Joshua Trey Barnett is the co-creator and editor of GayInAthens.com and the contributing blogger behind Dawg Days, a weekly update from Athens for Project Q Atlanta.
I sat there on a pew near the back of the small country church, watching as two close friends tied the knot.
The young couple embodies what it means to be in love. That, to me, is what marriage and civil unions are all about anyways – two people who share unending love for one another.
Our government, like so many, has confused equality with religious rightness. That is, our elected officials are willing to sacrifice equality for one segment of the population for what another segment says is right. And in America, it’s my own religious persuasion that has politicos on both sides of Congress calling same-sex unions an abomination, a moral wrong in America.
Georgia’s politicians are no strangers to such feelings towards same-sex unions. Athens’ own Paul Broun, a Congressman from the 10th District, recently announced he would introduce a national ban against same-sex marriage that would repeal many newly implemented state laws that either allow or recognize such unions.
This, of course, comes from a medical doctor who ran on a campaign platform of less government and more states’ rights. That promise, it seems, only holds true when the states make decisions that Broun is happy with. So much for letting the states decide what’s best for them.
But, back to my wedding day story.
When it was almost time for the pastor to pronounce the two “man and wife,” he made a point to say that marriage is only for one man and one woman. Later, at the reception, several of us commented on how beautiful the ceremony was and how much we liked the outdoor, white-tent reception. Several of my friends shared future wedding plans. So I joined in and made a few statements about how I wanted my wedding to be and the entire table went silent. Just like the politicians, they must have felt it was much safer to just ignore same-sex couples.
Now is the time for Georgians to step up and make their voices heard on issues relating to and affecting the LGBT community. We cannot let our officials ignore us any longer. Same-sex unions and hate crimes legislation are on the national stage and there has never been a more opportune time to make some real change. New England is leading the way; now we must take their example and run with it.
But national change must be implemented through our elected officials. We can rant, rally and protest until our voices and energy dry up. But until we elect forward-thinking, open-minded officials, we won’t see change.
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