On April 16, I was part of a rally at City Hall, and one of a multitude of people who testified in support of a non-binding resolution in support of marriage equality. Despite record numbers in attendance at the meeting, the measure was tabled by the council.
As a liberal, Christian activist, I’ve presented my share of what I believe to be reasonable, logical arguments in support of full-person legal status for LGBT persons, and arguments as to why I think conservative dogmas about homosexuality are wrong both ethically and scripturally.
Too often, Christians have taken the wrong side on these great conflicts of society. Some — though by no means all — American Christian leaders and institutions supported slavery, were opposed to women’s rights and voting, and civil rights for African-Americans. One would easily be forgiven for thinking these more right-leaning Christians have repeatedly come out on the wrong side of history.
Personally, I think that’s a cycle of behavior that wastes a lot of our time and energy, and doesn’t get the church anywhere. I also believe it doesn’t have to be this way; I think the church can and has been a positive force for great social betterment. In fact, I don’t doubt the church will embrace same-sex marriage, as it has embraced abolition of slavery, women’s rights, civil rights and more. It’s a matter of time, though that might be little comfort to those still waiting for the church to catch up to the rest of society.
I now know many fearless Christian leaders in Eastern Washington taking a stand for equality. I’d like to see even more support for gay marriage from people of faith in my community. I’ll share with you some of my personal reasons for supporting marriage equality, in the hopes that some of it may resonate with you:
It makes me feel good! I’ve known I was straight since I was very young. Sexuality is one of the most powerful, compelling forces in not only human nature, but in all living things that walk, crawl, fly, or swim. And it’s not very cut and dry. Homosexuality and bisexuality is present in many kinds of animals, and has been around in humans since as long as we were writing about ourselves, in every culture. It’s a natural phenomenon, not a learned behavior, and the science agrees.
I’ve also known from an early age how powerful discrimination can be. My mother grew up in the Jim Crow South. She told me about black people having to use separate restrooms and drinking fountains, and yes, restrictions on whom they could marry. It didn’t take me long to realize that “separate but equal” was being applied to gay people in our modern day. At that young age, it made me angry.
When my wife and I were married, we could enjoy the warmth and acceptance of the community that celebrates the blessing and joy of our relationship. I’m sure the experience of gay couples is no less joyful, satisfying and loving than my own marriage to my wife. And yet, they cannot be celebrated in most of America like straight couples can, and if they happen to be Christians, many in the church call their relationship an abomination! I can’t fathom the pain of life this must cause. Too often, our culture reduces gay people to a stereotype of sex, and forgets about the warmth and affection of true love.
To help others share in the joy that I have, makes me feel happy — much happier, I am supposing, than working to deny that joy to others. Simply from the emotional reward I get from gay rights activism, and seeing the powerful impact it has on real human beings, I know that I am doing something worthwhile.
It strengthens families. Marriage is not just a public and private celebration of love and life together. In our country, it is also a set of legal rights. Hospital visitation, protection of children and child custody rights, and estate law are all unique privileges conferred upon
Domestic civil partnerships, often offered to gay couples as a substitute for marriage, are not recognized in all states or by the federal government. They do not confer all legal protections and privileges of marriage that straight couples enjoy. To protect children and families, marriage needs to be applied equally.
It’s doing unto others, as I would have others do unto me. I try very hard to practice in my own life this core teaching of Jesus (Matthew 7:12). If my human rights were ever in question by society, I would want someone to stand up for me. The only way we can make this happen in our society is when we take an active role in helping others first.
It’s not wrong to be gay. I have no moral issue, as a Christian, supporting and celebrating my LGBT brothers and sisters in Christ. I do not think six Bible verses is enough to build a theology on, and those who attempt to do so, find much to ignore or gloss over in the scriptures. In light of that, and with the great opposition and discrimination being practiced in our society today, I am compelled to get off my couch, get on the street, write blogs, get in City Hall, and make phone calls to my elected representatives in support of equal rights for all people (hint: Do this also!).
I wasn’t always an activist for gay rights. But when I made the choice to become one, the good feeling was overwhelming. It felt cleansing to be a part of working against intolerance and working towards compassion, understanding and empathy. It just feels good. It feels like I’m doing what Jesus taught us to do: Love my neighbors as myself.
Want to chat or get involved yourself? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or see me on facebook.com/samuelfletcherlives