What is the problem?

That’s gay. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard those words used to describe something as stupid or somehow wrong. The word gay is not a synonym for stupid.

October is Gay and Lesbian History Month. The first two gay and lesbian marches on Washington were held in October 1979 and October 1987. National Coming Out Day was Oct. 11.

Why, 30 years later, don’t LGBT individuals enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals?

Since the signing of the Defense of Marriage Act in September 1996, only three states, Massachusetts, California and Connecticut, have permitted gay marriage, and California may rescind it Nov. 4.

Vermont, New Jersey and New Hampshire have legal unions that offer the same rights as marriage, but do not use the term marriage.

Let’s face it. While I am glad that Vermont, New Jersey and New Hampshire have made efforts to have legal unions, unions do not equal marriage.

Our country decided that “separate but equal” is inherently wrong and unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education. Civil unions violate the exact same principle that racial segregation did.

We often hear the argument that homosexuals can have marriage, but it shouldn’t be called marriage.

How can something be equal if it is not the same?

It comes from a common misconception that homosexuality is somehow a choice and thus morally wrong. Such thoughts lay the foundation for discrimination and hate crimes.

Matthew Shepard was a college student in Laramie, Wyo. He was also gay. Shortly after midnight Oct. 7, 1998, he was taken to a remote area outside of Laramie by two men, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney.

They tied him to a fence and beat him, then left him to die – only because he was gay. Some may say that’s an extreme example, but those who describe gays as unequal to straights only encourage such beliefs and, subsequently, such behaviors.

Those who oppose gay marriage and those who discriminate against homosexuals need to step back and think.

Is it really so wrong for you to want to visit the person you love in the hospital?

Is it really so wrong to want to be recognized as a married couple because you love each other?

Do you really think that gay marriage will erode the sanctity of marriage?

As a society, we need to realize that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. We need to realize that denying a culture of people the right to happiness is a terrible crime. I do not know if I will be able to see the day when gay marriage is legalized in all 50 states.

But, I can hope. And, in the words of Harvey Milk, “hope will never be silent.”