Feature “I don’t”

Not everyone in the LGBT community is sold on the idea of same-sex marriage

“President Bush said he’s troubled by all the gay weddings going on in San Francisco. Then again, he also said he’s troubled by Bert and Ernie’s relationship in Sesame Street.”

– Conan O’Brien

Although President George W. Bush’s stance on gay marriage has provided consistent fodder for late-night television ribbing, the controversy takes on a more serious tone for many gays and lesbians. As same-sex marriage takes hits around the country in the courts, legislatures, and state constitutions, an oft-overlooked viewpoint has surfaced: Some gays and lesbians think marriage is not a right they need.

“I think the privilege would be misused just because of the nature of lesbian relationships,” says Jayme Ward, a 22-year-old who has been involved in same-sex relationships. “I know so many people that would have been married and divorced so quickly just because they’d rush into it. If it ever did pass, I’d hope people wouldn’t rush out and get married just because they could.”

She says many lesbian couples would get so caught up in the excitement of being afforded new rights that they would neglect the seriousness of commitment.

Not everyone in the LGBT community is sold on the idea of same-sex marriage

Liz Beyer, 23, agrees that same-sex marriage could lead to excessive marriage and divorce — as do heterosexual unions. “Girls get attached so incredibly fast and think they fall in love,” said Beyer. “They’re more emotional and in-tune with their feelings; when you have two girls in a relationship it’s doubled. A lot of the time the guy sets the pace in heterosexual relationships, but with lesbians you don’t have that. Most of the time nobody is setting the pace and you’re both rushing into it.”

Nevertheless, Beyer said that same-sex marriage should not be illegal and that one day she would like to marry, given the right person and situation. “This isn’t the kind of subject that you can say yes or no, for or against,” said Beyer. “If you give me a situation and tell me about the circumstances, I’d tell you my opinion based on that. Just because I say it will be abused doesn’t mean I don’t want the option.”

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In November, Texas voters by a 76-24 percent margin approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the 19th state to take that step. Texas law didn’t permit same-sex marriages, but that prohibition is now embedded in the state constitution.

However, neither Ward nor Beyer voted in November. “Honestly, I probably would have voted against the ban just to have that option,” says Beyer. “I think it will pass one day, but right now it’s too much for it to pass in a state like Texas.”

Andy Figueroa, who is in a lesbian relationship, disagrees that gay marriage would be abused. “Just because we’d have that right doesn’t mean we’d abuse that right,” said Figueroa. “I consider that internalized oppression, and unlearning that oppression is the key. After seeing relationships fail multiple times, you sometimes begin to believe that’s the norm, when in fact it doesn’t have to be.”

Figueroa says many people in their early 20s aren’t ready to commit to one partner, and that at 28, she is now better-equipped to more thoughtfully evaluate her relationships.

Kirstin Simmons, 22, echos Figueroa’s sentiments. Simmons voted against the ban on the November ballot. She adds that couples should be allowed to make legal decisions concerning health care and insurance with their partners, regardless of sexuality. “People say the divorce rate would be high with same-sex marriage, but look at heterosexual relationships,” said Simmons. “People get married and divorced all the time; just because you’re in a lesbian relationship doesn’t make you more prone to it.”

By Nicole Chavez

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