In a bizarre and hilarious coincidence, there is actually a legislator in the Indiana State House of Representatives named Charlie Brown.
This post is not about him. Rather, it is about the Charlie Brown who most of us know. The one in the comic strip Peanuts, drawn by Charles Schulz. I’m going to explain the pathetic marriage equality situation in my home state of Indiana, using Charlie Brown. Because why not?
So – marriage equality in Indiana. This is, unfortunately, not one of the better states. A statute bans marriage equality and there’s been a push to add a constitutional amendment banning it as well. (Plus, queer people in Indiana have no legal protection when it comes to jobs, school, and hate crimes. Fun!) Happily, an appeal was filed early this year.
Naturally, the local newspapers are all over this. A few weeks ago, the one we subscribe to even discussed the topic on their front page. I nearly choked on my breakfast from excitement – the words “same-sex marriage” and “Indiana” in the same sentence, as a huge header, as front-page news! Maybe they’d legalized it overnight. Or maybe I just hadn’t been paying attention. Or something.
But no. It just described the current fight… and a reason that marriage equality should be legalized. And that reason made me almost more frustrated than the lack of marriage equality does.
Indiana’s economy would grow by nearly $40 million over three years and the state would reap an extra $2.7 million in sales tax revenue if marriage between same-sex couples was legalized, a new study found…
Caterers, banquet halls, florists, bakers, photographers and other direct wedding goods and services providers would do an extra $30.9 million in sales, assuming a $5,577 total cost per wedding. Hotels and other hospitality and tourism-related businesses would take in an additional $8.2 million from an estimated 88,592 out-of-state guests coming to Indiana to attend weddings.
I’m sure that the author of that article (and those who support marriage equality for economic reasons) have good intentions, but all I can think of is a scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas.
In it, Charlie Brown is moping about. No one knows what Christmas is all about! Maybe Snoopy does. But then the dog hands him a flyer that reads, “Find the true meaning of Christmas.” It goes on to say:
Win MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!
The gist of the article, right there. And my reaction was similar to Charlie Brown’s – “Good grief!” To paraphrase him, the true meaning of equality is not money, money, money.
It may be true that marriage equality would boost Indiana’s economy. In fact, it almost certainly would. I don’t know much (anything, really) about economics and I’m not looking forward to studying it next year for social studies, but it’s not difficult even for someone like me to see that weddings cost money and more weddings equal more money.
However, “it will help the economy!” shouldn’t be given as a reason for supporting marriage equality.
The real reason for marriage equality? Is equality. We’re not all the same, and we shouldn’t pretend that we are, but we are all equal. It’s time to start treating people fairly.
I’m annoyed that the article quoted above was even written at all, because why should we have to pull out all these reasons – the economy, or that marriage equality will make the children of LGBTQ+ parents feel more accepted, or whatever – just to ensure that everyone gets their basic human rights? You know, things that should be A GIVEN?
How much justification should be needed, really? Isn’t it messed up how a person who’s on the fence about marriage equality would have their opinion swayed by promises of MONEY MONEY MONEY but not by the simple statement of “everyone is equal and needs to be treated as such”? Seriously, people.
Hey, money is cool. I get that. You can buy nice things with money. You can buy a lot of books with money. I’m not arguing against money so I don’t want it to seem like I am. I just think that its use as a justification here is unnecessary.
I think a more prudent approach to this situation is to ask, “What groups do not currently have all of their civil rights, and what should we do about that?” rather than, “How much money can we make?!” Get your priorities in order. Human happiness above dollar bills.
Otherwise, it just doesn’t seem as if these supporters actually care about LGBTQ+ rights for the sake of LGBTQ+ people. I suppose they’re trying to do the right thing, to be allies, but it still feels disappointing.
There are many reasons to support marriage equality (and other LGBTQ+ rights): Compassion. Greater acceptance. The ability to have one’s relationship recognized as just as normal / valid / whatever as anyone else’s. Those are all very meaningful, deep reasons, so why are we focusing on something as trivial as money? It’s similar to Charlie Brown’s thought: Sure, you can make money at Christmas but that’s not the point of the holiday. You can support a thing for the sake of the thing itself and not necessary for all that goes along with it.
The focus of marriage equality rhetoric should be its effects on the lives of LGBTQ+ people, not on the potential benefits to allies (and those who don’t support the LGBTQ+ community). Otherwise, it seems like far too many allies support queer rights only if they themselves also benefit. It’s not bad if they also benefit, but I think that’s a shallow reason to support it. It’s OK to be in favor of something that neither helps nor harms you, but will help others.
Come on, people. This is just tiring. It’s tiring that we need justification after justification and a simple “we’re citizens too, that’s why” doesn’t cut it. It’s tiring when people evidently won’t like a thing unless there’s something in it for them. It’s tiring that this is even still an issue in the year two thousand and fourteen. Shouldn’t we be better than this by now?
P.S. I’m exasperated with this whole business. Time to chill. Time to listen to music from A Charlie Brown Christmas.