many internal debates...with much soul-searching regarding the
ways in which my state...this place which I have called home for
the last nearly-30 years continues to respond to what was good
news on October 11 for so many. I speak, of course, of the
judgment handed down in the U.S District Court by Justice Max
Coburn that Amendment One, passed last spring, banning same-
sex marriages, was unconstitutional.
The soul-searching has come, not because I disagree. Quite the
contrary. I was among those overjoyed by this step... quite a giant
step...toward justice and equality for all people in North Carolina.
The soul-searching has come as I have wrestled with how to respond
in a loving, caring, Christian way to those who clearly do not agree...
to those who find the possibility of same-sex couples marrying a
threat of sorts, be it to their biblical understanding or their moral
principles or- I'm not sure what.
And I confess to being more than a little bit confused by it all,
by the furor and recriminations and the brouhaha. You see, I have
a number of good and dear gay and lesbian friends, most of whom
are in committed, long-term relationships which feed and enrich
the lives of those of us who know and love them. The question of how
these loving, caring, beautiful relationships could pose a threat to
anyone- especially to those in healthy heterosexual marriages- is
a total mystery to me. For me- as for so many of my friends- the
entire issue is one of justice, not morality. Indeed, the thought
that some consider it okay, even commendable, to deny equal
rights to anyone is morally reprehensible to me.
There have been so many battles over rights in this nation of ours,
struggles against inequality: struggles to overcome the widely-held
notion that blacks could be enslaved by whites because of their
"inferiority", because they weren't really "human"...and then, once
free, to overcome the belief by some that black men lacked the
mental capacity to vote; the struggle by women to overcome the
idea- actually expressed in repressive and restrictive laws- that
they were the property of men and did not have the intelligence
or emotional stability to be able to vote- the right to which they
obtained only after long struggle in 1920. Our national history is
marked by the blood, sweat, and tears of so many who have held
the belief that "ALL people are created equal"... which seems to
have a familiar ring...
And today, I am struggling still, to come to terms with how I
respond- as a pastor, as a woman, as a human being- to those who
are, at this very moment, attempting to have Judge Coburn's
ruling overturned...those who express horror and disgust at the
thought that their gay neighbor, their lesbian co-worker, might
desire the love and support of another human being, might want
the same rights and privileges granted to those of us who
happen to be heterosexual.
I guess this is my best response at this moment in time:
People, fellow citizens, fellow travelers on this road of life,
the journey is a difficult one at the best of times, which means,
I think, that we all need each other. We ALL NEED EACH OTHER,
regardless of- well, anything. If you believe- as I surely and fully
do- that we are ALL children of the same loving, creator God,
why in the world would you want to deny the rights of any other
human being? What about equal rights harms you? And why in
the world do you suppose that some people should be more
"equal" than others?
Oh, and just one more thing which keeps rattling around in the
personal brainpan: Have you ever considered that, by keeping us
focused on matters which rouse lots and lots of emotions, like
same-sex marriage and abortion, the powers-that-be can turn
our attention away from the numbers of homeless children in
this country or the amount of money being spent on the military
or the lack of any constructive legislation being passed by this
most dreadful do-nothing Congress or the overwhelming amount
of student debt or the truly shocking amount of money being
spent on elections?
Brothers, sisters, we're all in this together, like it or not. You
can disagree with me about many things- after all, I tend toward
the liberal side of things, both politically and religiously. But I
have long considered myself a follower of the exceedingly-
liberal one who called us to feed the poor and clothe the naked,
to welcome the stranger and visit the lonely and sick and those
imprisoned, to love our neighbor- AND our enemy. He was the
one who insisted that those of us with two coats should give
one away, that we should turn the other cheek, that we should
treat others as we want to be treated. He was the one who
touched the untouchables and treated women with respect and
gloried in the value of children in a culture which did none of
these. And I just don't know how to do it any differently...