“I stand before you begging you to give back a right that was never ours to take–To follow in the amazing footsteps of your predecessors who granted equal rights to minorities, to women, to the disabled”
Statement submitted to the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee by Lexi Magnusson. See related blog entry.
I am a straight, very happily married mother of four children. I’m an active member of the Mormon Church. I support marriage for everyone.
Last year while we were living in Washington DC, I went with my son on his Kindergarten field trip to the National Monuments. We wound through the Jefferson, the FDR and then came to the new Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. We had a little worksheet to fill out and one of the questions asked what Dr. King did. Peyton plopped himself down on a bench next to two men as we talked. In response to a question, Peyton said, “He (Dr. King) thought that all men and women should be treated the same, no matter what.” That’s when I noticed that the two men sitting next to Peyton were holding hands. They smiled as they listened to a boy saying what he knew to be right. And he was right.
I am profoundly grateful for Dr. King’s work. The Civil Rights Movement paved the way for the Disability Rights movement. The Disability Rights movement is alive and at work in my everyday life. It ensures that my children, one born with autism, the other born with Down syndrome, the same rights as everyone else. As recently as 1970 in New York, it was against the law for people who were disabled to go out in public in order to protect the sensitivities of those who were not disabled. Children like mine were institutionalized; some were sterilized against their will. Those things make me cringe even as I write them.
I truly believe it is the way our children will cringe when they hear that the generation before would not allow two people who are in love to get married. I just can’t conceive how the world would not be a better place with more happy marriages in it.
I am Mormon, but I don’t believe this is a religious issue. I believe that when you protect the rights and freedoms of others, you are also protecting your own rights and freedoms. It happened with the women’s, civil, and disability movements. In each case these people received their rights and their dignity, really, and the world didn’t come to a crashing end as was believed by many at the time. When these movements started to succeed in their goals, the churches still held their own rights. These churches were never forced to allow women or blacks in their leadership or clergy; they were never forced to marry interracial couples. I believe that freedom of religion is a sacrosanct principle to Americans, it’s protected in the Constitution, and allowing gay people to greater rights under the law is never going to be allowed to infringe on those freedoms.
I love being married. It is the greatest blessing I have in my life. It divides the sorrows and multiplies the joys. I stand before you begging you to give back a right that was never ours to take. To follow in the amazing footsteps of your predecessors who granted equal rights to minorities, to women, to the disabled. It’s time.