To the editor:
Equal rights for lesbians and gay men may be one of the greatest civil rights battles of the 21st century. Recent activism and initiatives to formalize same-sex marriages have brought unprecedented public attention to the concerns of the gay population (Avery, Chase, Johansson & Litvak, 2007). The legal recognition of same-sex relationships, particularly through marriage, is surrounded by significant controversy reported on almost daily, as marriage possesses considerable cultural, social, and practical value which other relationship options do not offer (Woodford, 2010).
The ability to form close relationships with others is a crucial component of life span development. Marriage is the legal and consensual joining of two persons of the opposite sex and most recently of the same-sex as well. Marriage and family were once seen as both historically and contemporarily interconnected as marriage has been the gateway to family. Western society's understanding of marriage has come under scrutiny in recent years with the broadening of legal protection and benefits to include same-sex partners (Marriage and Domestic Partnerships, 2012).
In the United States, marriage is indeed privileged. Among the many benefits available to married people are coverage under a spouse's insurance and the ability to inherit his or her social security benefits, pension, and personal assets without taxation. Married people are able to visit spouses in the hospital and make health care decisions when their spouses are rendered incapable. Husbands and wives cannot be forced to testify against each other in court and may pursue litigation in their wrongful deaths. In addition there are numerous social benefits attached to marriage (LaSala, 2007).
Minnesota is one of several states currently visiting the possibility of legalizing same-sex marriage. The ballot question this November will be provided to voters as follows: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?" The proposed amendment would add a section to Article XIII of the Minnesota Constitution.
Much like any other civil rights battle, same-sex marriage will be legalized; it is now a matter of when and how long the political fight will proceed. It is now up to the citizens to vote on the issue on the November 2012 ballot. Allowing gay and lesbian couples the same rights as heterosexual couples would finally overrule the incredulous feelings these individuals have experienced with repeated invalidation and inequality as human beings. Sexual orientation is one aspect in the makeup of an individual. Human dignity signifies that a person has an innate right to respect and ethical treatment. It is up to us, as citizens, to make our voices and votes heard in supporting equality of all people and their relationships to be recognized by the state as valid, legal, and most importantly, equal.