Wednesday, September 12, 2012
A Letter from the Heart for Marriage Equality
Dear Family...for in the end that is exactly what we are, the family of all mankind, children of God, united together:
I originally wrote this letter almost a year ago to close friends and family as a means to ask them to sign a petition supporting marriage equality. That specific petition has run its courser but you can easily find more with a quick Internet search and I leave that to you. I do feel the heart of the original message is still very current, necessary, and applicable and so I decided to share it on my blog, slightly updated. Perhaps you already support marriage equality or perhaps you are on the fence still deciding...I welcome you to read on regardless. Marriage equality is very near and dear to my heart for several reasons:
1- I am a gay man and proud to say my partner and I have said, "I do," in the context of a Civil Union in Illinois and next summer will make those vows again before family and friends and receive the blessing of the Church. However, without marriage equality in all 50 states we are simply viewed as friends living together with a partnership agreement drawn up in Indiana. In one state we are married, another we are in a 'partnership', another we are nothing. We still must file taxes separately and do not receive the benefits for having a child that other families do. In a moment of tragic comedy after coming back to Indiana from the Illinois ceremony I turned to Andrew and said, "Well, it was a wonderful 48 hours while it lasted." This is inhumane treatment at it's core. Without marriage equality there are countless relationships across America constantly in flux and being treated differently simply based upon the local, or what state, the couple happens to be standing in at the moment.
2- My Uncle Phil was one of the first gay men in America to fight for marriage equality. Even when the gay community often declined to support him, as they wanted to remain hidden, and not ruffle the feathers or risk upheaval - Uncle Phil carried on. Nothing stopped Uncle Phil from seeing a future where all Americans were free to dedicate themselves, as they desired, to the person they loved and sacrificed for. As a gay man, I am eternally grateful to my uncle for standing up and beginning a fight in NY for equality which finally after many, many years reached fruition this past summer (2011). When the day of our formal wedding arrives next summer Uncle Phil will be on my mind and hopefully present, he fought to make it possible. When no one else would, he stood up and fought...before it was in vogue before you could do so without fear of extreme so called retribution.
3- Regardless of religious or personal views, marriage equality is plain and simple - American...its freedom and choice, something this nation prides itself on. No religious or political group should be able to dictate the terms of who can marry and not, not to mention the side effects of the lack of equality: higher taxes for gay families with children, less government support for gay families in need, little to no rights for gay partners in states without some form of partnerships or marriages. These are all heartbreaking issues which are inhumane and frankly from a religious perspective: the concept of evil. All humans should and must be free to marry or not, as they choose to a fellow human being. May we no longer continue to use the same hate filled rhetoric and speeches (and even holy writings) that have been used to promote slavery, war, racism, and annihilation of certain groups and tribes who were 'different' then what was considered to be correct or perhaps 'straight.'
4- Perhaps the best and most simple answer comes from the fabulous Dolly Parton and who can argue with it: “gay people should have the right to be as miserable, as married straight people are.”
So my friends, take a moment and consider the necessity of marriage equality but don't stop there, be vocal, be a light in a world of hatred and darkness and ignorance. In the summer of 2011 at Indy Pride I had the privilege of meeting several elderly gay couples who had been together for 50-70 years. I was moved to tears hearing their stories and fight for survival over the decades. Who can dare to look at two human beings who share such a bond for each other that they would endure the entire world being against them, their families hating them, their self sacrifice to make a relationship work for 50+ years and then dare to tell them: love can not be found in your relationship, its unnatural and based only on lust.
I share with you this quote said by a gay Christian man when confronted with the presumed 'sinfulness' of his relationship by one who deemed themselves obviously perfected enough to determine another's ability to love : "My relationship is the part of my life that demands the greatest sacrifice and stretches me the most in my ability to love. I believe in confessing and repenting of my faults and failures. I work at it regularly. But far from feeling sinful, this area of my life is that which brings out the very best in me."
I know this rings true in my life. I find grace in my relationship, I find a call to grow, to sacrifice, to love unconditionally, to give even to the point where it hurts. I find peace, struggle- as all do, and splendid joy. And yet, contrary to some religious opinion I am still well aware of when I fail and make mistakes, when I am less than I should be toward my son or a fellow human being. I do not find myself given over to a 'reprobate mind' but rather I find myself consistently growing in love for my partner, my self, our son, and all mankind. I feel a Divine call to holiness by not judging others but loving all unconditionally. To make known through my life and actions the words of St. John: God is love!
Thanks for listening and standing with your LGBT brothers and sisters who are no different than you. May we dream of a world not only where there is no separation of ethnic groups and humans of different appearance and skin tone but also where there is no separation of straight and gay...just humans all on a mission to love wastefully and be all they can be! You can be a part of that future...you can pave the way for our grandchildren to never know the hate and ignorance we have born witness too other than through history books.
With much love, your brother on the journey of life with you,