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Gay rights progress too slowly

Full disclosure: I’m gay, and I didn’t choose to be this way. I didn’t wake up one morning and say to myself, “I think today’s the day. I think today would be a good day to begin a life full of bullying at school, workplace discrimination, bans on marriage and persecution from the general populace.”

I am gay, and I am saddened and angered by the state of gay rights in America.

On Feb. 1, the Iowa House of Representatives approved an amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would ban same-sex marriages, effectively repealing the 2009 state Supreme Court decision that legalized such marriages. The bill is now working its way through the state Senate. If it passes in the Iowa Senate, the bill will go up for popular vote.

According to a Feb. 1 article in The Iowa Independent, GOP Rep. Rich Anderson defended the bill, stating that he opposes same-sex marriage on the basis of “responsible procreation” and that legalized same-sex marriage would lead to legalized polygamy and incest.

“If we remove the gender requirement for marriage, there is no rational basis to define the number,” he said. “So we open up the possibility of the constitutional recognition of polygamous relationships. That’s a slippery slope. And I don’t know where the logic is to draw the line. We wouldn’t recognize incestuous relationships between two consenting adult brothers and sisters…We draw lines. We define marriage.”

Assuming you need not be told why “responsible procreation” is not a valid reason to oppose same-sex marriage, I’ll move on to the logical fallacy of the “slippery slope.” As Bill Maher put it, giving women the right to vote didn’t lead to hamsters voting. If you want to “draw lines,” why don’t you draw the line with “two consenting adults can marry one another if they are of age and not of close blood relations”? That’s a line.

Has England legalized polygamy? Has Mexico legalized bestiality? Has Canada legalized incest? No. All of these places have legalized same-sex marriage, and there is no precedent 8212; anywhere 8212; for gay marriage leading to any of these things.

Another concern with ballot initiatives for gay rights is that gays are minorities, and minorities are protected by the U.S. Constitution. One of the reasons we have a court system is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. Minority rights should never be put up to a majority vote.

I fully support Democratic Iowa state Rep. Bruce Hunter, who said, “Here’s the funny thing about rights 8212; they’re not supposed to be voted on.”

Gay rights in America are being treated on a state-by-state basis, which I find offensive because it implies that my rights are flexible. Texas has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but I could go to Massachusetts and get married there. From Massachusetts, I could come back to Texas, where my marriage wouldn’t be recognized, and I would lose all legal rights associated with marriage. Or I could go to New Mexico, for example, where same-sex marriages are not performed, but marriages performed elsewhere are recognized.

Bans on same-sex marriage and other limitations of gay rights hurt millions of people while helping nobody. It makes no difference to you whether I marry a man or a woman, but it solidifies my loving relationship and comes with a lot of legal benefits that heterosexual couples often take for granted.

College is a time to discover who you are and what you are passionate about. As college students, it is our responsibility to use our freedom and our activism to protect the rights of everyone and to prevent discrimination from being written into our constitutions. Someday we will look back at this and wonder why, in the 21st century, the right for people to marry whomever they love was still hotly contested.

The repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was a huge step forward for gay rights, and marriage and employment protection are very slowly but surely spreading across this nation and across the world.

I have a dream where a gay child never has to scrawl a suicide note because his parents and his peers mock and abuse him. I have a dream where I am protected from discrimination at my workplace and can come home every day to someone I can call my husband. I have a dream where we are all equal.

Thomas Hale is a freshman mathematics and chemistry double major from Fort Worth.

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