Gay, lesbian couples deserve equality

The issue has been raised yet again: Should gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry in the state of California?

You can say that gay and lesbian people already have the same rights as heterosexual couples today, but the fact is that marriage is being revoked from LGBT couples every day in this state, and that’s discrimination.

How would like to have your “life partner” pass away and not inherit everything you both worked for? What if your life partner was in the hospital and a nurse told you, “You have no right to visit this patient”? And lastly, what if the law prohibited you from being legally sanctioned as a couple?

The list goes on. Health benefits, spousal support, retirement, tax benefits, family security, social recognition and legal status are all pieces of what’s being taken away from California’s gay and lesbian citizens.

Is that fair? The answer is no, and you can’t say that domestic partnerships are the same when they leave out more than 1,000 rights that straight couples receive when they exchange vows.

As a gay male who has been in a relationship for the past two years, I can say that I am ready to get married. My relationship is no different from that of my neighbors: We walk the dog, go grocery shopping, pay taxes, make dinner and bicker about whose turn it is to wash the dishes.

I’ve grown up in the Central Valley, in Tracy, and I know what it’s like to be harassed, discriminated against and even threatened. I had a teacher tell my friends that “affiliating with Justin Daley is just as sinful as being gay yourself.” I was the advocate behind youth empowerment for the LGBT community, and now, three years later, I will advocate for marriage.

I am no different from your everyday Californian, and because of this I feel I should have the same rights as my friends and loved ones. I know they feel the same for me.

Many ask me, Why the term “marriage”? How about a different word? The answer to these questions is simple: I want the same benefits, rights and social obligations as my heterosexual co-workers and friends, and a word like “domestic partnership” is not accepted by society nor by myself as a substitute for what I feel for my partner.

Will Californians choose to stand on the side of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and veto bills such as AB849, authored by Mark Leno in 2005, which would allow true equality in California; or on the side of the millions of gays and lesbians being denied the right to marry in this state?

Will Californians stand on the side that teaches our children that all are equal in this society and all have an equal chance to succeed in love and happiness, or on the side that tells our children these people are second-class citizens?

Where will you stand?

The state of California cannot tell gay and lesbian people who to love, but right now it’s telling us who we can marry.

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