So back on September 4th, during the whirlwind of stories coming out of the Conventions, I posted a brief rant decrying the platforming of people. If Y’all have heard me say it once you’ve heard me say it a gazillion times – I am not an issue. Well from that little post came a few wonderful comments and one evolved into a fuller conversation that I would like to share with you here.
This comes from my new friend Hilary who, because of our blog here, I have the good fortune to be getting to know better. Here’s what I know about her so far – she lives in Minnesota. She has a degree in biology and chemisty, two cats, and likes Harry Potter, LOTR, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Beatles. Her hobbies include cooking, crocheting, reading, daydreaming, and lurking around theology websites. She has lived with her wife Penny for nine years. And she is a deeply thinking, compassionate person with a clear drive for justice
Please welcome Hilary to the blog and share your thoughts and questions regarding her reflection below.
What struck me most reading the different party platforms on marriage was not just the difference of opinion, but the stark contrast in the language used to describe their respective positions. The Republican position was from a place of fear, and the Democratic position was from a place of confidence. The Republican language was of being under terrible attack, describing a horrible threat to the very fabric of civilization. The fear that if the ‘Other’ becomes your equal, then you are somehow less equal. There was no room for a straight, married person to look at a gay person who wants to be legally married and say. “Your equality does not threaten mine – I don’t have to be afraid of you.”
The Democratic position was one that embraced equality between different types of families without fear. A straight married man could look a gay married man in the eye and say, “Before the law we can both protect our families, and your equality does not threaten mine. I am no less a man and husband for you being a man and husband.” There is even room to respect disagreement without fear, where the platform clearly states that no religious institution would be forced to officiate any type of marriage ceremony against their beliefs. This is the confidence and strength that does not need fear.
Sometimes I wish I could sit down with [the fearful kind of people] someplace safe for both of us and ask, “What are you so afraid of?” Do they really think that if our families are legally equal to theirs, it will somehow cause their spouses to leave, their kids to become meth heads, water to turn into blood? Are they afraid that they will be tied down to the chairs and be forced to participate in a same sex wedding? No rabbi has ever been forced to marry a mixed-faith couple, no catholic priest to remarry a person who’s been through a divorce, no baptist minister legally bound to marry an atheist couple. Do they think that there is a limited amount of marriage rights in the world, and if they have to share then there will be less for them?
I’ve read in some opinion pieces that conservative straight people are afraid that their marriage will be less valuable, somehow mean less to them if they have to ‘share’ marriage with gays. I’m sorry, but your feelings of being ‘less-then’ if you have to share legal marriage rights are not the moral equivalent to me not being able to legally protect my family when life gets hard. Don’t tell me that I can get the same legal protection through other means, unless you know how to put not-legally family onto social security, or convince your company to provide health insurance to ‘just a room mate.’ Besides, if I can maintain my marital relationship without legal help, what does that say about you being worried your marriage is threatened just by having to do share the legal rights, privileges and responsibilities?
I’ve wondered if what they are really afraid of is being proven wrong. With so much money, blood, sweat and tears invested in drawing a line in the sand around straight marriage, what will happen if/when gay marriage becomes the legal law of the land and the sky doesn’t fall, or straight families don’t fall apart any more then they do already? If they get proven wrong about this then what else could they be wrong about? This is already becoming evident in the general culture when people outside the Conservative Christian subculture* hear what that they have to say about gay people, then look at their gay friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family, scratch their heads and go ‘what are you talking about? I know people like that and they are nothing like what you describe, why are you maligning them?’ It makes it that much harder to believe or respect the rest of that subculture’s message.
*Please note I said people outside the American Conservative Evangelical Christian subculture. They =/= all of Christianity and I have a lot of respect for liberal/progressive side of the faith, UCC especially.
Are they afraid that if their children grow up next to a legally married gay couple who are just as loving and normal as their own family, then the message of “God hates it when people live together like that” will cause such cognitive dissonance that it will undermine their kids belief in Christianity all together?
I’m not sure where it is in the New Testament, but I have come across it on various Christian blogs and posts: “Perfect love casts out all fear.” I think that’s the best thing we got going for ourselves.