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Why Matt Birk is wrong

I appreciate Matt Birk's intention to discuss same-sex marriage reasonably and amiably ("Don't redefine marriage," Oct. 26). However, I disagree with the rationale behind his arguments, and believe that he misunderstands the realities facing homosexuals and same-sex couples. I am a gay Raven's fan who will proudly cheer for Mr. Birk this upcoming Sunday. I only hope to respectfully rebut some of his claims.

Like many same-sex marriage opponents, he states that marriage has remained steadfast, and predates society. However, marriage once existed to exchange the ownership of land or to protect a bloodline. One must only look back 40 or 50 years to see my grandparents, like many in their generation, marry at age 19. Back then, interracial marriage was illegal. I'm now 22, and even my grandparents would question whether I'm too young to marry. In a short period of time, who one can marry, and when it has become socially acceptable to marry have radically changed. I believe for the better.

Mr. Birk also claims that "marriage protects the source of life." That heterosexual marriage is sacred because of the ability for a man and woman to reproduce. However, allowing same-sex marriage will not prevent or discourage reproduction. In addition, under this logic, infertile couples should be banned from marriage as well.

I also dispute that children need both a father and mother. To this I ask Mr. Birk, have you ever met the children of a same-sex couple? I have, and they are as loved, provided for and cared for as any other children. Or as I was. And they are not in any way confused about who their parents are, or about the laws of nature. The issue with this claim is that Mr. Birk is relying upon gender norms and stereotypes. Some men are more sensitive than others. Many women are tougher than men. It is undeniable that men and women are different as a whole. However, it is ignorant to claim that people cannot exhibit the best traits most commonly associated with the opposite gender.

Despite these disagreements, Mr. Birk and I agree on the most basic point of all — that the basis of society should be family. However, I don't believe in his narrow interpretation of the term. Family does not require blood or gender. It is about love and support, regardless of all else.

One of my biggest complaints about Mr. Birk's commentary is with his attempt to undermine that support for same-sex marriage is about love, equality and civil rights. Government is involved with love if it champions certain forms above others. There is also a big difference, despite his claims, between committed loving couples and former college roommates. I have both a boyfriend and a former college roommate. Trust me, these relationships are not the same.

On the issue of equality, it's frankly delusional for Mr. Birk to claim that he and I have the same rights to get married. I will never fall in love with a woman, and I have no interest in getting married to one. It's not that I'm declining a right that I have been given. It's that I don't have access to the only right that is provided.

In addition, to claim that marriage is a civil right is not the same as saying the struggle for marriage equality is the same as the civil rights movement. Comparing struggles is futile when both are battling injustice.

Mr. Birk's final claim, that "everyone benefits from a culture that promotes the natural definition of marriage between one man and one woman" is unequivocally wrong. This, above all else, demonstrates that which the author does not understand. Without marriage equality, my loving relationship and my future children are vulnerable to gaps in the law. I am not better off without it. Banning same-sex marriage will not eliminate same-sex relationships nor same sex families, it only leaves them vulnerable.

Though Mr. Birk claims that his opposition to marriage equality is not against a group of people, it is hard not to feel victimized when his relationship supposedly deserves rights and recognitions that mine does not.

Ravens fans such as myself love Matt Birk because of his loyalty and commitment to the team. He sacrifices himself each week for the well being of his teammates. These are the virtues that all loving couples demonstrate everyday, and those I ask voters to recognize in their support for Question 6.

Mitchell Cohen, Owings Mills,

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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