So the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8.
Somehow, I can't seem to get too excited about it. Sure, it's a setback for marriage equality, but so what? Those two words roll off my tongue with the flavor of inevitability; not quite there, but close. Almost all of New England has adopted it. Iowa, for God's sake, has adopted it. Every time a new state gets it, it's harder to take it away. And 18,000 same-sex couples in California are still married.
How absurd is that?
Not only that, but the demographics of this country are changing. I participate in occasional LGBT panels at the university, and at a recent panel on media for a journalism class, the students were asked how many of them had a gay friend or family member. Every single one of them raised their hand. Granted, the University of Oregon is no bastion of conservatism, but still – the Young Republicans is still a viable organization on campus.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "Am I not destroying my enemies, when I make friends of them?"
I love that quote. When I destroy my enemy by making him my friend, I also destroy my enemy's enemy. We both win.
Obtaining marriage equality for the nation is a matter of time. It's a matter of being out and proud. And it's a matter of civil discourse. I signed onto BRO's campaign to repeal Measure 36 here in Oregon, and fully intend to do all I can to move marriage equality forward.
I intend to be mindful about how I do it, though. The folks who voted for Prop. 8 and Measure 36 are our neighbors. The votes they cast were acts of conscience, fear, and/or ignorance; they were not, for the most part, acts of bigotry. Many of these votes were cast because the people who did it honestly believe that they are protecting their own family; that gay marriage really would somehow – spiritually, I guess – damage or destroy society. These are the acts of people motivated by love – and, I believe, in most cases, perhaps all, fear.
So I would ask that we speak to the opponents of marriage equality with respect. That we honor their dedication to their children, and to the code that they hold dear. That we honor their conscience, and their right to vote according to it. I would also ask that we do not motivate our actions out of fear, or anger, but love. I would ask that we do not take their words out of context, or lie. We do not need to lie; ours is an ethical and honest position. Leave the lies to them. And make no expectation that befriending them will change their minds. We have no hope of changing votes of conscience; and votes of fear or ignorance will fall by the wayside as we demonstrate to those who are ignorant of us our love, our respect, our compassion, and our integrity – as we ensure that our neighbors and family members know us, and know our lives.
I would like for us to stop throwing words like "bigotry" around. Let's recognize the integrity of those who are compassionate yet opposed to us because they rely on a certain reading of ancient wisdom texts to direct their moral consciences, and reserve "bigot" for genuine acts of violence that are directed at our persons, or intended to intimidate: rhetoric such as that thrown around by Fred Phelps, and the acts of violence that all too often harm us and our children.
To that end, I have entered conversations via this blog that have led to befriending an evangelical Christian, and may perhaps do the same with a Mormon mom, who shares with me a passion for homeschooling. They will continue to vote their conscience, and to pray for me, for they truly believe that that is their best gift. It probably is, and I appreciate it. If nothing else, when their children see them praying for a queer friend by name, the kids may think twice about bullying the queer kid on the schoolyard. And I have gifts to give to them, which I hope they are open to receive.
Their minds will not change. But that's not the point.
The point is to destroy our enemies – and theirs.
I believe we can do it.
If we all do it together, perhaps we can end the intolerance that leads to violence, and live side-by-side in peace.