Same Sex Marriage: Should We or Shouldn’t We?

Barack Obama became the first sitting United States President to publicly state his support for same sex marriage, a pronouncement with very historic implications.

I’m writing about it because it’s an issue I’m interested in. I am because it’s about human rights. I’ve long believed in upholding human rights and improving rights of women, children, persons with disabilities and now people with different perspectives on sexuality.

On one hand my Catholic faith tells me that a marriage should only be between a man and a woman. On the other hand my mind tells me that people have basic human rights and that one of them should be the ability to choose whom he/she lives with and forms a partnership with.

I believe in the separation of Church and State. I believe that the Church needs to tend to its flock while the State needs to look after the welfare of its constituents regardless of race, gender, age, disability or in this case sexual preference.

I live in the Philippines, a pre-dominantly Catholic country. It is however not entirely Catholic. There is still a percentage that is not. Should the policies of our government be biased towards a certain religion? Or should it be favorable to all. By that I mean, should it be favorable to upholding basic human rights that spans across all religions, race, gender, etc.

It has been debated that same sex couples can just enter into a civil union instead of a marriage. In the context of the United States though there is a fundamental difference between both. One of the major difference is that a civil union only affords the couple of certain state rights and protection and not federal. This means that their union is not recognized in other states where civil unions are not legal. It also means that while civil union couples can file joint state income taxes they need to file several for federal income taxes. There’s a lot more implications that a civil union has versus a marriage.

In my opinion I think that same sex couples should receive the same benefits that heterosexual couples receive, at least when it comes to government and civil benefits. Religious benefits I am inclined to leave to each religion. I believe that a person should have the right to choose whom he/she spends the rest of their lives with and that their respective partners be accorded with the same rights as such.

It was quite timely. I watched a TV show earlier today. One of the scenes depicted a man being rushed to the emergency room. Accompanying him was his same sex partner. The man was suffering from congestive heart failure and was about to be placed on a ventilator. His same sex partner told the doctor that his partner did not want that. The doctor could not follow this because the patient had no advanced directive and that the same sex partner did not have the same rights as heterosexual couple.

This scenario is just one of many instances wherein if the couple was given legal rights would have been really helpful and beneficial to all. Instead that person had to see his loved one go through suffering just because he had no right to decide on a matter that regular married couples can. Someone who had lived with, loved, cared and sacrificed for his partner could not be afforded that right.

Some might question why I’m writing about this. I’ve written about God, prayer and faith. This goes against what my Catholic faith has taught me. I however think of faith and religion as something very personal. My faith is between God and me. I will follow what I believe to be is right in the context of my religion but I can’t impose it on others. I also believe that don’t judge unless you want to be judged yourself. Whether or not same sex marriage is acceptable in God’s eyes is not for me to say. It is for God to say.

What I do know and believe in is in the supreme commandment. John 13:34 says “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” My interpretation of this is that I should love my brothers and sisters as I love myself. Treat them, as I would want to be treated.

As a person and human being I would like it that all human beings be accorded the same rights, benefits and privileges and this includes the same benefits that heterosexual couples get.

As a society we should be tolerant of people and their choices. For so long as their choices do not inflict harm unto others, I think they should be left to do as they wish. I know several people who are either gay or lesbian. I know them to be good people with good values. They work hard, pay their taxes and they are productive members of society. So why can’t they get the same treatment?

I heard this somewhere once, “I am a Catholic, I do not want my taxes to be spent on things I don’t believe in”. Paying taxes is a civic duty and not a religious duty. The tithe you give to the Church should be spent on what the Church deems appropriate but taxes you pay to the government should be spent for what will be the good of all and not just what you believe in.

I’m interested to see how this all plays out. Whether or not Obama will see a second term, we’ll find out soon. I think this is a defining moment for him. He took a stand on what he believed is right not just based on his belief but what he perceives as the right thing for all his constituents.

What do you guys think? I’d love to hear from you and hear various sides of this issue.

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