While I’ve long been for extending every benefit of marriage to same-sex couples, I have in the past drawn a distinction between a marriage-like status (“civil unions”) and full marriage rights.
The reason was simple: I was raised to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. And as many other Americans have realized as they’ve struggled to reconcile the principle of fairness with the lessons they learned early in life, that’s not an easy thing to overcome.
But the fact that I was raised a certain way just isn’t a good enough reason to stand in the way of fairness anymore.
My young daughters are growing up in a different reality from what I did. ..... to my daughters, these couples are married simply because they love each other and want to build a life together. That’s what we’ve taught them. The things that make those families different from their own pale in comparison to the commitments that bind those couples together.
And, really, that’s what marriage should be. It’s about rights and responsibilities and, most of all, love.
I believe that, when my daughters grow up, barriers to marriage equality for same-sex couples will seem as archaic, and as unfair, as the laws we once had against inter-racial marriage.
And I want them to know that, even if he was a little late, their dad came down on the right side of history.
I understand that even those who oppose discrimination might continue to find it hard to re-think the definition of marriage they grew up with. I know it was for me.
But many of the things we must do to make our union more perfect – whether it’s fighting for decades to reform our health care system or struggling with a difficult moral question – are hard. They take time. And they require that, when you come to realize that something is right, you be unafraid to stand up and say it.
That’s the only way our history will progress along that long arc towards justice.
Sen. Dodd now joins Iowa Sen Tom Harkin who also changed his views and now is an advocate for marriage equality:
“We all grow as we get older, and we learn things and we become more sensitive to people and people’s lives,” Harkin said. “And the more I’ve looked at that, I’ve grown to think differently about how people — how we should live. And I guess I’m at the point that, you know — I’m to that point of live and let live,” Harkin said.