Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Heroic Aspirations, Gay Marriage and the Mormon Church

My name is Brent Beal. I’ve been married for eighteen years. My wife and I have three beautiful kids. We are both university professors, we’re Mormon, and we support gay marriage.

I support gay marriage for two reasons.

Heroic Aspirations

People are people. On our bad days, we’re capable of unforgivable indifference and unimaginable cruelty. On most days we muddle through—we help each other out, we keep each other company. On good days, we do things that make the world a better place.

There are quite a few good days in our history. For me, when it comes to the issue of gay marriage, one day, in particular, sticks out: July 4, 1776. This is the day, of course, that the committee of the whole of the Continental Congress adopted the final draft of Declaration of Independence. Here’s the second sentence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

When I was younger, I found the reference to God comforting. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to a deeper understanding of the wisdom of referencing God as the ultimate source individual rights, but I also see now that that’s not the source of this passage’s power. What this passage does, in a heroically aspirational way, is elevate basic rights—the right to Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness—above all else. The existence of these rights is not open for debate. They cannot be put up for vote. The majority, even in a democracy, cannot take them away from the minority. All men are created equal, and they have certain rights, full stop. Notice that not only are these rights set safely beyond the reach of government—they are put beyond the reach of everyone, and that includes those who think God has informed them otherwise.

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