Nevels: Supreme Court paves the way for expanding gay rights

Nevels: Supreme Court paves the way for expanding gay rights

June 30th, 2013 Matt Nevels in Opinion Columns

ABOUT THE WRITER

Matt Nevels was a Southern Baptist preacher who changed his beliefs and is now a local gay rights advocate. He helped start a local group for families and their gay children. His story was featured in the Times Free Press last June in a report called Tempest in My Soul. His son, Stephen, died of AIDS.

The debate continues.

It is time to grant lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons civil rights the same as everyone else.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court extended federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples last week, now is the best time - perhaps ever - to affirm this right.

As I see it, two issues demand attention: 1.) Prevailing social attitudes, which history shows sways the majority of decisions of the court, especially on social issues; and, 2.) the benefits of marriage enjoyed by opposite-sex couples not available to same-sex couples.

The 1100-plus federal benefits afforded heterosexual couples are not available to same-sex couples. This is reason enough to legalize same-sex marriage.

Imagine this: Jane Doe and Sara Smith commit to each other and establish a home. Jane births a child as they begin a life together not unlike any other couple.

However, living as a married couple is not possible for Jane and Sara. They cannot file joint tax returns - there alone a host of benefits is unavailable to them. One of them can claim their child as a dependent, thus further complicating and impacting the financial standing of the family.

The child goes to school, however, only one parent can relate to the school, further complicating the everyday function of the family. Then there's insurance of every kind that limits the use of same.

Suppose there's an accident, Sara is seriously injured and lands in the hospital with life-or-death issues. Who can make those decisions? And this is only the tip of the iceberg; these more than 1,100 marriage benefits are not available to this couple, thus leaving them very little assistance and comfort to each other.

Oh, the nightmares that jump into the fray, the family issues that show their heads, especially where money and children are involved. We could go on.

I've been dealing with this issue more than 20 years, and I have drawn some conclusions: the root of the problem is whether people are born LGBT, or did they wake up one day and decide to be ostracized by the culture surrounding all of us, and decide to be gay.

I think not! I am convinced we are born with our state of sexuality. LGBTQ persons do not choose to be in a position to be treated the way they are treated by the homophobic climate they find themselves in.

In short, you cannot decide for someone else what their sexuality should be. So, it's time to back off and stop the homophobic rants about the great men and women who make up the wonderful, talented, smart, caring "gay communities" across this nation and around the world and accept everybody the way they are. They deserve to marry whom they choose and enjoy the benefits everyone else does.

The Supreme Court has spoken: It's time! Good!

Now all these couples can move into the mainstream of the culture and experience the fruits of all their, and our, many years of labor.