West Virginia Decriminalized Gay Sex 30 Years Ago – When Will it Legalize Gay Marriage?

Expressing your love to your partner – in the most intimate way – was once illegal. West Virginia decriminalized gay sex on June 1, 1976. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people have been consumed by our nation’s legal and political arenas once more.

Making love to your partner or having a one-night-stand will no longer get you arrested. But Pat Robertson, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Dr. James Dobson and that ilk are determined to make publicly committing to that partner taboo. What are they afraid of? Robertson, Falwell and Dobson have said time and again that they’re trying to preserve the institution of marriage.

Really? Divorce rates have remained high before and after gay marriage became a hot-button issue. Where was the Religious Right then? I grew up in a conservative (even more so than Robertson, Falwell or Dobson) “activist” church, which picketed adult book stores and abortion clinics. But I don’t recall it or other conservatives actively pursuing a constitutional amendment banning or restricting divorce.

Straight people have done a good job of weakening the institution of marriage. Laying the blame on the queer community for its decline is bunk. The Religious Right’s concern for the sanctity of marriage seems to be a little too politically expedient. Their stance has given them the power to run our country. Why? They’ve got President George W. Bush by the balls.

Thankfully, First Lady Laura Bush has enough balls for both of them. Laura said she didn’t believe gay marriage should be used a political tool. Vice President Dick Cheney’s gay daughter, Mary, concurred. Amazingly, the First Lady has been more outspoken on the issue than Mary. Though, she’s become more talkative since her memoir, Now, It’s My Turn, was released.

This 30-year anniversary reminds us how far we’ve come. Life today reminds us that there’s work to be done. We can now connect with our partners on most intimate level with little fear of retribution. But we can’t build a life, with safeguards like inheritance rights or jurisdiction in medical decisions, in the same manner our straight counterparts do.

We must do it by piecemeal. Despite how it’s been portrayed, the fight for gay marriage isn’t about letting us be like the straight people. It’s about allowing us to be as protected as the straight people. There’s a difference. The Religious Right has used smoke and mirrors to obscure that difference.

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