This evening I proudly stand in support of SB 6239.
We have heard many people say that by passing this legislation today we are ‘redefining marriage’.
The reality is that marriage has evolved through many forms over the centuries. We all know that one common form of marriage in the past included the betrothal of a young woman – often in her early teens – or even pre-teen - to a much older man - even when the girl strongly objected. I think today we all would find that once common definition of marriage objectionable.
Over the years, marriages between people of different social statuses, different religious persuasions, different ethnicities, and different races have been unacceptable or even illegal. Many of you have heard me talk about the discrimination and the predictions of terrible consequences that my husband and I faced when we married almost 44 years ago – one year after a ban on interracial marriage in our country was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. I’m glad the definition of a legal marriage was changed to include mine. A marriage I cherish so much.
We hear that the purpose of marriage is procreation, and that this legislation undermines that purpose.
Yet, I am unaware of any belief that would not support marriages between couples well past the age of procreation, between couples who for some reason are unable to bring children into the world and even for couples who do not want to bring children into the world.
Some of these couples will adopt children providing them a safe secure nurturing home. Many same sex couples do the exact same thing. And many couples whether heterosexual or same sex utilize the wonders of modern medical technology to bring their own biological children into the world.
Why should one group of parents - heterosexual couples, have a special right to marriage that is denied to same sex parents?
Both are providing society with the same benefit – a loving safe home for children.
Today, I believe that most people view marriage with a much broader definition than those of the past.
Marriage is about a mutual pledge – not a coerced pledge – of a life-long commitment –well past the child bearing or child rearing age - to love and support each other through better or worse, in sickness and in health, in richness or poverty, until death.
That is a big benefit to the couple and it is a benefit to the general welfare of society. Research shows that married couples are happier, healthier and live longer than unmarried people.
A few years ago, my granddaughter who was 8 or 9 a the time- told me of her wish that I would be able to be there on her ‘marriage day’ – that’s what she called it. She expressed her vision of finding someone to spend her life with, just as her parents had - and as her ‘papa’ and I had. Again, her vision was about finding a soul mate to make a lifelong commitment to. I think we can all agree that is a wonderful vision.
It’s my belief that a person’s sexual orientation is determined when they are born.
We all know many young people in our communities are acknowledging their sexual orientation early in life and almost everyone here has spoken out against the bullying and discrimination these young people often experience.
In my opinion, denying them the opportunity to fulfill the vision my granddaughter spoke about, and that so many of these young people share, is also discrimination. How does denying them the right to this dream benefit society and the public interest?
I ask you to join me in supporting marriage equality.