The uncivility of civil rights


Among my family and friends, the same-sex marriage debate has recently hit a couple of boiling points.  As all my friends know I support this and I don’t really get why its an “issue”.  Civil rights, to me, are civil rights.

I’m a newlywed.  My wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life and I literally floated on pink fluffy clouds of love for weeks after the wedding.  Marriage has changed my perspective on many things:  its changed the way I deal with my relationships, my outlook on life.  I think in terms of “we” instead of “I” on most decisions.  I save a message on my phone from months ago with my husband’s voice, just to hear it sometimes.  I am blessed with great friends and a wonderful family, not to mention my daughter for whom the correct superlative has not been invented.  But yet, for the first time in my life, there is someone who has my back in a way I didn’t know was possible.  As they say in the movies, my husband completes me.

So what if he had been she?  Would that make me love her less, or differently?  As the old saying goes, the heart wants what the heart wants and I truly believe that the heart is colorblind and completely unbiased.  How is it possible that people who love each other cannot be together simply because they are the “wrong” sex for each other …. its just not.  Or at least it shouldn’t be.  I just don’t get why people have to miss out on anything – legally, socially, romantically – because they are in a same sex relationship.

I have found that marriage has, to my great surprise, changed things.  I can’t explain how, but perhaps its a new intensity to our relationship, or a real feeling that we have to work through problems, or just knowing he’s there.

When I first began to study yoga, one of the first things I learned was “first, do no harm”.  Keeping same sex marriage illegal is doing harm.  I know there is a side to this issue that would argue well, gay marriage is harmful.  I truly have not seen a cogent argument as to how anyone would be adversely affected by gay marriage.  In fact, I’m going to quote Chris Kluwe here, because he says this far better than I could:

“I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails.”  [Chris Kluwe letter to Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr.] (emphasis mine)

As with most issues, if you pull out a Bible quote that seems to be against gay marriage, I can find one to refute it.  You find me an expert that says gay marriage will ruin the morals of the country, and I would not only find an expert that would say the opposite, but I would point you towards countries where same sex marriage is legal – Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and Sweden – and ask you if brimstone has rained down upon them yet, or if cows and cats were fornicating in the streets.

There is no harm in gay marriage.  There is no harm in people who love one another legally pledging their love  and having it affirmed by miles and miles of red tape.  The hate over this issue scares me.  There are very irrational people (Westboro Baptist Church leaps to mind) whose hate is so vitriolic that its difficult to imagine that their Church is truly accepted by any God.  This is harm.

Speaking of, I don’t  believe in the hell and brimstone God, the one who was writing in a ledger that I lied to my mother about brushing my teeth when I was 6.  I believe that God is much more of a nurturer.   Its humans that are ruining everything.  The precept of “first, do no harm” has been lost to most of us.  Whatever God’s word may have been or whoever/whatever it may have been spoken through – the Bible, the Torah, Buddha, Yahweh – I am just continuously saddened that words of love and support have turned into such hate.

There seem to be no true legal arguments to impede this move forward for civil rights.  The religious aspect of it is far more complicated.  As I’ve grown older I’ve come to believe that religion must be rooted in love and it must celebrate love.  It seems unlikely that so many years of religious dogma will change but we can hope for more and more tolerance.

I like to be optimistic.  I look forward to the day when marriage is just marriage, and not labeled “heterosexual” or ” same sex”.  It wasn’t that long again that a Jewish man couldn’t marry a Catholic woman, an Italian woman could not think about marrying a German man, or that inter-racial marriage was illegal.  Heck, it wasn’t that long ago that women couldn’t vote.  Maybe there was this much hatred surrounding these issues, I have no real way of knowing.

Other than Palm Beach County no one had to approve my marriage.  No one voted on it.  We just went to the Courthouse, got a license, then started a beautiful life.  How can our country deny that right to anyone? A country founded upon diversity, upon religious freedoms and the ability to speak your mind.  First, do no harm.  Let families be families.  Let love be love.  As John Lennon said “all you need is love”. Unless you’re in a same sex relationship, in which case you need the Supreme Court to tell you that you can legalize your love.

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