TALKING TO POLITICIANS: I too am American

Guest Blogger: Ron Buckmire

I support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples for one simple reason: it’s the right thing to do. I believe in fairness, equality and reciprocity and would like to believe that a majority of Americans share these values. As a college professor, I believe that Americans don’t understand that if they believe in the values of fairness, equality and reciprocity then they should also support the freedom to marry.

It is unfair to deny the rights and responsibilities that are attached to a civil marriage license to same-sex couples. Opposite sex couples could meet one day and get married the very next day and have access to over 1,100 state and federal laws and regulations, including the right to sponsor a foreign partner for permanent immigrant status, joint tax filing and the right to refuse to testify against a spouse in court, just to mention a few.

There is inequality in how same-sex relationships are recognized by the state and federal governments as well as the society at large. I have been in a relationship with another man since 1991, shared a household since 1994, registered as domestic partners since 1999 but the federal government and most businesses consider me “single.” Compare this to the full recognition that all levels of government will provide a marriage between heterosexual couples who have known each other for a mere hours before getting married in Las Vegas (c.f. Britney Spears). This unequal treatment is a direct denigration of the love and commitment of same-sex couples who manage to persevere despite not receiving government or societal support.

The refusal of the majority of Americans to treat same-sex couples how they themselves would like to be treated is a violation of the Golden Rule of Reciprocity. It reveals just how differently most Americans view same-sex couples from themselves. The reason Americans refuse to apply reciprocity to same-sex couples is that they have incomplete, inaccurate and frankly imaginary information about gay people like myself. No, one’s sexual orientation is not a choice. (When did you choose yours? Were you considering a different one?) No, not all same-sex couples are White and/or rich. The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School, a think tank on sexual orientation law and public policy, has analyzed official U.S. Census data and calculated that same-sex couples throughout the United States have lower incomes and are more racially diverse than their straight counterparts.

I hope that by educating Americans on precisely how denying the freedom to marry violates our shared values of fairness, equality and reciprocity will hasten the day when American principles will match American law.



Professor Ron Buckmire is a devoted partner, college professor and activist in the movement for equalty for gay couples and singles. He lives in Southern California and publishes The Mad Professah Lectures.