It's been about six weeks since I have written and published anything and apparently it has taken a landmark change in the United States of America law to prompt me to do so.
You might be living under a rock if you haven't yet heard about today's Supreme Court decision ruling that same-sex couples may now legally be married in the United States of America. Whether you agree or disagree with the decision, the fact remains that the ruling is historic and will completely change the way this country operates from this day forward. Tax exemptions, child adoption, the list goes on and on as to how this ruling will impact our American culture.
And with it has already come the haters and the homophobes voicing their opinions on the issue. I have already read one Facebook posting that resulted in me hiding that person from my newsfeed. Not because I don't respect another person's opinion, but because I have no tolerance for bigotry or any type of discussion that uses Jesus Christ and/or religion as a weapon against love. People have a right to their freedom of speech, and I have a right to the freedom of not listening to it, whether it be family, friends, or acquaintances.
When did the right to marry who you love become important to me? I honestly cannot pinpoint an exact moment. I was raised in a very heterosexual, white, middle-class community with no exposure to anyone different than me except my friend Jeanine in elementary school. She was black. That was my first introduction to the fact that not everyone is equal. Jeanine faced obstacles that I have never dealt with and will never have to face.
I went to college at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and all I have to say about that is, thank goodness. It was there where I learned that not every woman is attracted to or loves a man. It was there that I learned that the color of your skin does not make you less than a person, or better than anyone else for that matter. I learned that there are people who genuinely feel like they were born the wrong gender. I also learned through these people that the world is a mean,cruel place at times; much more so than I ever imagined.
Life continued on and I was fortunate enough, in my first nursing job out of college, to meet more people who were different from me, at least in their appearance and sexual orientation. But really, not that different at all. I became good friends with a woman who identified as gay. She invited me into her personal life when we became friends.I met her girlfriend. I still harbored some ignorance as to what it meant to live a lifestyle that was different than the culture I grew up in. I was ignorant as to the struggle of what it meant to fight just to be treated like a human being. I was ignorant to the struggle of discrimination based on the fact that you loved in a way that was not deemed completely acceptable by society.
Fast forward about ten years. This Catholic born and raised woman was looking for a new church home. A home where I could grow spiritually. And, I found it. On my second Sunday morning of trying to find a church home, I walked into a United Church of Christ in my town. I noticed two things: how friendly the person was who greeted me at the door and the petition that sat on a table. The petition was one to support gay marriage.
I thought to myself one thing: I was home. It didn't matter that I was a heterosexual woman. It mattered that I was in a house of God that preached love. That was the kind of church community I wanted to be a part of: one that embraced the teachings of Jesus Christ and the message that he preached. The message of love.
I have, on occasion, had Bible passages thrown at me (especially Leviticus) that supposedly condemn homosexuality. These have been from supposedly well-meaning people who want to save me from myself or from hell. Bible passages that are cited out of context and interpreted literally. The same Bible that condemns disrespectful children (who should be stoned to death), that says eating shrimp is a sin, and so on and so forth. Typically these Bible passages are quoted to me from people living in opposition to scripture passages like Mark 7:20-23 and Galatians 5:19-21. People who claim to be saving us from the sins of the world while justifying using the Bible to commit other sins (remember Westboro Baptist Church??) I have been accused of interpreting the Bible to suit my needs. Well, yes I do! My needs are that of a spiritual life based on acceptance and love:
"Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." ~Romans 13:8
"With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love." ~ Ephesians 4:2
I could go on and on, but I don't need to. Because in my faith, God does not promote discrimination, hatred, or bigotry. He promotes love, tolerance, and kindness. The same love and kindness I witness everyday from my heterosexual and homosexual friends, many of whom are married.
I celebrate today. I celebrate that on this day, people that I love and cherish have been granted their right to legally marry whomever they want. Many of those friends live in Massachusetts; a state that got their act together and legalized gay marriage before this law was passed. But some do not. I think of those friends today because they now have the same rights that I get to live with every single day. Their love and union can now be recognized in the eyes of the law, no matter what state they live in.
Just like it has already been recognized by God.
Author note: I am turning off the commenting feature on this post because I do not want my blog to be a forum for hate and discrimination; or be hurtful to those I care about. If you want to comment, you can start your own blog.