Reluctant Townie: Gay marriage, coming to a neighborhood near you
Last week, Illinois became the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
To all my gay Illinois peeps out there: Sorry it took so long.
Being the 15th state to legalize gay marriage is kind of like being the guy who discovered "Gangnam Style" in 2013: I'm happy you made it to the party, but you're a little late.
I find it shameful that a law that should be considered common sense for any civilized society in the 20th century still somehow took until a decade into the 21st century to become a reality in this state. We were this close to getting a flying car before same-sex marriage.
Like those who opposed interracial marriage in 1967 after the Supreme Court's ruling on Loving v. Virginia, those who oppose same-sex marriage in 2013 will be remembered as standing on the wrong side of history.
Not that many of them care, I'm sure, nor will they ever believe it for themselves. But it's really never been about whether they will change their minds on the subject (I'm old enough to know that people change their minds the same way college freshmen change their bedsheets — infrequently, and not unless they absolutely have to); the fight for equal rights has always been about providing every American, regardless of race or sexual orientation, the opportunity to experience the heavy, soul-sucking shackles of marriage.
Some backward-leaning straight folks want to horde this particular misery for themselves. I say share and share alike. I'm not going to be able to eat all of this Friday Night "Shark Tank" in pajama pants by myself; why don't you have a bite, my gay brothers and sisters?
I pride myself on being able to entertain two opposing ideas in my head without automatically picking a side, but for the life of me, I've never come across a compelling argument for why same-sex marriage should be illegal. I suspect this is because such an argument doesn't exist.
Almost all of the Illinois House Representatives who spoke out — and voted against — the law to legalize same-sex marriage mentioned "God" or "The Bible" as their main motivation for opposition.
Not sure what God and the Bible have against homosexuals getting married — maybe the Biblical gays booked all the good venues before God and the Bible had a chance — but it's possible that God and the Bible really have nothing against two members of the same sex declaring their love for each other. Maybe it's just been a big misunderstanding.
I try to respect everyone's right to have an opinion and the right to voice that opinion. And to that end, if you think two dudes kissing is grossness times infinity, hey that's your right: Feel free to throw up in your mouth as often as you like.
(In fact, I might respect you more if you just came out and said you thought gay marriage was nasty, instead of hiding behind a couple of obscure Bible quotes.)
However, while I might respect your right to think backward, I don't believe in meeting intolerance halfway. You either tolerate those who are different than you or you don't. There is no middle ground. If you cannot tolerate the idea of same-sex couples tying the knot, the answer is not to outlaw same-sex marriages in hopes that gay dudes will stop kissing each other (they won't), the answer is to avoid attending gay weddings yourself.
"But Jackson, what about my kids? What if they're walking down the street and see two men holding hands and kissing? How do I explain that to them?"
Easy, friend. You don't have to explain anything. Kids are pretty intuitive. They'll figure it out.
"But what if seein' men kissin' makes my kid turn into a gay?"
Well, I've seen most of the "Fast & Furious" movies, and I have yet to turn into a sports car.
Just because your gay neighbor has the legal right to get married, it doesn't mean you have to go out and marry your gay neighbor. I'm sure he could do better than you, anyway.
To reiterate: If you are an unmarried heterosexual living in Illinois, come next year, a gay spouse will not be assigned to you by the state. So chill out.
Ways in which your life might change now that gay marriage is legal in Illinois:
— You will still pay too much for popcorn at the movie theater.
— Your mother will still wish that you called her more often.
— Michael Bay will still be making "Transformer" movies that nobody likes but everybody sees.
— Justin Bieber will still have more money and sex than you.
— There is an increasing chance that the next time you crash a wedding, you'll be asked which side you're with: the bride or the bride?
I'm curious to see the data as it rolls in: Who will rush to the alter in greater numbers: gay men or gay women?
What does a gay bachelor party look like?
Why did I just Google Image Search the term "Gay Bachelor Party"?
In the end, the argument over same-sex marriage rights has always boiled down to this:
On one side, there is love and acceptance; on the other side, there is hate and oppression.
This week, in Illinois, love and acceptance overcame hate and oppression.
I hear the bells, and they sound fabulous.
Ryan Jackson thinks next year will be a great year to be a wedding planner in Illinois, and he can be reached at email@example.com.