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Peaceful activism can make a big difference

 

Eric Hydrick / Columnist

With gay marriage becoming more and more of a hot topic in the United States today and legal efforts from multiple sources mounting to stop it, the mayor of San Francisco is taking the same first steps to make major national changes. He stood up and said "This law sucks, I'm not doing that." Now homosexuals can come to San Francisco to get married, despite state laws that say they can't.

It is this kind of acting out that forces sweeping changes in America. By petitioning for the right to marry, homosexuals would have to work for multiple lifetimes in order to see much, if any progress. By ignoring the law and marrying anyway, they are forcing the states to quit ignoring gay marriages or trying to dodge the issue. Now they have to examine it and act based on the results from the marriages that have been made.

The best part about all of this is that nobody is getting hurt. There is no physical damage resulting from these marriages. There is no violence or rioting going on due to the gay marriages in San Francisco. People are just getting married despite a law that says that they can’t, just like some people sat at a counter and asked for food despite laws saying they couldn’t.

Acting out against laws that are viewed as unjust in such a way as to not do harm to anyone is the highest form of expressing oneself. Because, after all, if there is no chance of causing injury to anyone, is there a point in punishing people for it? San Francisco’s mayor doesn’t seem to think so. Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t seem to think so. Mahatma Ghandi didn’t seem to think so. Henry David Thoreau didn’t seem to think so.

San Francisco is an example of democracy in action. By getting married in spite of state laws forbidding it, people are making it known that they see nothing wrong with gays getting married. They are also clearly stating an unpopular opinion on a touchy subject without setting anybody off. Civil disobedience is one of the best catalysts for change in a democratic society. Instead of activists trying to convince the system that there is a need for change, now the system must determine the best way to continue on in the future.

The homosexual marriages going on in San Francisco are the people’s way of making their preferences known peacefully. This is the kind of thing that children are taught in schools when discussing protests and making changes in the world. This is the kind of activism that we value in our society, acting out peacefully. The actions of the mayor of San Francisco will go down in the history books, not because of whether he supported gay marriage, but because of how he acted on the issue. This is what is truly important in San Francisco, and what we should all take away from it.