Getting straight on gay marriage

It was every college journalist’s dream: one phone call away from having an athlete out himself or herself on the pages of The Daily Utah Chronicle, and it’s nearly a done deal.

What a perfect way to broach the unspoken thread between homosexuality and sports, between myth and reality, between fact and fiction.

It’s 9:06 a.m., the day before deadline. My contact to the athlete regrets to inform me the interview can’t happen.

“I’m sorry,” my contact says.

“It’s OK, I completely understand,” I say. And I really did.

An athlete on the cusp of revealing his or her sexuality before 28,000 students pulls out at the last moment, worried about the fallout such a decision could bring.

I wasn’t upset that a dream story fell through the cracks. I wasn’t angry that my source had misgivings about setting up the interview. He or she was more concerned about the privacy and safety of this athlete than the person was with how the story would look. The person was absolutely right to feel that way.

What upset me about the here today, gone tomorrow story of a gay athlete choosing to come out was that it had to be a story at all.

Should it matter that this person is gay? Isn’t that irrelevant?

No and no. Since the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s Feb. 4 ruling that gay marriage is unconstitutional, the issue has thrust itself into the fibers of our everyday lives. Some believe the ruling is a death blow against the establishment and some say it’s a victory of huge proportions, but either way, it’s something we need to talk about.

With all the historical austerity we lend to the struggle for civil rights by blacks in the 1960s and women in the 1920s, it’s impossible to ignore the moral seesaw that gay marriage presents to our society.

Unfortunately, what began as a seemingly black-and-white discussion is becoming gray, and the logic dim.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that there is a movement aimed at amending the state and federal constitutions to clearly define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

A movement that would send a clear message to America’s gay community: You can live here, but as second-class citizens.

No tax breaks like straight couples get and no adoption rights.

Instead, gay America has steep inheritance taxes and the inability to make health decisions without extra paperwork for an ailing partner to look forward to should such an amendment pass.

But as foreboding as that may be, some in the gay community have taken to confrontational, in-your-face counter-punches to have their voices heard, and that accomplishes nothing but a sore throat.

There’s so many more important things plaguing our globe than who somebody may share his or her bed with and if there’s not, there should be.

The U had its very own taste of this pervasive climate on March 31, when about 50 members of the College Republicans-U Chapter held a protest outside Marriott Library denouncing gay marriage.

When nearly 300 members of the U’s gay community, led by the Lesbian and Gay Student Union, showed up to mount their own counter-protest, a real live college atmosphere settled for a few hours on lower campus.

It shouldn’t take an attempted constitutional revision to stir such emotion, but I’m glad that it has.

The U is full of dynamic, robust and staunch opinions by people just aching to be heard.

The Chronicle helps that process along, but nothing can replace honest-to-God student activism.

The problem facing our nation today is that there is a group of Americans fighting for equality on an unequal playing field. If that battle sounds familiar, it’s because it’s been fought many times before. Is this one worth it?

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