I run a psychology/neuro-sci based company and understand the actual science behind why this does matter. So I'm going to explain it without taking sides.
Disclaimer: I use science, not religion, to found these arguments. So if you believe in religion over science, this may offend you. And I'm sorry.
One of our greatest psychological needs is the need to belong. For those of you who believe in science, this is a result of evolution. Ancient humans and our ancestors who teamed up, survived better. This is nothing controversial or surprising. Imagine you get your nutrition/food intake from a mix of hunting and gathering. Well, if your working with others, one person can hunt while the other gathers (increased efficiency). Or if one person get injured (like breaking/spraining a leg) someone else can take over (long-term security). So, our genetics tell us to fit in and make sure we have friends/family/people that care about us.
So: We are genetically programed to belong.
What does this mean?
It means that not-belonging is one of the greatest tortures around.
Let's start out simple. Many psychologists argue that placing a human in solitary confinement is akin to torture. And they have science to back them up on this. You can find lots of the studies, explanations, etc here: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/07/solitary-confinement-2/ nicely summarized for your enjoyment.
Let's take the next step.
Being rejected can be considerably worse than solitary confinement.
While scientists have shown solitary confinement is horrible for you, rejection is worse.
When you feel like an outcast, like you don't belong, etc, it takes a heavy mental toll.
Again, this is science-based. Studies have proven with brain scans. This article explains some of the science: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/04/rejection.aspx
One study it discusses is a somewhat famous one now, done by Eisenberger, Williams, et al. They basically had people play a simple online game where a Frisbee was tossed back and forth, and measured their brain activity. When an individual was excluded from the game (ex. 3 ppl playing frisbee but the individual is never thrown the frisbee) the same parts of the brain associated with physical pain activated. Surprisingly, even when the person played with a computer and not other people and was aware, they would also activate the pain centers of the brain.
What does this mean?: Even when playing with a COMPUTER, if we are excluded by the COMPUTER, we still suffer from it.
In other words, we are very very very very hardwired to want to fit in.
Now let's move on to the issue at hand.
Why is gay marriage such a serious issue?
Well, it's due to all the reasons I mentioned above.
When a gay person is told they can't get married, it makes them feel different or outcast. Maybe not consciously, but in almost all cases it does.
The exact same way you would have felt as a child if some kids said they didn't want to play with you, or if you got bullied every day at school.
Now when there are organizations screaming all over the news about how gay people are immoral, and unnatural, it does take a toll, weather people realize it or not.
Online games are meant to be an escape from the real world. You can be whoever you want to be, lie about who you are, etc.
If allowing gay marriage took extra work (like extra programming), it may be legitimate to argue that it's just not a needed feature.
If the lore was against gay marriage then there may be some argument for excluding it.
But neither of these are the case. In eorzea the lore is pretty cool with gays (according to devs) due to the cultural diversity.
And the devs had to take an extra step to -prevent- gay marraige.
Put another way, the devs went -out of their way- to disallow gay marriage
And the devs called the subject controversial.
Now to religious people who don't believe in science, I fully understand the distaste towards gays. Religion can be a powerful thing and generally make people into jerks (ex. crusades, witch burning, terrorism, protesting at funerals of those who died in war). If someone brainwashes you into believing that you have to hurt others to get into heaven, it's not necessarily your fault. Our brains are designed to be gullible and fall for it (again for various social/evolutionary reasons). And one could even argue that the reasons as to why we experience religion (from a scientific perspective) are what make us uniquely intelligent and able to use tools and pass on knowledge.
However, to many who are gay, the issue is simple: not allowing gays to get married is acknowledging something is wrong with them.
And that is hurtful for the reasons i explained.
It's separating them from "normal" people and defining them as "different"
It's a form of psychological torture. And this is not an exaggeration.
Luckily there are many gay support networks and many people who are lbgtq are very strong individuals, able to deal with the discrimination.
But that doesn't make it right.
Many people of many religions play final fantasy
It should be a fairly secular game
And according to science, not only is it natural to be gay (found in many many animals), but gay couples have been proven to be no different than straight couples in raising children, or in being married. Science has proven that there are no negative side effects to gay marriage.
Personally, I see no difference between this issue, and racial rights, religious discrimination, genocide, or women's rights and suffrage.
I've seen people argue that it's completely different because being gay is a choice and the others aren't, but that's a myth. People are born gay. It's been proven many times with twin studies. And being gay is more natural than race (which is human-invented). The way we define race is not and has never been genetically accurate.
Is it fair to force a group to suffer because of a few people's extreme religious views and lack of belief in science?
That's up to you to decide.
But this is why the issue matters, and is important to many people. And for anyone who truly believes in equality, this issue should matter to you.
Note: There is also a huge argument as to how acknowledging gay marriage is wrong, promotes the idea in culture that gays are wrong. But I like to pretend that those playing final fantasy are smart enough to be individuals and not be swayed by the world around them (even though I know statistically it's not true).
Edit: If something is unclear, ask and I'll clarify it. If you don't believe in something, let me know and I'll try to find the studies on it (most are in journals and would require an account, which you probably have if you're in university). If you think something I said is untrue, feel free to call me out on it and explain why the science is wrong. If you have a religious argument, feel free to throw that out as well, because I can probably counter it based on the perspective of your religion (as I've studied most of the major ones). I'm very open minded, and I love talking about the brain :p
Edited, Aug 19th 2013 10:29pm by Azurymber