By the next time this bi-weekly column publishes, all of the excitement of another election year will be over. Leaders will be elected and reelected and decisions will be made on issues ranging from sales tax hikes to who may and may not marry. Most of my family and friends can’t wait for the end of this cycle of endless debates and ads from PACs and from the candidates themselves. Personally, I love this process. I have been mesmerized by the news and the commentaries on politics since I carried my first briefcase to school in the third grade.
It’s no secret to those who know me that I can live on a steady diet of cable news shows and blogs about our national debt, women’s health issues and the rights of persons in the LGBTQ community. My coworkers often commented that they could always depend on the radio in my office to be tuned into some form of talk radio show ranging from NPR to Sean Hannity. While the Big Bird vs. Romney debate continues to garner the attention of the late night talk shows, there are also other important decisions on the ballots this year. The issue of same-sex marriage will appear on ballots in four states in November. When voters in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington head to the polls they will be faced with the question of marriage equality for all people.
At this point, I feel like I am a seasoned veteran of this debate. I lived in Southern California for the 2008 Prop 8 initiative and earlier this year, I was in the Raleigh-Durham area when Amendment 1 was the hot topic for primary voters in North Carolina. As far as the Carolinas are concerned, both states now have the dubious honor of adding first amendments to their constitutions for the purpose of denying rights to other people. To be fair, the Carolinas are not alone in this pursuit. Whether you call it an amendment, an initiative or a proposition, the number of states to adopt this philosophy is now at 39.
I believe the foremost reason for this trend in the ban on marriage for same-sex couples is simply fear. I make it a practice to watch news and commentaries from varied sources and not just from those whose opinions may align with my own. Supporters of the archaic ideas on “traditional marriage” use arguments that range from comparisons to Hitler to those who stand on divine authority. Most recently, Carol Costello of CNN ended an interview with Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association for espousing these exact ideas. The curious fact about this interview is that the original purpose was not to address any LGBTQ issues but rather to discuss the annual “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” where school children around the country are encouraged to hang out with someone outside of their normal clique to promote understanding and diversity. Those two words in an election year are almost certain to send any conservative off on a crusade.
There seems to be very little interest in the conservative movement to engage in any meaningful dialogue with those whose opinions on same-sex marriage differ from the current party platform. It’s much simpler to find a group with a minority voice and to use them as a distraction. This can be an effective rallying point for the neo-conservatives who effectively divide all political discussions into the distinct categories of “us” and “them.” The argument for the preservation of the traditional family unit has been used well past its prime but it continues to work well from the anchor desk to the pulpit.
I wonder how many voters in the upcoming elections will have any knowledge or understanding of the couples and families that these measures will impact? I have attended weddings and the blessings of same-sex civil unions in churches, synagogues and even city halls and there has been no decline into anarchy or no destruction of any belief systems. I have spent the holidays and other special occasions with families composed of two moms or two dads and children that are adopted and biological and I have not seen anything that I didn’t see growing up in a traditional family unit. Quite the opposite, I often I have seen families that had to overcome many obstacles in order to exist as a unit.
As voters move forward this year in the states considering what to do about marriage and who should be allowed to enjoy its benefits, I hope they will take the opportunity to consider the human factor in this equation. It may require tuning in to a different news source or using the Internet for something other than managing crops and animals in Farmville. Fact checking the people who are speaking to you every night can be very enlightening. It’s more satisfying to vote from a position of understanding than from a position of fear.
OUT & ABOUT
Friday, Oct. 26 – Club Traxx in downtown Myrtle Beach will host an All Male Revue with cash prizes of $300 beginning at 10 p.m. Friday. Club Traxx also offers Monday Night Karaoke and free pool along with drink specials. For a complete calendar of events, check out the Web site at www.clubtraxx-myrtlebeach.com.
Wednesday, Oct. 31 – Club Pulse in Myrtle Beach will host a Halloween Party along with a Costume Contest on Halloween night. Judging for the contest will be at 11:30 p.m. Cash and prizes totalling more than $450 will be awarded for the best costumes. Find additional information on upcoming events, visit www.clubpulsemb.com.
Friday, Nov. 2 – First Friday Happy Hour will meet at Moe Moon’s on the Boardwalk from 5:30–7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2. Moe Moon’s is at 900 N. Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach. This is an excellent opportunity to wrap up the work week by meeting with LGBTQ people from the area. If you’re new to the area or if you have been here for awhile and want to connect with people in a relaxed environment, this is an excellent event to add to your calendar. For more information, please visit www.firstfridayhappyhour.org.