Young Voices

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Pilot-Tribune's Young Voices brings you opinions from local student writers each week. Today, BVU student Ian LaForge reflects on bans of same-sex marriage.

We can elect a minority president, but we're not ready to accept two women or two men in love...

On election day Tuesday, this nation saw an incredible change, a shift in the standard paradigm in the mindset of our nation's people. In electing our country's first minority president, America appears to be overcoming the bigotry that has tarnished its image since its inception.

Crowds erupted into violent explosions of victory all over the country when it was announced Barack Obama had won the election. But as the world cheered, my heart sank lower and lower as I refreshed CNN.com throughout the night.

That Tuesday night, I sat in incredible sorrow as I saw the populations of three states vote to amend their constitutions to prohibit the marriage of same-sex couples. I tried to be happy and proud of this country for coming so far in electing an African-American president, but watching these votes across the country, it seemed all a sham.

There seemed to be so much hope brought forward and spoken of in this election by our newly-elected President, it finally seemed like we were progressing into a society where everyone is treated more equal than they ever had before. Traditionally red states turned blue for the first time in many, many elections, representing a shift into more liberal ideals. I was hoping one of them would be acceptance of those who may be just a little bit different.

It turns out I may have misplaced my faith.

I was not terribly surprised to hear Florida and Arizona had banned same-sex marriage. The two are some of the most traditionally conservative states we have. The funny thing is Florida changed its color this election, but apparently not its misplaced, traditional values.

The huge shocker is California. Home of Hollywood, the "liberal media," San Francisco (the city with the highest population of homosexual people in the US), the first openly-gay man elected to major political office, and bastion of socially liberal life for as far back as I can remember, banned gay marriage as well. When the one state you would never expect to do such a thing crumbles underneath the weight of oppressive ideals, one tends to lose hope. I personally can't help but feel demoralized seeing the one state I thought I would always feel welcome in all of a sudden become hostile, as though I have been personally slapped in the face. The real kicker is the state supreme court had legalized same-sex marriages only months before. Having the carpet pulled from underneath you would be better, I think.

I feel as though the past hundred years have been in vain. We should not be denying rights to people, we should be opening them and extending them to all who have yet to have them. What is it that separates sexual orientation from race that is preventing us, as a culture, from moving on and worrying about something that might actually matter?

Until that question can be answered and the problem solved, I don't think I can consider Obama's election to be a win for equality. We have a long way to go before I could ever say that.