The defining political issue for our generation has been–more than anything–gay marriage. Global warming, to a lesser extent, has made its way into the hearts and minds of young activists, as have abortion issues and education reform–but we have not embraced any of these in the way that we’ve embraced gay rights. Through the outpouring of facebook statuses and tweets in support of the cause, through the Gay-Straight Alliance groups sprouting up around the country, through the unifying influence of a staunchly pro-LGBT pop-culture zeitgeist, we engender and strengthen our support for the right of any two people that love each other to enter into a union.
How wonderful last Friday was for us, then. To be in a state that recognized the issue and was as willing as we were to stand up for the rights of individual people to define their definition of marriage was glorious indeed. Our House of Delegates gave us hope and inspiration.
It’s fantastic, really, that this is the one true issue that young people can rally around. Sure, there are some detractors–and there always will be–but even many young people who self-identify as Republicans are willing to wave the rainbow flag. Why? It’s simple. Nothing could be more appealing to teenagers than forbidden love. Our hormones are running high and marriage and romance have been put on a pedestal; sex is prized to the umpteenth degree. Why would we want this opportunity–love and marriage and all the things we fantasize about–to be denied to our peers of a different orientation?
But it’s more than simply sticking up for forbidden love. We are, arguably, the first generation that has been hyper-aware of the problem. Of course civil rights movements have been going on for decades to highlight the rights of the LGBT community, but social media has made it more possible for activist organizations to form, for LGBT-rights champions such as Lady Gaga to spread their messages, and, more importantly, to spread the horrible news about the rash of suicides that unified and strengthened the gay-rights community.
And this is what’s really made our generation so strong in support of LGBT causes–as I said, pro-gay organizations and sentiment have been pervasive for decades. But the dark side of anti-gay sentiment has come to light glaringly for us with the rash of suicides due to homosexuality-induced bullying that launched, among other things, the “it gets better” project. Our generation has unilaterally taken a stand against anti-homosexual hate speech, rejecting and squelching derogatory terms for LGBT people, and fighting back against Rick Santorum and his Falwellian cronies on the right with our vast internet networks.
The passage of this gay marriage bill is a positive reminder for young people, not only that equality will always be a central virtue, but that our activism and efforts pay off. Amidst complaints that our generation is too apolitical, we have taken a refreshingly strong and activist position on this issue, and I can only hope that our successes here propel us to activism in other spheres.
So I’d like to thank the House of Delegates on behalf of the youth of Maryland. What you did was brave, it was right, it was accepting, it was beautiful. We applaud you.
It’s great to be part of a generation that is so dedicated to equality. I’m glad the older generation recognizes it too.
I want to extend a special kudos to delegate Bob Costa of South County, who represents the area in which I live. Having looked at Mr. Costa’s voting record, he and I agree on few things–but he took a courageous and principled stand on gay marriage, in both committee and full session, saying that even though he had personal and religious issues with gay marriage, it wasn’t the government’s place to be preaching religious doctrine, and that he had been elected to serve the needs of all his constituents and not to pick fights about his personal ideology. That is brave, principled, and forward-thinking politics–and it is a beacon to all young people, a representation of what a leader should be and do. So, Delegate Costa, my warmest thanks to you. If for some reason you find yourself with a bigoted primary opponent next cycle, you can count on my support.
Whether you agree with gay marriage or not, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with efforts to curb the anti-gay (or any other kind of) bullying that has led to numerous suicides and even murders across America. Too many of these have already happened, and I would hate for another one to occur, much less one in our great county. The It Gets Better Project is dedicated to helping kids in need and spreading awareness about the problem.
Thanks for reading. It’s days like these that make me proud to be a Marylander.
- Gay Rights Advocates: Marriage Equality In New Jersey Will Take Time (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- How Republicans Changed Me from Independent to Democrat Part One: Gay Rights (4ddad.wordpress.com)
- New Jersey Gay Marriage Bill Lands On Chris Christie’s Desk, Governor Promises “Swift Veto” (inquisitr.com)