I had a heck of a time coming up with a topic for this week's speech. Which I have to give Wednesday. Fortunately, I figured out a topic this evening, and shortly after that I wrote the speech.
The audience is a small group of coworkers in Maryland.
The title of the speech is "Vote Yes on Question 6". The objective of this speech is to speak persuasively, using logic and emotion.
Good morning, TMOD, fellow toastmasters and guests. I typically speak to you about my hobbies and interests, but today I'm bringing up something important. Something that I care about for personal and philosophical reasons. Today I'll tell you why I think it's important that you vote in favor of Question 6, a referendum petition regarding the Civil Marriage Protection Act.
The presidential election is coming up quickly. Early voting starts this Saturday. The official election is in two weeks on November 6. So this is when you need to make your decisions about how you vote. And I hope you do vote. It's not only a civic responsibility, it's important to how our society functions. What you choose now will affect our culture, our laws, and how we all live. So please take the time to cast your ballot.
The Civil Marriage Protection Act, which has already been passed by our General assembly and signed by our Governor, establishes that Maryland's already existing civil marriage laws will also allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a marriage license. The same law let me get married. It let my parents get married. It let my brother get married. And I want my uncle to have that same freedom. I want my friends to have that freedom. I want people I've never met to have that freedom.
As a country, we proudly proclaim that we are the land of the free. But that's never been entirely true. Do you know who had the vote when we first started? Land owning white males. Women? Nope. Black men (or women?) Nope. Everybody has had to struggle for their "rights". That, at least, is in line with the founding of our country. We struggled. As a country, we have fought against what we thought was wrong. And within the country, we have voiced our feelings loudly and at length on every topic that could be legislated. We make laws and then we strike them down. We amend. We clarify. And all of us vote for what we think is right.
You may not feel that our gay and lesbian coworkers should have the right to marry each other, because your religion says that they shouldn't. But should others be forced to abide by the strictures of your religion? Should you stop drinking coffee because it has caffeine in it? It's not such an odd question - the Mormon religion prohibits it. Should I wear a head covering in public? Muslim women do. Should we all give up that most delicious of treats, bacon? The Jewish faith prohibits it.
And no, we don't have to do any of those things, because we have freedom of religion. I can worship any way I choose. And thank goodness I don't have to worship the way somebody else says, because what if that somebody else were a Pentecostal snake handler?
The Civil Marriage Protection Act, while allowing folks to get married, specifically protects clergy from having to perform any marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs, as well as several other protections for religious group.
Religion aside, the benefits that civil marriage provides don't just benefit the couple in question. The act gives the spouse the ability to act as next of kin and to make medical decisions for their partner. Without that right, who will make decisions when 80 year old Jane Doe with Alzheimer's is in need of care? Preferably, her wife Janine Doe will do it. Because Jane Doe's parents died quite a long time ago, and there isn't anybody else to make the decision. Wouldn't it be better to have her spouse of 40 years making that decision, rather than an uninterested doctor?
Or when John Doe dies, leaving James Doe and little Harry Doe. If John and James are married, they can both adopt Harry, and there isn't a legal question about who Harry's remaining parent is. With no marriage, Harry suddenly becomes a ward of the state - a burden on us all, a misery for him, and a heartbreak for James. With marriage, James and Harry can grieve, and then Harry gets to still have a father.
After John's death, if they were married, James inherits all their jointly owned property through right of survivorship. If they weren't, as under our current interpretation of the law, the lawyers and the state get a whopping huge chunk of the money, and the joint assets are tied up in court for months to years. I guess it's just as well that Harry was orphaned, because with John and James' bank accounts held by the state, it's not like James could feed him anyway!
For this and other reasons it makes sense to give Jane and Janine, and John and James, the right to marry. Let them take care of each other. Let them take care of their own affairs. Don't make the state step in, where it isn't needed or wanted. It costs us all more.
So please, when you come to question 6, vote yes in the referendum on the Civil Marriage Protection Act