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Why gay marriage matters to me

By Nikki Dowling, The Frisky
Just in case she ever wants to marry, columnist is willing to fight for same-sex marriage rights.
Just in case she ever wants to marry, columnist is willing to fight for same-sex marriage rights.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Columnist Nikki Dowling is not sure she ever will want to get married
  • Even before deciding she was a lesbian, she has been in favor of gay marriage
  • But her current and former girlfriends say there are better things to worry about
  • But Dowling says barring gays right to marry is denying equal rights
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(The Frisky) -- I am currently seeing this really great girl. She's smart, sweet and really fun to be around. We agree on a lot of things. We both hate the death penalty, love pizza and enjoy hanging out -- sometimes illegally -- on rooftops overlooking New York City.

There is one thing, however, that we just can't see eye-to-eye on. It's not what to do on Saturday or where to have dinner or which baseball team is the best. Surprisingly, the issue that we butt heads on the hardest is gay marriage.

I am totally in favor of same-sex marriage. I always have been, even when I identified as straight. I think it's a really important issue and I'm outraged that it isn't allowed in 45 out of 50 states in this country.

When the New York State Senate voted down gay marriage by a vote of 38-to-24 in December, I wanted to cry.

Recently, the assembly in Mexico City said gay and lesbian couples can get married and adopt children. When I found out that the vote -- 39-to-20 -- was widely in favor of these equal rights I called my girlfriend and started screaming about leaving the United States.

She laughed, sighed and changed the subject. Why? She doesn't want to get married and thinks there are more important things to worry about.

I could dismiss this as a weird quirk of hers if she weren't one of the many gay chicks I know who doesn't give a crap about this issue. The last girl I dated once voted for a candidate who was completely against same-sex marriage. When I pointed this out to her, she said something like, "Who cares? We have bigger fish to fry."

I agree. There are more important issues, but that doesn't mean we need to ignore this one. Gay rights, like the civil rights and women's suffrage movements, is a struggle for equality that is never going to go anywhere if we don't get behind it.

Martin Luther King Jr. was outraged when people told him that he just had to be patient about segregation. Similarly, I am irate that, in a society that claims to be so darn fair, I cannot marry someone I love because the person I love happens to be female.

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I am not comparing the gay rights movement to the inequality that African-Americans faced, and still face today. We are not being herded to the back of the bus or drinking out of separate water fountains. However, recently an openly gay man in Queens was beaten to within inches of his life by a bunch of thugs who yelled "f**got" over and over while they tried to kill him. Doesn't sound so dissimilar now, does it?

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I know a lot of very loving gay couples who are extremely eager to get married. Some say pretending is the closest they'll ever get. To be honest, I don't know if I'll ever want to say, "I do." But it's not all about what I want.

This is about an entire group of people -- 10 percent of the population of the United States -- having the right to make whatever choice is best for them. It's about hospital visitation rights and end-of-life care. It's about being able to adopt a child with the person you love.

It's about equality.

Maybe it doesn't seem like such a big deal that same sex couples can't get hitched. But it's a big deal when people become targets for admitting they are gay. It's a big deal that this minority group is treated unequally by the law. It's a big deal that I can't walk down the street holding my girlfriend's hand without garnering shocked stares or looks of disgust.

If these things seem unrelated, well, they aren't. The prejudice, the unfair treatment, the misunderstanding - these are all just pieces of a big, un-assembled puzzle. It's a puzzle that can't be put together in one swoop -- it has to happen piece by piece. But we have to start somewhere. I think gay marriage is the perfect place to begin.

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