Thursday, May 10, 2012

Things on Thursday: A Soap Box

In the nearly four years I've been writing this blog, I've steered clear of politics and taking sides, not because I'm afraid to speak out but because I rarely have a side. Being in the middle means sitting on the fence, seeing both sides, recognizing valid arguments for both, and reserving judgment.

But there's one issue I'm not on the fence about at all. This week my home state of North Carolina passed a ban on gay marriage.

I am sad right down to my core.

I am sad because sexual orientation isn't a "lifestyle choice." Science shows this clearly and unambiguously. Everyone I've ever known who is gay is simply that. They did NOT wake up one morning and say, "Gee, I'd love to make my life more difficult and really piss off my parents and invite bullies to harrass me, so I guess I'll choose to be gay." Some of them tried to pass themselves off as straight for years, and the effort of pretending to be something they were not nearly killed them.

I am sad because I have friends in North Carolina who have been in committed, same-sex relationships for longer than I've been married (and that's over a quarter century) who have raised children and are raising children and doing a better job of it than some traditional families I know.

I am sad because when government starts instituting bans on private citizens who are not hurting anyone, where will it stop? Churches, of course, have every right to limit who is admitted into the sacrament of marriage--that's what freedom of religion is all about--but does government have the right to say who can and who cannot enter into the civil, legal institution of marriage? I think not.

I am sad because love isn't winning this debate. Where is the love?


  1. So with you and encouraged that Obama took a stand yesterday.

    I read this morning an item that said "If you think obesity is genetic and homosexuality is a choice, no wonder we're in so much trouble".

    And I'm so tired of people judging other people - it's all based in insecurity and fear. Where is the love, indeed.

    Thank you for taking a stand. I'm sure not all your readers will agree with you, but I certainly do.

  2. I agree with you 100%. The Australian Prime Minister has made it very clear that she is opposed to gay marriage and it saddens me greatly. I have some very dear friends in a same sex relationship who are completely committed and dedicated to each other and it makes me so angry that they're denied the right to legally declare that in marriage.

    Beautifully written, Susan.

  3. Amen and thank you. I agree wholeheartedly. And thank you Pres. Obama.

  4. I'm always saddened when I see people throwing themselves into political causes that restrict the rights of their fellow man. All that energy and effort that could have been spent on more worthwhile, humanitarian causes that lift people up and push them forward... Fear seems to be a great motivator, but I wish people could see they don't have to be afraid of love, in all it's forms.

    I got married in 2005 and considered postponing until my homosexual friends could enjoy the same legal protections. I didn't have to though, because the state we lived in (MA) and the province we were married in (ON) beat us to the punch. And unlike the detractors claims, those legal changes made my heterosexual marriage feel more secure and fair than it might have otherwise.

  5. Thank you, Susan. Beautifully said. I hurt for all my same sex couple friends. as Colorado played political games in order not to deal with it.

    Any Divine Presence that would make it so people would be unhappy for life is not for me.

    Just my .02

  6. I completely agree with you and what other commenters have said.

  7. Thank you all for taking time to comment.

  8. Hear! Hear! I'm usually riding the fence like you, Susan, but not on this issue. The whole thing is so stupid. Why do narrow minds have such big mouths?

    God, too, is asking, where is the love?

  9. Kudos for writing this, Susan. We actually have two nieces that are in same sex relationships. The narrow minded people that shoot eye-daggers at them when we take them to dinner makes me so angry. The one couple is raising a little girl, and doing such a wonderful job. Ooops, I'm off the track - sorry! Thanks for standing up for our friends and family, and God Bless President Obama for being man enough to risk re-election to do so....

  10. So eloquently put, Susan. And right now, I'm ashamed to call myself a Tarheel.

  11. Susan, thank you for writing this, for as long as i can remember i have been petrified to what a certain group in my life would think about me if they knew, which to be honest is silly, cause if they didn't know I was gay then they must be blind and deaf.
    but to know a member of my family that i have looked up to since i was playing with shemya and discussing who RAB in harry potter makes me so happy.

    this really warms my heart, i can only hope that a the heads of the family on the other side of the rocky mountains will be as accepting as you are.

    loveyou AuntSusan.

  12. E, you are loved and accepted. More than you know.

  13. You have stated your feelings so eloquently -- and I agree 100%! My husband and I actually left a church whose community we truly appreciated because of this issue. We just did not want our children to be taught to treat others as second class citizens. We are now Unitarian Universalists -- quite a switch from Mennonite -- but it feels right to be somewhere that preaches and practices equality for all.

    It's still hard to stand up and speak out in rural Ohio, tho...

  14. Great post! and Kudos to your friends and family that commented. Some of the comments brought tears to my eyes.

  15. I so appreciated what your wrote, Susan, and the other comments. I have struggled with being a Christian when some Christian groups get politically angry and think everyone, even in government, should believe as they do. Your other essays have helped me in many ways, actually, I didn't think the difference between "civil union" and marriage mattered, until my beloved brother and his fantastic partner of 20 years, were legally married in August of '08 (that narrow window when it was legal in Cakifornia.) I wept with joy at being able to call my brother-in-law that, a legally recognized member of my family, because he has done more to help my family than one could expect any mortal to do!

  16. I just wanted to add my 2 cents to the growing pile and say YES! I'm not even American, but when I read about Obama making this huge statement I cheered. It's sad that it will come at a political risk, because really, how can more love be a bad thing? I wish people would worry more about true problems like hunger.

  17. Absolutely with you Susan, whatever happened to live and let live? I hope that if my daughter came to me and said she was gay, I wouldn't make life any harder for her and reject her decision. This statement shouldn't be causing such comment, it should just be.

  18. "Gee, I'd love to make my life more difficult and really piss off my parents and invite bullies to harrass me, so I guess I'll choose to be gay."

    I so whole heartedly agree with this statement. Who would CHOOSE to be gay.

    I am happy that my brother in law and his partner are Californians; they seem to be just a little open minded out there. And I'm glad they found each other.

    I read your column; and sooo many times you are reading my mind! I cannot believe how much we have in common. I too am a fence sitter.

    I really try to give both sides the benefit of the doubt. I have such a hard time with politics. Neither side ever makes me very happy.

  19. Beautifully written, Susan, and I agree with what you and all the other posters have said! I had struggled with the issue of gay marriage for quite some time, mostly because of my husband's staunch stand AGAINST it. Our church, too, struggled with this issue for many years, only recently (<2 years ago) voting to become an Open and Affirming (ONA) congregation. (ONA is the designation for congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the United Church of Christ which make public statements of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.) This decision shook my husband to the core, and he left the church. As a result of this vote, very little has actually changed within the church ... there has not been an influx of homosexuals, there have been no gay marriages performed in our Meeting House (although several have been conducted elsewhere by our ministers), and you see no same-sex couples kissing during our time of passing of the peace. The biggest change is that we have become a stronger, more loving and open congregation, and it saddens me that my husband's heart can be so closed on the matter of love. He even went so far to say that if one of our sons ever told us they were gay, he wouldn't allow it. Truly heartbreaking. LOL, maybe that's why our own marriage is in such shambles and we're headed for divorce! Thank you, Susan!

  20. I usually steer clear of commenting on political matters online, too, but this issue is just so important that I make an exception. I am hopeful that the tide will turn completely and all couples will have the right to marry in every state in the country. President Obama's statement was a brave and awesome step in the right direction.

  21. Thank you for this post Susan. Unfortunately, it looks like Minnesota is heading down this same heartbreaking path. It will be on our ballots in November. There are currently 515 statutes in Minnesota that discriminate against same sex couples. Even if couples are willing to go to the expense of obtaining legal counsel, most of the rights and responsibilities automatically provided to married couples cannot be replicated by signing legal documents or contracts. That’s the law. 515 statutes. My beloved friends are not asking for "special" rights, they are asking for "equal" rights.

  22. Well said. I especially like this statement: "Churches, of course, have every right to limit who is admitted into the sacrament of marriage--that's what freedom of religion is all about--but does government have the right to say who can and who cannot enter into the civil, legal institution of marriage? I think not."

  23. I'm Buddhist and I asked the highest official here in the USA what the stand was on gay marriages in the Buddhist church.
    In a nutshell this is what he said.
    "The Buddha did not write or speak of gay marriages or relationships. So in keeping with our views, any two adults who go into marriage with all the commitment to be a family, then yes we would allow marriage ceremonies to be preformed to same sex couples. Currently it is against the law here in CA so we can't not."

  24. Hurrah, Susan, for stepping outside your comfort zone by addressing this issue.

    I, too, have friends in a same-sex relationship and I love them dearly. One is the director of music in our church. Now talk about a wide-open church to accept someone like that in a leadership role. We dearly love this man and just dare anyone to say/do anything against him.

    It amazes me that there are people who will dislike someone just because they choose the lifestyle they have.

    I'm a summer visitor to NC and am saddened by how the state has voted.

    I think it's interesting that none of your commentors have been on the other side of this issue :> Have a wonderful week and keep on posting thought-provoking issues.

  25. Maybe I will be that dissenting voice.

    The Bible clearly states that a man shall leave his mother and father and be joined to his wife. Paul in the letters said that leaders in the church should be the husband of one wife. A few days ago I read "Never confuse the will of the majority with the will of God."

    I don't have a problem with same-sex couples having a civil union or partnership but it is not what God designed marriage to be so should not be called marriage.

    In Australia same-sex couples have the same rights as de facto couples.

    In California one of the poster couples of ssm divorced very soon after gaining the right to marriage so there are no guarantees that it will ssms will be any more successful than traditional marriage.

    Having said all that I know I am a sinner because of some of the things I do or don't do (sins of omission) and am no better than those who are caught up in sexual sin.

  26. Well said, Susan!

    In my home state of Connecticut, same sex marriage has been law for a few years already and, in my capacity of JP, I have officiated at several same gender marriages. Let no one, and I mean, no one, tear asunder those whom God, yes, God!, has joined together in heart, soul, and spirit.

    I would never dare speak for God. The best I can do is trust that the One who is Love itself, embraces all who love honestly, honorably,and faithfully. I am devout sojourner on the Christian path, warts and all, and it grieves me beyond all things when people limit God's love and acceptance.

    Part of what I learned in seminary is that the Bible was compiled at a time when Christians were striving to identify who they were, and who they were not. Books were included in the Canon as much to keep certain factions out, as to keep others in. I believe in Scripture as inspired, but not inerrant, and I certainly do not believe it should ever be used as a weapon of prejudice which, tragically, it often is.

    We will all face God and be judged for what we did/did not do in our lives, for the love we gave or withheld, and whether we had the courage and faithfulness to let God be God and thus refrain from declaring who among us is destined for heaven and who for other eternal destinies.

    Thanks be to God from Whom all love and blessings eternally flow!

  27. This is such a well written post, that I feel I need to comment and thank you for saying what I believe. I am proud that I am raising my daughters to be open minded, and our temple is very welcoming to gay and lesbian couples, even encouraging us to support the rights of those who need our support. I was happy that President Obama took a stand, and look forward to the day that any two people who are in love and committed to each other can get married in any state.

  28. Susan, this was a wonderful post. As someone with close gay friends, I'm grateful to live in Canada where gay marriage is legal. It was also an interesting post to read from the point of view of only knowing people in cyber space. I came to this blog because of your card-making blog and have often wondered where you stand on issues like this. It is so easy to make assumptions about people - for example, your faith and church are such large parts of your life (unlike for my life - I am more privately spiritual than publicly religious or church-going) that I often wondered, if I were to meet you in person, would we have such huge differences of opinion on social and political issues that we would not be able to know each other? I find I am guilty of equating religious / church-going Americans with rigid views on social issues such as homosexuality - so your post was a very important wake-up call for me to not jump to such conclusions. Thank you so much!


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!