Since the issue of gay marriage is so central to all aspects of communication and relationships, a few words about the issue and particularly about the California Supreme Court’s recent ruling that prohibiting gay marriage is unconstitutional and discriminatory seem appropriate.
In fact, I would think this topic would make for some spirited classroom discussion. The issue is perhaps most relevant to the study of interpersonal communication and relationships (after all, the way in which a relationship is defined—semantically and politically—will influence the relationship and the way in which others respond to that relationship which in turn will influence the relationship further, and on and on). But, I think the topic will prove relevant in a variety of classes. For example, in interpersonal communication (if you’re using a stage model of relationships such as the one I present in my books or the models of Mark Knapp or Julia Wood, say), some interesting discussion might center on how the stages might differ among persons who can be married and persons who cannot be married? How does that one difference influence the possible progression up and down the relationship track? In a persuasion class, the arguments for and against gay marriage would make for an interesting exercise in logic and reasoning. In small group classes this topic would be a natural for an information-sharing discussion. And in mass media, the topic would make for some interesting comparisons among media outlets in the United States and throughout the world. And in all these courses, the relevance of this topic to the issue to ethics is obvious.
California is only the 2nd state (Massachusetts is the other) to recognize something so obvious as the fact that preventing one group of people from enjoying the benefits that are readily available to another group of people is discriminatory and unconstitutional. It’s helpful, I think, to remember that it was as recently as 1967 (June 12)—just 40 years ago—that the US Supreme Court ruled (in Loving v. Virginia) that bans against interracial marriage were unconstitutional. And it’s also relevant to recall that the prohibitions against interracial marriage were supported by some of the very same organizations (some religious, some political) that are now asking that GLBT people continue to be discriminated against. Wouldn’t it be nice if “marriage” was defined in terms of the love between two people and not by gender?
I wonder (and worry) about why discrimination against a group of people occupies so much of the time and energy of the very people and organizations who are supposed to be concerned with issues that can improve the quality of life for all people. Why would they not be more concerned with such issues as the war, the economy, an educational system in need of major renovation, an infrastructure desperately in need of repair, global warming, and pollution—to take just a few examples? I just don’t get it.