, and we shouldn't put that burden on our children.
We also need to reject it to stop stoking paranoia and fear about gay people - people who are our family, friends and neighbors.
The arguments for the amendment usually take the form of protecting marriage from sliding down a slippery slope of pedophilia, polygamy and bestiality - and that's absurd.
Two consenting adults agreeing to love each other isn't the same as an adult manipulating a minor. Sexual orientation isn't the same as deciding that having a bunch of wives would be pretty cool.
And unless you've got some freaky, Eliza Thornberry-type skills, you're unable to acquire consent or an emotional connection from a goat.
But more than anything else, we need to reject it on the basis of human decency.
The idea of finding someone to fall in love with who will, in turn, help you fall in love with the world is daunting enough.
Finding someone who might be that person and then discovering they're not interested, or they're already seeing someone or they think you're kind of an ass - that's painful.
What isn't okay is to find someone you love and then be told that your love is illegitimate and little more than a perverse paraphilia.
That's neither political nor ideological.
It's inhumane, and it's an inhumanity I can't even imagine having to deal with when being a single heterosexual sometimes seems tough enough.
The discussion over gay rights is one worth having.
Those opposing gay rights have their reasons, ranging from the sociological to the religious, and many of the reasons are, if nothing else, understandable.
What can't be forgotten in this discussion is that this is not about pushing an agenda or grabbing political power, and the people involved are not imaginary or hypothetical.
They're real people, living real lives, trying their best to find someone who can make their lives a little brighter and whose life they can help brighten.
This amendment isn't just an attempt to end the discussion. It's a callous kick in the face to people whose only crime was having the audacity to want to love someone.
A "no" vote on this proposed amendment is not an endorsement of gay rights.
It's merely a vote for understanding and an affirmation that a sense of decency toward each other still means something even if we're not in agreement.
And that, too, is neither political nor ideological.
Joe Dellosa is an advertising sophomore and president of Human Decency Now, a UF student political activist group working for gay rights.
Copyright © 2010, Joe Dellosa.