On marriage equality: Why it is your responsibility to speak up

Christine Colleran

Saying that our country’s top leaders have a lot on their minds may just be the understatement of the century. Let’s face it, financially we are not in the best shape, and we are having real problems finding a comprehensive or even semi-comprehensive solution to our debt and spending issues. These fiscal problems are what our congressmen/women and president should focus on, concentrating on how to turn our country into one that thrives again.

Average citizens can talk about sequesters and budgets cuts until we are blue in the face, but past electing the officials who make the decisions, we have relatively no influence on the situation.

So, where should we focus then? The answer comes rather easily; we need to focus on social issues we have the power to change, on issues like marriage equality.

For years we citizens of the United States of America have made social issues our responsibility. We have a history of righting civil wrongs, and leading the world by example. I mean, Martin Luther King Jr. was no congressman. He was a clergyman, an activist and a person willing to ensure that society stood behind what was right. We must not forget that to speak up is our duty as citizens, and as human beings. Should we wait for our busy, overworked leaders to make the necessary social changes for us, I fear we will be waiting forever.

Gay rights, specifically marriage equality, should be a no brainer. While that statement may be less than eloquent, it’s undeniable. All citizens in this country are created equally. Not equal in a robotic, undifferentiated way, but rather equal in that we all deserve the chance to enjoy every single right afforded to the American public. It is a notion that is foundational to our identity as the United States of America. If you don’t believe that, then you don’t belong in our great nation. If you do believe that, then there is no way that you can stand by the decision to deny someone basic rights based on who they want to fall asleep next to at night.

However, it is not the duty of the leaders of our country, who hold the future of every citizen in their hands, to be social rights activists. That is our job, the rest of us citizens. It is our duty to demand social change because we are experts on the matter. Most of us can’t claim to know the fiscal answers to our country’s problems, nor how to protect our country and keep it secure. However, we can claim to know how to be a decent human being, because we do it every day. We shake the hands of our fellow citizens, gay or straight, and we know that we all are in the same boat. We are all worried about the financial state of our country, about how we will get through tough times, and about our children and their future.

It’s time we stop waiting for the politicians to get things done for us. They are busy. At the end of the day, we decide the futures of our politicians, and if we all demand social change—demand marriage equality—they will listen or they will leave office. And those men and women do NOT want to leave office.

It is our responsibility to demand social change and equality for the citizens of our country. It is our responsibility to demand marriage equality for all. So speak up or ship out.

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