The most recent poll in the Washington Post on marriage equality must be seen as progress. It shows that people are beginning to understand that the right to civil marriage is one that must be shared by all people. The LGBT community has always fought for this right not as a special privilege but as a basic human right in our civil society.
In talking about marriage equality, I and most other advocates have always premised our arguments on the separation of church and state in our nation. We cannot force our views on a religion that believes marriage can only be between a man and a woman — even when we know that argument often leads to total hypocrisy. It does so when opponents of marriage equality say that marriage is sacred and only for procreation and then approve of marriages, sometimes even a second, third and fourth union for people who are too old to procreate. But be that as it may, I am not for impugning anyone’s legitimate religious beliefs. I just want them to not force their religious beliefs on me.
Civil law must be applied equally if we are to be a nation that respects all people. Gays, lesbians and bisexuals must have all the rights that civil governments grant to everyone and marriage to a same-sex partner is one of those rights. I, for one, would be happy to see everyone get a civil union license and leave the word marriage to religion. But since that is not the case and marriage licenses are given by civil governments, everyone must be treated equally under the law.
So when the people of Maryland answer polling questions and indicate they’re moving toward favoring marriage equality — and are actually in favor of recognizing legal same-sex marriages from other states — it is something to celebrate.
I take strong issue with those like Democratic Maryland Del. Emmett Burns, a Baltimore County pastor and an opponent of same-sex marriage, who said the poll results do not show a change in public opinion and instead reflect that Marylanders are being pressured to accept same-sex marriage.
What I believe is actually happening, and what the poll numbers show, is that opponents of marriage equality, such as Burns, are losing their ability to have their lies about marriage equality believed. People are getting smarter and beginning to realize that civil marriage equality has nothing to do with their church. They understand that the marriages of same-sex couples will have no impact at all on their marriages and that their churches will never be forced to perform a marriage that they feel goes against their beliefs.