Sunday, October 14, 2012

Same sex marriage: it's more than sex

Living in a city that embraces most of your overall values is refreshing, wonderful and generally awesome. But recently I realized it has made me complacent.  

I literally live in the gayest neighborhood in Seattle. In a gay friendly city, it’s the gay welcoming committee. People who date people of the same sex are such an integral part of my daily life, seeing them together is as natural to me as seeing the rain fall.

Here in Seattle, the “battle” has already been won. It’s a tolerant city.  So it has been easy for me to forget that there are many other places that aren’t. I realize that it has only been a year and a half since I left the most intolerant part of the Northwest, but being immersed in such a gay accepting culture makes it that much easier to forget that not only are there bigots everywhere, there are ignorant bigots.

In fact, I have a man from Spokane to thank for my wake-up call. During my recent visit, a friend of a friend reminded me of just how far most people have to go. Normally I’d never discuss sensitive issues with people I barely know, but someone was asking me about Seattle and Capitol Hill’s gay friendly nature. The guy (who I will call “Red” because he had a red shirt on and a sunburn) listened to me talk before he opened his big red mouth.

“Being gay is a choice,” Red declared.

I laughed. I thought he was kidding. After all, people don’t really think that anymore, do they? Everyone knows by now that homosexuality is found in nearly all species of animals and some people are just born gay, right? Surely people know that before you can form an opinion on something you have to get the facts?
It turns out that, no, not everyone knows. Red used completely asinine logic in his defense, likening people’s human born attraction to personal preference.

“It’s a choice, you know,” he said. “Because, like, I would rather sleep with you than a 300 pound woman. That’s a choice. Like gay sex.”


Of course, I could have shut down his argument in approximately four minute using things like facts, logic and science. I wouldn’t have even had to try. But I lived in that filthy cesspool of backwards thinking for six years. I know better. Besides, I was pretty drunk and I wouldn’t have fought fair. Instead,  we just agreed that others’ homosexuality had nothing to do with us personally, and we left it at that.

Here in Washington, we’ll have a chance to make history in a few weeks. Referendum 74’s passing will legalize same sex unions once and for all. It has been backed by numerous businesses, church pastors, Republicans and other brave souls who have dared to go against what society expects.

I have never been “against” homosexuality… even as a teenager, sitting in the church pews and listening to pastors spew to love the sinner, hate the sin, I knew in my heart that the well-meaning pastors, not me, were misguided and there’s nothing “sinful” about love in any form. Love is pure, after all. So I have never needed convincing on this. But I do understand how difficult it is to vote for something you might personally be against. I do it nearly every time I vote, as every candidate out there represents issues that I strongly disapprove of. But I don’t vote because of the way I personally live my life. And neither should you.

The fact is, every single argument against gay marriage can be destroyed with logic. This amazing lawyer does it here.

Any religious argument is, of course, completely invalid due to that pesky thing called “separation of church and state.” It’s also highly illogical and downright hypocritical. People have the right to believe what they want to believe and love who they want to love. It’s that simple.

So why isn’t it that simple? I have been shocked at some of the things I’ve heard. People are so misinformed, and I don’t know where they’re getting their information or why they’d want to ignore the cold hard facts.

To set the record straight: legalizing same sex marriage will not legalize incest. It will not lead to people marrying animals. It will not “re-invent” marriage, nor will it in any way harm straight marriage. No church will be forced to perform same sex marriage, and believing that they will be is asinine. That’s illegal. I personally can’t get married in a Catholic church or a Mormon temple. That’s the church’s right.

What legalizing same sex marriage will do is grant every couple the rights they deserve and, no, cannot be given through a simple domestic partnership. It will allow the partners to do things only spouses can, like inherit estates and make medical decisions (and if you think domestic partnerships allow this, think again). It will literally bring families together. Some of these couples have children. Some people are all about "family values” and promote marriage, yet overlook the fact that they’re denying children the stability they claim is so important for their development.

But all that aside, legalizing same sex marriage is the right thing to do because it is what is morally, ethically and logically right. We simply do not have the authority or the right to tell two people who genuinely love each other that they cannot get married. Denying them this right is literally making them second class citizens, implying their love is not genuine.

And since I do live in this gloriously gay-friendly city and have witnessed it firsthand throughout my life, I can attest to it being genuine. I have stopped saying things like “what people do in their own bedrooms behind closed doors is none of my business” because I feel that it reduces homosexuality to just sex. It’s so much more. It’s pure, passionate, and beautiful. It’s just as real as any other love, and it deserves to be recognized as a part of our society.

I am blurring their faces here because I did not ask their permission to post it, but this picture represents one of the sweetest love stories I have ever seen unfold. I have watched these two women fall in love from a distance, and even from a distance, it is so amazing and powerful. They are best friends who support each other and mean the world to each other. I see the way one makes excuses to walk by the other’s desk at work just so she can catch a glimpse the other. I see the way they look at each other. I have heard them sing the most adorable duets that would melt the heart of the world’s biggest homophobe. And when I hear people say unkind things about their kind of love, it breaks my heart, because these people have no idea how amazing it is and no clue how ignorant they are.

If I seem like this is personal to me… well, it is. And no, I am not going to leave my Mr. W and go running off with one of my ladies (though no one who has met my friends would blame me). In 2009, I got ordained online so that I could marry my best friend to her wonderful husband. I have since performed two more weddings for people I love dearly. And this year, two lovely ladies who are in my large adopted family asked me to marry them next summer. They have been together for seven years and I have loved watching their relationship grow.

I think these two ladies will have a great marriage, and it would be an absolute honor to perform the ceremony and have it be legally recognized. Our parents (or grandparents) fought for interracial marriage, and it’s now considered asinine that it was ever illegal. Let’s do the same thing for same sex marriage. Let’s show the next generation we stood up to an injustice.

You don’t have to rush out and marry a person of the same sex. You don’t even have to personally agree with it. But what every single straight person needs to do is realize that it doesn’t affect them, and they do not have the right to encourage society to remain stagnant in its progress.  

 I’m not complacent anymore. I am asking my Washington friends to please vote Yes on Ref  74. Even you, Red.
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