Oliveras“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

That, of course, is a quote from one of our country’s most important documents, the Declaration of Independence. It states the belief that everyone is created equal. In modern times, that statement generally is interpreted to include people from all walks of life. It also declares that a creator granted all people unalienable rights. These rights include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

According to the Declaration, everyone has the right to be happy.

Yet same-sex marriage is frowned upon by governments and citizens in countries all over the world. The opposition is due to mainly religious-based views. Being forbidden to marry the person you love is a violation of the right to pursue happiness.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I would like to highlight the battle for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

In 1996, President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which states that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. While DOMA did not prevent states from allowing same-sex marriages, it did bar federal recognition of those unions and allowed states to refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

Fast forward to 2013, when Section 3 of the act was declared unconstitutional. Due to that, if a same-sex couple is married in a state where the marriage is legal, the couple will receive the same benefits as heterosexual couples.

That is a monumental milestone in our country’s history of intolerance for homosexuals. Yet it is still not enough.

Several states and countries around the world allow benefits to homosexual couples, but not many. Out of 50 states in this country, 33 states have banned same-sex marriage. Only 18 other countries worldwide have legalized same-sex marriage. The ideal would be to have same-sex marriage be legal everywhere.

The fact that this is even an issue in today’s society is ridiculous. If two people are in love and want to be joined together in matrimony, they should be perfectly able to do so without any legal technicalities.

Love is love and people should be able to marry whomever they so desire.

When Clinton signed the act, he most likely was not aware of how many lives it would affect. At the time this may have made sense to him, but this is not his time anymore.

This is our time. It’s our turn to make the decisions that will affect the country. It’s not 1996 anymore. That era is over. Shouldn’t the act be too?

In the words of the song “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “Strip away the fear. Underneath, it’s all the same love.”

Sarah Oliveras is a sophomore at West Linn High School. She is contributing a regular column to the Tidings this school year.

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