Thursday, February 24, 2011
House Bill 74- Wyomings Anti-Gay Sentiment
UNLESS YOUR GAY!!!
Ask any child that resides in the state of Wyoming today about our state motto and it's fairly certain he or she will give the same answer that has been taught to them since kindergarten; Wyoming is the state of Equality due to the fact that women were given the right to vote in this state before any other state even considered them close to being capable of making such an intellectually challenging choice on election day. Apparently that was the first and last time that word "equality" meant anything other than an easy answer on a grade school government test. Right now Wyoming's Legislature is busy trying to invade our bedrooms and relationships by defining what it means to be a legalized couple in the eyes of the law.
House bill 74 is all about defining what "marriage" means and according to our constitution marriage has always been defined as that existing between "one man and one woman". Those who support this bill love to repeat this phrase over and over again..."marriage is defined as..." as if that is the end of the matter and there is nothing further to say. Here is my question regarding that long held definition. What does a definition of a word really mean at the end of the day?
We humans, in our cerebral capacity, invented language as a means of easier communication. Telling someone what you need is faster and more accurate then subjecting them to a round of charades in which they must spend precious amounts of time trying to understand your arm waving and facial contortions. While we were busy inventing language we also invented the definitions of each word our new language acquired. To have a universal definition for a word facilitated comprehension and communication.
Here is a fact about our language...it's not as set in stone as some would like to believe. We take on new words and new meanings almost as fast as we take on new fashion trends and bad habits. While we were busy inventing new words we also invented this one particular new word; redefine. Redefining a word means taking one that already exists, such as "marriage", and making it mean something similar but adding a twist so to speak. It still means basically the same thing but due to how our culture changes and how we interact with each other and with the world at large, old words have this ability to take on slightly new meanings. Now, for instance, marriage as defined by the state of Wyoming, means a union existing between one man and one woman; but we must remember that that definition was created by a culture of people that assumed heterosexuality was the only form of sexuality that mattered. Heterosexuals were the "norm" and they happened to also be the ones defining words for us as they created law. Homosexuality was viewed as deviant and abnormal and was commonly thought to be a form of criminal behavior akin to pedophilia and bestiality. Who would even consider defining marriage in such a way to include such pariahs of society? Not the writer's of our constitution obviously; or should I say not the readers of it.
However, while the writer's of our constitution may not have been invisioning a day when acceptable relationships did not mean just one man and one woman, they did make way for the possibility that marriage would some day need to be redefined by including Article 1 Section 2 that states that "all members of the human race are created equal" and Article 1 Section 3 which states that "the laws of this state affecting the political rights and privileges of its citizens shall be without distinction of race, color, or sex...". This leads us back to the definition of marriage that supporters of House Bill 74 are insisting is the only acceptable definition as stated in our constitution. To any casual reader of our constitution this claim cannot stand based only on that "evidence". When we look at the history of Wyoming, or even the history of the United States, we are well aware of how homosexuals have been viewed and treated in the past. Not only was their persecution unconstitutional, they were hounded by the religious establishment as perversions of humanity that were destined for hell and the sooner the better. We also know that most likely how religion has chosen to define words has greatly influenced how laws are made or, at the very least, written. Our forefathers and constitution writers defined marriage in such as way as to exclude and discriminate against and deem unequal in the eyes of the law a certain group of the human race. They also created law that denied them their political rights and privileges and, until now, that definition was never called into question.
We are all aware that homosexuality has come a long way since Wyoming's constitution was written. All though those that do not accept homosexuality as a normal human feeling and trait still abound and are just as busy today trying to send these "perversions of humanity" to hell as in the past, by and large Wyoming residents have accepted that homosexuals do exist and do deserve the same rights and privileges that heterosexuals enjoy. Unfortunately, residents of Wyoming apparently have no say in whether House bill 74 will become law or not.
Here is what I propose to those in our legislature that are so against allowing homosexuals the right to marry, or at the very least to have their marriage recognized in this state upon becoming residents (if they ever choose to subject themselves to that discriminatory proposed law); why not use that word we invented, "redefine", to change what the accepted definition of marrieage means into something different. Why don't you exercise this power and redefine what marriage means in the state of Wyoming to include all those who wish to find comfort in the legalized and state recognized sanctity of their union? Why is it so important to you that the definition of marriage remains that of "one man and one woman" when you are well aware that not every couple consists of that gender binary?
Our constitution declares that NO citizen of this state will be subject to unfair and discriminatory laws and will not be made to feel unequal in the eyes of the law based on race, color, or sex. House Bill 74 is an oxymoron in this regard. By continuing to define marriage in such a way as to legalize and recognize only those marriages you deem valid and acceptable you are not only diminishing and reducing the rights of those that do not conform to your "one man one woman" pair, you are declaring their relationship and desire for commitment as irrelevant and illegal; even those that were performed and legalized in other states.
To add insult to injury, Gov. Matt Mead has openly declared that he is "against gay marriage" which means that the highest elected official of this so called Equality State, obviously does not see the citizens that elected him into that illustrious post as equal in his own eyes. How is it possible he holds the position that he does then? How can we feel assured that he has our, this includes ALL citizens of Wyoming, best interests in mind when he openly declares that he does not?
You do not have to be accepting of gay marriage even while you create law that assures homosexuals equal rights under that law. Gov. Mead's personal feelings towards gay marriage is not only irrelevant when considering this House bill 74 but also crosses the line into invading ones personal lives to the point of excluding them from living a free and full filling one that entitles them to all the rights and privileges our constitution assumingly gives them. If he and other elected representatives can insist on one singular definition of one specific word despite the overwhelming discrimination to a percentage of our population because of it, and despite the fact that we can and do redefine words as the culture surrounding that word changes and flows in a different direction, and despite the fact that he and other elected officials were elected to specifically uphold the rights and privileges of every citizen on this state, they are still arrogantly assuming they and they alone have the power to declare what marriage is...and more importantly what it is not.
As citizens of this Equality State that is fast becoming anything but, it is imperative that we strongly protest this Bill 74 before it becomes a fact because, while this particular bill may not affect those of us that are not gay, the next one might. If we don't unite as citizens and defend the rights of all Wyoming residents how can we cry foul when our own rights are summarily stripped away by those who obviously do not have our collective best interests at heart?