The BBC published an article this week about gays who are against gay marriage. On the one hand, this might seem like a non-story, as there are plenty of straight people who aren't interested in getting married, and no one makes a big deal about that. On the other hand, however, in some ways one can compare gays who are against gay marriage to other minorities who might be against equal rights or may even been prejudiced against their own kind (the Jewish anti-Semite, for example, or women who don't want women to have full control over their own bodies).
And from this light, gays who are against gay marriage start to look rather bizarre indeed.
Some of the reasons such people offer include not wanting to "ape" heterosexuals, not intending to reproduce, and feeling as though there are more important things to worry about or fight for. If each of these arguments is looked at in turn, it becomes clear how wrong the gays against gay marriage actually are.
First of all, heterosexuals shouldn't have a monopoly on marriage; if there were equal marriage rights for all, nobody would be concerned about "aping" any particular group. Besides that, weddings - like the people having them - come in all shapes and styles, and each couple should be able to create a format that works for them. Couples can write their own vows, pick their own outfits, choose their own music, and so on; there is no one wedding format that works for everyone or that should be forced on all couples.
Not all straight couples have the same style of wedding anyway, so what exactly is it that's being aped? The very idea of marriage? Well, since marriage exists as an institution, those who want it should be allowed to have it; those that don't can simply continue to live together (or separately) without it. That's easy enough. Maybe one day marriage won't exist at all, but we're not there yet.
As for procreation, marriage isn't just about producing or raising children. Some straight couples are married without kids and no one says they are any less married for that. Gay couples can have children and if they do, they should be entitled to legal protections for their families. Just because some gay couples don't intend to have children doesn't mean all gay couples should be without essential legal rights. It's as though some women a hundred years ago were saying that since they don't feel like voting or attending university, women shouldn't have the right to do so; it simply doesn't make sense.
And as for there being more important things to worry about, sure, we should all be worried about poverty, hunger, climate change, access to health care and education, and so on. But equal rights are important too. Equal rights are actually the basis of our ability to live happy, successful lives, lives that then enable us to fight for health care or to ensure that our fellow humans have food. If we don't expect to be treated with respect and dignity, how can we help others be treated that way? How we can make sure that our voices are heard?
Marriage isn't the most important issue in the world today, but it is indicative of how a particular group is regarded and handled by society. Giving everyone the right to get married shows that we believe in basic equality. And from that stems all sorts of other important beliefs and behaviours.
Gays who are against gay marriage might seem like an innocuous group, but in fact they could do damage to the general fight for equal citizenship. If they don't want to get married, that's absolutely fine - after all, having freedom of choice means that we give people options and respect their decisions - but they shouldn't argue against or stand in the way of gay-marriage-supporting gays.
Equal rights means just that: equal opportunities for everyone, even if you wouldn't want those opportunities yourself.