This is not a political post. It is a personal one.
I was thinking about it this morning as I was remembering shooting my first Same-Sex Wedding, 3 years ago today. Why do I support Gay Marriage? Why has this issue become so important to me? I’m straight. Why should I even care?
It’s time to be brutally honest. I haven’t always been comfortable with the subject of Gay Marriage. Hell, If I am REALLY honest, I haven’t always been ok with homosexuality. I grew up in the 70s and 80s. Raised by conservative parents during the Reagan era. I lived during a time when we gave no thought to the feelings of gay people. The main reason was I didn’t know a single gay person, or at least I didn’t know I did. I didn’t think about gay issues or what the average gay person had to deal with. That, my friends, was the problem. People were too afraid to be who they were. It was largely unaccepted by society and I never had to think about it. I played a game at recess called “Smear the queer” in the 4th grade. I never even considered the meaning behind the name. We picked a kid, called him “the queer” and everyone tried to tackle him. To me, the game was just a form of “Tag”. I used words like “Fag” to describe a classmate that wasn’t tough. Or said things like “That’s gay!” to describe things that were stupid. Not once thinking about what it meant. I didn’t have a bad opinion of gay people. I didn’t have ANY opinion of gay people. I didn’t know any gay people. At least I didn’t know I did….
I went to a high school with 3,000 other kids. I wasn’t aware of a single openly gay student. I’m not saying there weren’t any. I just wasn’t aware of any. The issue wasn’t an issue at all. I was content living my ignorant, insensitive, straight life. As I got older I began to think for myself. I began to think about the issue that had never been an issue to me before. It was in the news more and more. People that I idolized came out. Freddie Mercury. Rob Halford. Ellen. Even friends from high school came out. It forced me to think. As I was forced to think, I became sad. People I loved had been keeping their lives a secret, endured pain and shame for simply being who they were. For being who they were born to be. It was then I realized that, although I had never treated anyone badly or hated anyone because they were gay, I was complicit in shaming them. I was responsible for hurting them. I owe it to them to be a voice, just one voice, but a voice in support of human dignity. Human rights. I didn’t have to change the way I was thinking, I simply had to START thinking.
When the Gay Marriage “movement” became a widespread issue in the news I asked myself a question, an honest question. Am I ok with it? I considered both sides of the argument and came to the only conclusion I could. Why the hell wouldn’t I be?? Who am I to decide people shouldn’t have the right to marry? Let’s look at the reasons often given against gay marriage:
“It goes against tradition.” or “It goes against the law.” So did the abolition of slavery and allowing women to vote or interracial marriages. Some of these were entered into by prominent religious leaders and historical royalty. Regardless, a tradition of inequality is not a justification for continuing to deny equality. Unjust or outdated traditions or laws need to be removed.
“My religion is against it.” We should all have the freedoms of religion and association and in places like the US, we have separation of church and state, so this can’t be a justification for denying marriage equality or other relationships rights. I am not going to use this page to attack my religious friends. I am simply saying the argument is a personal argument of your faith that has no place in the law.
“It’s not natural.” Actually, yes, it is. Many people have been embarrassed by making this argument, because it is so easy to refute. Homosexuality has been naturally occurring since the dawn of time. But invariably, the person saying that a relationship should not be allowed because they think it is unnatural constantly enjoys things that aren’t natural, from their smart phones to their toiletries to their food to their clothing to their transportation to their housing… on and on it goes. “Hey! You can’t ride a bicycle! It’s not natural!” See how ridiculous that is?
“This will hurt children.” This is usually said by people who themselves hurt children by denying rights to the parents of those children and telling the children that their parents are wrong for loving each other, perpetuating a stigma about the children and their families. Don’t want children of these relationships to be hurt? Then stop hurting their families
There is no evidence of this and numerous studies show that the only harm is from prejudice and a lack of marriage equality.
But the most honest argument is one most straight people are unlikely to admit to…
“It is disgusting.” Also known as the “ick” or “eww” factor, this explains why the person using the argument would not want to enter into the type of relationship or marriage or have the kind sex they want banned, but their own personal disgust is not a justification for preventing other people from doing something those other people want to do. Don’t want to have same-sex marriage? Don’t have one. Some people are disgusted by the idea of heterosexual sex, or their parents having sex, but obviously this is not a justification to ban those things. I find prejudice and bigotry, a lack of marriage equality, disgusting. Meanwhile, the people in these relationships aren’t disgusted. How they love each other should be up to them.
So after considering all of these arguments and many more, I concluded none of them were why I support gay marriage. I am not saying they have no influence on my thinking but I support it because I have witnessed it. I have felt the love between them. It’s palpable. It’s real. And as the popular slogan states…..Love is Love. And I, for one, think this world needs more love. I am committed to teaching my children tolerance, acceptance, and love so they never play a game like “Smear the queer” or call people names without realizing the meaning behind them. I want them to be better than me in every way, but most of all I want them to grow up loving people for who they are.
Please help me to erase hate. Support equality.