Editor's note: The following essay ran in the Capital City Weekly on Feb. 25, and among all the student pieces ran in the CCW, it was was selected by the school's Student Editorial Board as 'best essay' for publication in the Juneau Empire.
Ten percent of America is gay. That's 1 in 10. Chances are that's someone you know or someone you come in contact with every day. Why should they be given different rights just because of their sexual orientation? They shouldn't. Gay marriage should be legal in all 50 states.
The government shouldn't tell people how to live their lives. Right now, only two states allow gay marriage, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For a short time California allowed gay marriage, but then the people over-turned the decision and it is no longer allowed. The problem is, only a small percentage of our country's population live in those states.
What about the millions of others who are gay and love each other? Many people say they should just get a domestic partnership (which is similar in some ways to marriage, except for the 1,138 other rights that married couples have), but still 19 states don't allow that either.
As George Sand, a famous French novelist once said, "There is one happiness in life, to love and to be loved." Should the laws choose who can and can't have that happiness based on their sexual preference? People should choose whom to love; we don't need the government to intervene.
Gay marriage is similar to interracial marriage. People used to say interracial marriage was wrong because it wasn't "normal" and it was a tradition for couples to get married that were of the same race. But eventually they realized that it was unconstitutional for making individuality illegal. There isn't much difference with gay marriage. Banning it is unconstitutional. As Charles Evans Hughes, the former Secretary of State, once wrote, " When we lose the right to be different, we lose the right to be free."
All in all, there is no plausible reason to ban gay marriage. Just because you think it's gross, or that your friends don't like it, doesn't give us the right to tell people who to love or how to live their lives. This country has freedom of religion, so we shouldn't make law because our religion says it's wrong.
As a nation, we should come together and make it legal for gay couples to get married. In the Pledge of Allegiance, it doesn't say with liberty for the straight people, liberty for the white people, or liberty for men. It just says with liberty and justice for all.
Madeleina Ellingson-Van Sickle is an eighth-grader in Samantha Davis' language arts class at Floyd Dryden Middle School.