Seven weeks ago, on the greatest night of my entire life, I asked the woman I love with every ounce of my being to marry me. The night took months of preparation, and in a moment of absolute perfection, she said “Yes.”
The next morning the gravity of it all began to hit me, and I just couldn’t stop smiling. It seemed like everyone around us wanted to celebrate our love for one another. And as happy as I was, strangely, I found myself thinking about gay rights.
Over the past decade of my life many of those I’ve become closest to have been in love with members of the same sex. Some hid this for years, others came out. I never thought of their sexuality as their most identifying factor. But the morning after getting engaged, as I pictured each of my friends on the happiest day of their future lives, I realized that those who are gay cannot experience what I’d experienced the night before in many parts of our nation. And suddenly, the gay marriage debate became personal.
In the course of US history there have been many shifts in civil liberties that were initially met with great confrontation. But the commitment to equality for all is what should serve as our guiding compass in this debate. We should strive to create a society which says “Your love is celebrated” to every man and woman, regardless of the partner they choose.
The debate over gay marriage won’t go away anytime soon. Neither will the love shared between those members of our society who are discriminated against because of our current system. What will shift is the role of the bystander in this debate- the 20-something straight guy. No longer can we be silent because the rules don’t impact us directly. It’s time for us to stand up in support of our friends, our family members, our colleagues and the future society we seek to create.
As Samuel Johnson said, “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.” It’s time for us to act that way.