As the country watched the Supreme Court deliberate on the fate of marriage equality the other day, it was heart-wrenching to watch as some of our leaders and elected officials in Utah voiced support for continued segregation.
We must start asking ourselves, how much longer will we continue to hurt our families?
A rally last week against marriage equality was hosted at the Utah State Capitol by the Osmond family, and featured high-profile speakers, including Gov. Gary Herbert.
The organizers sought desperately to keep the tone civil, with multiple speakers claiming they were not speaking out of hatred, but out of love for all.
But what kind of love is it to tell your fellow human beings, "I love you, I just don't want the best for you?"
We cannot continue to delude ourselves into thinking that denying full equality under the law inflicts no harm on our fellow Americans.
Loving and committed couples are placed into desperate straits without the benefits you and your spouse take for granted. The ability to make medical decisions for each other, not having to go through property disputes with your spouse's family if your spouse were to pass away, being able to gain insurance through your working spouse's employer. These are all things that opposite-sex couples never give a moment's consideration, yet are denied to hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples.
For most people, it would be unimaginable to be barred from the bedside of a dying spouse. For same-sex couples, that's a reality they must live with.
In the last three weeks, we've seen national polls revealing that the country is in favor of marriage equality. Senators and members of Congress from both major parties are flocking to the side of equality, saying that their personal beliefs are one thing, but they cannot claim to uphold the Constitution and still deny citizens full access to the law. Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio showed truly unconditional love after his son revealed to him that he is gay.
Marriage equality has nothing to do with your religion. Because it is the predominant faith in Utah, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the LDS Church's opposition to same-sex marriage. Yet, the wonderful LDS community, which has formed the group Mormons for Marriage, has taught us all an important lesson: Being personally opposed to same-sex marriage is far different than denying the rights of two people to walk into a courthouse.
The LDS Church is free to never perform same-sex marriages within its temples, but that should not infringe upon the rights of others who have no interest in a temple wedding.
As citizens of the United States, we must recognize our sacred duty to uphold the principles upon which our great nation was founded.
"We the People" have had some slips in our history, but one by one we have overcome them. We banished slavery, women achieved the right to vote, people of color became full citizens.
Now is the time, in 2013, to shrug off one of the remaining yokes of segregation and recognize that no two consenting adults can be legally denied the rights and privileges everyone else enjoys. We must all have equal access to the law.
I hope that the Osmond family, the governor, and all who follow them take to heart the lessons taught by Marie Osmond who, in 2009, when her daughter Jessica came out of the closet, said it best: "When it comes to marriage, civil rights need to be for all."
Eric Ethington is a civil rights activist and self-described political junkie. He lives in Salt Lake City.