If you’re over the age of five, it should come as no shock when I say that same sex marriage is one of, if not the most politically divisive issue of the last decade. You may be surprised, however, when I tell you that there is an increasing number of LGBT+ individuals who talk about how same sex marriage is not important and that there are so many other important issues to be focusing on, such as violence toward trans* people, discrimination in the workplace, LGBT+ suicides, etc. They roll their eyes every time we celebrate when a new state legalizes same sex marriage and don’t know how to take a moment to appreciate the little victories.

Well I’m here to tell all those people that legalizing gay marriage is about so much more than just getting married and the plethora of rights that come with it. With regards to the United States, I do not believe that this is an issue that should be left to the individual states to decide; this is an issue that the federal government needs to address with a constitutional amendment. It is a stance that the country needs to take with regards to their citizens that let’s them know that they are being treated equally in this situation. It tells kids that being gay is not wrong and that you shouldn’t be ashamed of whom you are. There are definitely issues that are more serious but as of right now it is the most visible LGBT+ issue and I think that young kids are able to internalize it not only because of how hot of a topic it is but also because they don’t have the ability to comprehend more complex issues yet. I personally get very uncomfortable when people say that marriage equality isn’t a big deal. No matter how many times children’s parents or peers say that being gay is okay, as of right now the government is telling them differently. The government, which is the institution that ideally is supposed to protect every citizen of that country is marginalizing an entire population and letting them know that they are not equal. Maybe if children were able to have 100% confidence in the fact that being gay is okay, there would be fewer of other issues as well such as LGBT+ suicides and bullying.

It all comes down to creating a society and culture that doesn’t view LGBT+ individuals as second-class citizens. Nobody is trying to actively suppress the other issues, but I believe that when you dig a little deeper, the root of every LGBT+ injustice stems from the fact that being LGBT+ is viewed as being deviant and as a negative. We need to work to change this mindset if we have any hope of correcting every injustice that LGBT+ people face, and legalizing same sex marriage nationwide is one step in the right direction. Eventually the older generations will pass on, so with each new generation that is born, we must instill in them the proper values and code of ethics that we want to see in the brighter future that we all dream of.

– Jon Zhang