Perhaps it’s the saturation of all the political ads on television and on the radio waves. Maybe it’s because I can’t scroll through Facebook or check googlenews without being inundated by the election coverage. Whatever the reason I’m felt drawn to add my small two cents to the interwebs, so just go ahead and skip reading this post.
When I was in second grade we had a lesson on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. We learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his march on Washington and listened to a recording of his Dream. Complete with the lesson was a homework assignment to “draw yourself with a black friend in the class” which seemed easy because Krystal Grey and I had been hanging out on the playground together since Kindergarten – score one for easy peasy credit to my overachieving elementary school self. When I was at home later drawing in my red spiral notebook my mom and I talked about the Civil Rights Movement as I asked her about it, assuming that of course she had full participation in it since she was 1) around before I was born and 2) this happened before I was born. Sorry mom for thinking you were so old; the history lesson came before we were able to do higher order subtraction.
To her credit she didn’t dumb down the horrors of that tempestuous time. She talked about how during those triumphant marches people were beaten. Savagely. Dogs were released to bite anyone walking or helping those who walked. Fire hoses were sprayed with such force it knocked people off their feet and bruised their skin (okay, the point that it was painful had to be driven home to my second grade self because at first I thought playing with the fire hydrant water would’ve been cool).
In short, Americans did horrible, despicable things to other Americans just because of how they were born. It didn’t seem fair. To my kid mind I couldn’t understand how you could be that mean to other people. Not only that but why would you sit by and watch as your peers were denied fundamental rights like riding where you wanted to on the bus (again, had to be told that sitting in the back was not like getting to sit in the coveted back seat during field trips), what water fountain to drink out of, getting to vote or where to swim. It is easy to think this, especially standing on this side of history and looking back on events that took place before I was born.
Now I’m standing on a new side of history that closely mirrors the injustices of the 1960’s. We are as a society denying homosexuals rights and freedoms. This fundamentally boils down to Americans oppressing other Americans.
Some of my friends here in liberal Seattle can’t even fathom why anyone would vote against Referendum 74 which would allow same-sex couples in our new state to marry. But I get it, I really do. I grew up in the heart of the Bible Belt where it is preached and known that homosexuality is a sin and a defamation to marriage (small tangent – and there are many great debaters who can refute these points better than I, but my own personal thought is if Jesus died so we didn’t have to follow all the other crazy laws in Leviticus to get into Heaven, why did we pick this one out to harp on?). Where I grew up it’s pervasive and unquestioned that homosexuals are aberrance of nature and a threat to society. These hate filled messages are the worst kind – ones that are cloaked in love and concern. They remind me of the total and complete propaganda that North Korea feeds its own starving people.
For most of my adult life I can’t say it bothered me one way or another. I’m not gay. I have very few openly gay friends. It was not my problem. To be perfectly honest I couldn’t understand what the big deal was.
Then this year I got married. And it was awesome. Standing in front of our friends and family, before God and man, and declaring that Jeff and I were bershert and meant to face this life together.. words can’t describe.
And not only on that day, but in daily moments I’m thankful for our marriage. There is so much more authority in my voice when I call the cable company and say “Yes, my husband is the named account holder, but I need to get the internet fixed now and he’s not here”. Since I’m his wife and not some random girl he’s shacking up with, things get done. No questions asked. Not to mention the ease of joint bank accounts, adding him to my car insurance, joint health saving account, shared health insurance, etc.
Who am I to deny not only the beauty and sanctity of a marriage between two consenting adults but all the social conveniences that accompany it? Life is hard enough – we should not be denying love.
So I am simultaneous glad that I get to vote this week on the issue of gay marriage in Washington state and horrified that it’s even an issue. I voted in North Carolina last spring in support of Amendment One that didn’t even allow gay marriage, only hinted at it. After it failed I’m happy that the Match brought us to Washington state and I got one more chance to stand on the better side of history.
If your religious beliefs are holding you back I urge you to take a good long hard look at some of the Biblical arguments out there and come to some conclusions for yourself. At the very least just remember our God is one of Love.
I can only hope that one day I’ll be helping my kid with their homework and they’ll find this discrimination or any discrimination just as mind boggling as I did back then.