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Sarah Maxwell

It doesn’t matter

Recently two well-known figures have announced to the public they are gay. Missouri Tigers defensive end Michael Sam announced he was gay, and if he is drafted would be the first openly gay player in the NFL. The actress a lot of people know as “Juno,” Ellen Page, announced she was gay during a speech in front of hundreds of people at the Human Rights Campaign’s inaugural Time To THRIVE conference. Both of them have been heralded as brave.

When I heard all this, I wondered why this was news. What was so special about people being who they are. And then I remembered. We live in a society trying to prevent people for accessing their basic rights because it offends them. I wait for the day when announcements like this are no longer considered newsworthy, and it’s just a part of the makeup of our society. Unfortunately, I doubt that will happen for a long time.

You see, while athletes and celebrities are embracing their sexuality and no longer choosing to hide it, some states are still trying to ban gay marriage. Indiana voters could vote to ban gay marriage in their 2016 elections. The potential action would not ban civil unions. As states are trying to ban a basic right, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA and California’s Prop 8. So there is a little hope we are moving in the right direction for equality for all.

Now I’m all for freedom of speech – obviously, I work at a newspaper – but what riles me up is when someone has a differing opinion, voices it and then denies the opposing viewpoint an opportunity. We are all allowed to have opinions. Just because yours and mine are different doesn’t mean we can’t be civil and see the other side. Let’s be clear, I will always fight for my opponents’ right to say what they think, even if I don’t like it. I just want the same courtesy in return.

I know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about gay marriage. It’s a pretty polarizing topic, but ask yourself this, what would you do if you couldn’t marry the one you love. It’s depriving you of your ability to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, isn’t it? We all deserve to be happy. I get to marry the love of my life later this year after being together for more than five years. I would be pitching a fit if someone tried to stop me from marrying him. A man marrying a man or a woman marrying a woman doesn’t impact my life. So why would I try to prohibit it? Those who are trying to, look very backwards and narrow-minded.

Let’s take this a step further, those who say gay couples should not be able to adopt a child. Why, because it isn’t your typical nuclear family? One dad, one mom and two kids. Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist very much anymore. I grew up in that type of home, and I know I was lucky to have two parents who loved me unconditionally. That’s all that really matters. But now, parents are getting divorced. Kids are being raised by their grandparents or aunt or uncles. Just have a loving environment. Give a family love and kindness.

Does it really matter? I mean really? Does it matter who people choose to love? No, I don’t think so. I hope the rest of the world will eventually realize that and coming out won’t be news anymore.

BCR Copy Editor Sarah Maxwell can be reached at smaxwell@bcrnews.com.