Each year I ask my fifth and sixth grade students to zip forward 100 years and, from that vantage point, to look back on our times. I ask them to predict what issue will be the one where, when people in the United States study the history of the early 21st Century, even the children will ask incredulously, “How could they have possibly thought THAT?”
Governor Paterson of New York is not one of my fifth graders, but I think he just gave his answer to the question.
I live in Connecticut, (where, by the way, gay marriage is legal), but I have not followed Governor Paterson closely. I have the sense that he is merely adequate as a leader for a hugely important state that is facing tough times. However, when I saw that he is leading a push for New Yorkers to seriously debate allowing two people of the same gender to get married, he rose two or three notches in my estimation.
It seems patently clear that to exclude two citizens from enjoying the rights and privileges that two OTHER citizens can enjoy is unconstitutional. If two men or two women fall in love and decide they want to spend the rest of their lives together, why should the mere fact that they have the same reproductive parts bar them from partaking in the many advantages married men and women receive at both the state and federal levels?
No church or religious group would have to condone the joining of two men or two women in marriage. Religions have no say over who can be licensed to cut hair, drive a car, operate a restaurant, practice as an electrician, or serve as a doctor. Neither should they have any say over who can marry.
Nationally, the tide is turning. When today’s teens and twenty-somethings are in charge, gay marriage will not even be an issue. It was surprising to see Connecticut and Iowa out ahead of New York, but I am glad to see Governor Paterson stepping up and taking a stand.