I watched a movie the other night on the History Channel called The People Speak that reminded me that our country has been changed by its people, the ones brave enough to speak up, over and over again.
It left me wondering if I am brave enough to stand up for something. I came to the conclusion that I may not be because I often question my own opinions-worried that maybe I don’t have all the facts or that what I think might offend.
As a parent, this luke-warm attitude or fear (call it what you will) makes me feel terrible. My job is to teach my children to stand up for what is right, even if it’s hard. I have made a resolution, no matter how hard, to start modeling this for my kids.
A funny series of events has happened in my life recently. In my new state, there was a bill before the Senate about same sex marriage. The weekend before the vote, there were kids standing on the corner of my town with signs asking us to honk if we were “for love”. I saw them walking home from Mass at my Catholic Church (irony or just bad timing?) and really wished I was in a car so I could honk. That same day I went to an open house for a charter school in the town where we live. I sat next to two moms. I felt, literally felt, my heart hurt at the thought that my kid is currently in a school that probably doesn’t have any sets of two moms. Finally, I read an article in Parents magazine about raising equality minded kids. One important idea was to raise your children in a diverse environment and then speak openly about what you value.
These events were like a series of lightening bolts, each stronger than the next. They reminded me that I do feel strongly about something and without question, I know it’s right. I have even gathered the counter arguments and all the information, and still I have not wavered-not for a second. I can no longer be quiet, even if it means I risk hurting people’s feelings or alienating those around me. This is the issue that is too important to risk letting my children watch me stand quietly by.
I believe with every fiber of my being that every citizen of this country deserves equal rights no matter what. I believe we have proven that separate but equal is not equal and I think almost the same falls into equivalent territory. A union is not a marriage. More importantly, a union doesn’t always afford the same and thus equal rights as a marriage. People with a union are not recognized everywhere. They are treated different. Their rights are questioned. They are not seen as equal.
I also believe in the separation of church and state and therefore don’t really understand how equal marriage laws are even a debatable point. Equality and choice are supposed to be what America is about. If your (in this case-my) church does not agree, what does that have to do with state and federal laws? If a union held the same rights as a marriage, thus rendering marriage strictly religious-then the argument might end there. But it doesn’t, not everywhere. So, until the only difference between a union and marriage is religion, then we are still in separate and not equal territory.
I completely support religious leaders speaking out against same sex marriage if they do not believe in it. I am told by my religious leaders that I should not believe in it. I do not think they are bad people. But I do know that while I am a loyal practicing member of their church, I disagree with them and I will reconcile that with my God, if necessary, when my time comes. In the meantime, why is my church telling my government officials what they should do? More importantly, why are my government officials listening?
For the sake of full disclosure, I am not gay. My sister is, but this is not about her. This is about me and my children and what I want them to know for sure, which is this: people are equal and deserve the same rights to pursue happiness. Period.
If you want to argue that this point means people should then be free to pursue murder or robbery or drunk driving if it makes them happy (as some have tried to do) I will smile at you, as I am still not brave enough to openly offend, and I will say that is different. Wholly, entirely different. People should not be given the right to pursue their happiness if in the process they hurt another citizen.
I will ask you, who are homosexuals hurting when they demand equal rights?
Who do they hurt when they want to share life insurance or have the right to handle sick care-without question- for the person they love? You? How?
When a homosexual couple decides their house is full enough of love to take in a child and raise them to, in turn, love with all their heart; is the child hurt? Nope. Are you? Are your kids? I don’t see how.
When a committed homosexual couple buys a house together and takes great care of it do they hurt their neighbors? Nope.
As far as I can see committed people in love hurt no one. They love. They buy houses. They take care of each other when they are sick. They probably argue and fight and struggle and laugh and cry-just like all us other married schmucks out there.Nowhere there do I see hurting. Do you? What I see are human beings, who deserve the same freedoms as I.
Perhaps people don’t agree with the sexual choices of homosexuals. Does that mean they don’t deserve the same rights as you and me? Do we all agree with each others religious or political beliefs? Does that mean we aren’t free to practice them? Perhaps people don’t understand the love that homosexuals share. When did global understanding become a precursor to basic human freedom?
Perhaps people think that homosexual marriage somehow lessens or defiles the institution of marriage.
What about Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock? They got married, in bathing suits on a yacht-champagne glasses in hand. Did that lessen or defile marriage? Thankfully, my marriage was unaffected by their blessedly short union.
The bill that was in the NJ State Legislature contained a piece that allowed religious clergy to deny marrying a same sex couple. The rights of the clergy are protected. I am all for that. They should be free, as we all are, to pursue what they believe in as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. Which it won’t. As long as homosexuals are legally allowed to marry they can find another church, just like all my Catholic friends who wanted to wed outdoors. Church can say no. You can find another church. Equal rights. No one gets hurt. Annoying? Maybe. Arcane? Probably. Hurtful? No.
EVERYONE should have the right to pursue happiness. Everyone should be able to stand for what they believe in.
Including me and my kids. I hope this helps them do that when the time comes.
I hope they don’t have to.
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