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COMMENTARY: The double-edge sword of same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage has been both a flashpoint and an aspiration for decades. An entire generation has come of age knowing of marriage equality: legal, sanctified unions for any couple that chooses a life of commitment.

And like it or not, gay marriage has been a two-edged sword.

It was no surprise when “one man, one woman” rhetoric became a cash cow to the so-called “family values” crowd. Social conservatives rallied round the “family values” flag and the specter of gay folk marrying became the new Willy Horton, and yet another threat to western civilization. The issue drove hordes of people to the polls and often, with disastrous results.

The United States has one of the most divided, divisive and intransient legislative branches in memory, and the first time in American history, legislators are tripping over themselves to change state constitutions to deny rights to an entire group of American citizens.

Same-sex marriage cut deep into the middle ground of reason and compromise, but two-edged swords have a habit of cutting two ways.

Nothing, other than the AIDS epidemic, made our community more visible and more comprehensible to the straight community. We just want to live our lives as we see fit, and the public is beginning to wise up. There are bigger fish to fry.

Feuding over gay marriage is a distraction from other family issues like divorce, family planning, child abuse and spousal abuse. Thinking people have to wonder why those protesting the loudest don’t clean up the mess in their own backyard first.

After all, the godly institution of marriage seems less than holy on the Las Vegas strip or after Kim Kardashian’s 72-day marriage debacle. Millions of dollars and an extravagant wedding staged to entertain millions of television fans wasn’t enough to ensure “for better or for worse,” even in the Kardashian reality-TV empire.

But the real elephant in the living room is this: Why do social conservatives perceive their own institutions as such fragile, delicate houses of cards? Given the dismal statistics, in which half of those who get married end up divorced, the institution of marriage was in trouble way before we threw our hat in the ring.

Clearly, it’s easier to blame the enemy without than to look in the mirror and confront the enemy within.

In the end, marriage is little more than a choice. It’s an option. Not every couple, gay or straight, wants to get married or raise children or adopt the traditions of marriage.

But, some do. Marriage and the commitments inferred by marriage is an option not to be denied to anyone.

Social conservatives must be prepared to rewrite the Declaration of Independence, if they continue to pursue the denial of marriage to any couple that chooses that option. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is an affront to everything America stands for.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is part of the marriage contract between the citizens of the United States and the ideals of the Republic.

It would serve the “family values” folk well to remember that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable rights endowed by their creator. Surely, Tea Party constitutionalists don’t want argue with the Declaration of Independence, and God, and creator.

Kurt Niece writes about visual arts for SDGLN. He is a freelance journalist from Tucson, Ariz., who will be soon relocating to Lakewood, Ohio. He is the author of "The Breath of Rapture" and an artist who sells his work on his website.