Today, the President of the United States has publicly taken a stand in favor of same-sex marriage. NY Times flashed it on my computer screen. NPR aired the news and weighed in on the airwaves. ABC recorded the interview on Good Morning America.
I listened to the news and I can totally relate to the President’s struggles to come to terms with this issue. One the one hand, I was raised a Roman Catholic. I was educated in institutions that espoused kindness, tolerance, and understanding—all very Christian virtues at that! And so, living these ideals has pointed me towards making all efforts to understand people different from me.
When I went to college, I attended a co-ed Jesuit university in Manila. It was considered a more liberal Catholic university. But then, Jesuits were always ahead of their time, as they say. I became friends with many people from all backgrounds. Because of the rigor of our chosen academic pursuit, we spent a lot of time together in and out of the classroom, in the laboratories, at the library, in study groups. The material to be covered was just so vast. It made sense to help one another. I met some of the most remarkable gays and lesbian friends. They were smart, witty, generous and full of empathy. They were no different from me, a straight woman, in aspirations and philosophies. They changed my view of homosexuality completely.
At our Theology of Marriage class, our professor spent a few lectures talking about gays and lesbians. You have to understand, this was in the late 70’s. At that time, homosexuality was taboo in Manila. People did not speak about it in genteel company. And if someone in a family was openly gay, it was considered an embarrassment, a cross to bear, or a liability. And so, when our professor talked about homosexuality as no longer considered by the scientific institutions a disease or condition but rather a conscious choice, preference, or act of volition. Imagine how revolutionary the idea was at that time! I could still see some students in my class squirming.
Fast forward to my days living in Toronto in the late 80’s. One of my uncle’s friends was a family doctor who had a long-term relationship with a designer who specialized in African and Asian art. Theirs was a well-respected and well-accepted same-sex relationship. Or so it seemed. One unfortunate evening, however, the family doctor had a heart attack. Needless to say, he did not make it through the night. What was very surprising was how his family descended upon his assets like wolves on a feeding frenzy over unprotected cubs. The result was a legal battle over properties, bank accounts, vacation homes, etc. The designer lost most of whatever assets he helped build over their more than 15 years together. He had no legal claim, the courts told him. There lies the problems with civil unions.
Canada has come a long way since then. So has Europe, and a host of other first world countries. It’s time the United States came to terms with this issue.
My daughter and her friends have taught me over the years that it’s all right to be tolerant. It makes for a healthier world. Their generation is changing the conversation about gays, about people of color, about the environment. They are continuing the conversation about civil rights, about women’s rights. Theirs is a generation that does not swallow dogma just because it has been handed down through generations or that some pastor or pope says so. Theirs is a generation that questions accepted norms that restrict, that discriminate, that commit a group to lesser opportunity. They have earned my respect and admiration.
I shake my head at the self-righteous lot who quote directly from “their bible.” What is it about this group that they are allowed to cherry-pick passages they want and expand and bend its interpretation to their narrow convictions? Let’s try a few here:
Leviticus 18:22: Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination…
That’s literal. Can it be wrong? Probably. Check these out too:
Leviticus 25:44-46: Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
That’s promoting slavery. And you can buy slaves from outside of your circle or those who are not like you but are temporary (immigrants?). Is this wrong? You betcha!
There’s also a passage whereby anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD will be put to death, or that we are prohibited from eating shellfish, or how we are to slaughter our goats. Why do these not deserve special attention by these self-righteous groups? Or should the relevance to the current climate as influenced by progress in may aspects of our lives lead us to define what has become irrelevant and even inhuman?
The religious who claim holiness need to live and breathe their lectures on life and charity, not use their religion to put forth their prejudices that are born of fear and ignorance. It’s about time they truly emulated Jesus, if they truly adore him. A little humility, kindness and commons sense will go a long way.
- Following Obama’s Lead, Sen. Jack Reed Announces Support For Marriage Equality (thinkprogress.org)
- Obama says same-sex marriage should be legal (sfgate.com)
- Yaaaaaaay!!! (Or: Obama endorses same sex marriage!) (emilylhauserinmyhead.wordpress.com)
- That’s Great Obama… But When Will Gay Marriage Be Legal? (parishgov.wordpress.com)
- Thank you, President Obama! by Feminist Majority (socialactions.net)
- Gay Marriage: Why Obama Couldn’t Wait (newyorker.com)
- Theology Is More Practical than You May Think (naturalspirituality.wordpress.com)