Friday, June 23, 2006

My Sister and Gay Marriage

My oldest sister, who will be 48 on July 5th, is an ordained minister.

My sister is the mother of a 22 year old daughter.

My sister holds a Divinity degree, and a Masters Degree in Counseling

My sister is the Pastor of an evangelical church.

My sister is a Lesbian.

I have been thinking about what I should write here about this for a long while now. I decided that I needed to write about this today because I happened to meet a very nice couple this weekend and our discussion about "Gay Marriage" just set me off.

I have a lot to say on this issue (I think), but now that I have started to write, I am still alternating between typing a few furious lines and just staring at the screen, waiting for the words to come.

My sister has been in a committed relationship with her partner, Pam, for several years now, and I think that they have a good, happy relationship. I bless their Union, and I rejoice for their happiness.

I am bothered by the stance that many of my family members have taken regarding my sister's choice of a partner. I am bothered that some of my family members want me to validate their bigotry... to tell them that what they think or feel is ok. Note that no one in my family has broken ties with my sister over this issue. Neither are there large outpourings of anti-gay rhetoric. The problem lies in a certain smug bigotry that is usually reserved for the worst of racists. You know the type, don't you?: "It isn't that I hate black people! After all, I know two black people from work. They are nice people... but, well.... you know what I mean, don't you?" Well, apply the same language, but substitue gay or lesbian for black.

My mother is distantly civil to my sister's partner, my sainted grandmother is as civil as she can be, my dad.... to my sister, he is the worst of the lot.

My father came to visit with us three weekends back, in order to attend my daughter's final soccer game for the season (which we won! YAY!) and while were were haveing breakfast, he told me that he didn't approve of my sister's relationship, nor did he approve of homosexuality in any form. He went on to say that not only did not like it, but he didn't HAVE to like it. I thought for a moment he was going to stomp his foot to drive his point home.

I told my father that as an American of African descent (if you have been reading, you know I dislike hyphenating), I could not, in good conscience, agree to the exclusion of homosexuals from any rights or privileges that flow from being an American. I told him that I don't understand how anyone that was raised during segregation can feel the way he does. I reminded my dad that in my lifetime, my own marriage would have been illegal in the state in which I reside as late as 1963 (my wife, Susan, is white). I asked him if he disapproved of my marriage... and he said that he did not. My dad went on to say that his opposition was based on religious principles. He said that it was biblical that a marriage was between a man and a woman. He went on to tell me that he had nothing against "Civil Unions", but not marriage.

I asked him why he thought that a civil union was different from marriage, when, in the eyes of the law, all "legal" marriages in this country are civil unions. After all, what role does government approval play in your church marriage?. If a minister married a couple that didn't have a piece of paer stamped by some government clerk at the Courthouse, the couple would still be married in the sight of God. If a minister were to refuse to marry a man and a woman because he didn't approve of the match, the couple certainly go to City Hall and be married by a Justice of The Peace... can't they? So why shouldn't gay people be able to do this? It makes me angry when I think about it... it really does.

Look, gay people pay taxes, just like we het'rasexuals do, if a gay couple wants to be joined in marriage, and pay the marriage penalties in their taxes, I am all for it.

If a gay couple want to own a house next to mine, I'm all for it (as long as they are good neighbors... I hate noise and an ugly lawn).

I am bothered by homophobes.

It seems to me that the last "safe" hatreds in this country have been sanctioned by so many people that were formerly (and still are by some) hated for simply being who they are.

How sad.