Sound Off: Gay marriage supported here

By Renee Malsom

The popular opinion about Oak Harbor is that it’s a conservative town. That may be true, but there is also a significant liberal population. With that said, there are many supporters of gay marriage living in Island County. This was not well represented in the March 12 edition of the Whidbey News-Times’ Street Talk, in which the only supporter of gay marriage happened to be from Atlanta, Georgia.

I support gay marriage because I believe all Americans, regardless of their sexuality, should be treated equally. Many gay/lesbian couples have been together for a long time. Despite some of your objections, a gay/lesbian relationship consists of the same elements as a heterosexual relationship. I’ve met several homosexual couples that have lived together for well more than 15 years in a committed relationship.

Now let me explain why marriage is so important to such Americans. First, many employers will not allow a gay/lesbian partner, even one of more than 15 years, to be covered on the other’s health insurance plan. Also, if one partner becomes ill or is in an accident, the other cannot visit him/her in the intensive care unit. In addition to that, gay/lesbian partners legally cannot make any medical decisions regarding the other partner unless they fill out legal documents giving the other partner a durable power of attorney. Many gay/lesbian couples also have children from previous relationships living with them whom they’ve raised together. If one partner should die, the other often gets no visitation or legal rights regarding the children (depending on which state they live in) — even couples who have been together for 15 plus years. This is the reality of the gay marriage situation, and why I support gay marriage 110 percent. It’s far more serious than most people realize.

I am a student at Skagit Valley College’s (SVC) Oak Harbor campus who recently helped found Rainbow Alliance, a new club on campus that is open to members of the community who support equal rights for gays/lesbians. Our goals include: Identifying and coordinating a network of people empathetic and knowledgeable about gay/lesbian issues and concerns; reaching out to promote awareness, understanding and dialogue of issues surrounding gender and sexuality; educating and providing resources; supporting equal rights for gays/lesbians by engaging in political action and social reform; as well as working in conjunction with other organizations with similar goals.

If you believe homosexual-Americans should receive the same rights as heterosexual-Americans you’re not alone; please join us in doing what we can to make a difference! You do not have to be a SVC student or gay/lesbian to help out. If interested, please contact us at rainbow.alliance@skagit.edu.

Renee Malsom lives in Oak Harbor.

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