Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tolerance in Texas

Last week voters in my state passed a ban on same sex marriages, but it did not pass with my vote. I almost forgot to vote, but I did, with thirty minutes to spare. There were nine constitutional amendments on the ballot, eight of which I knew nothing about. The only reason I voted was to vote against the ban on gay marriage. Although I was pretty certain the ban would pass I was still hopeful my fellow Texans would surprise me and vote with a compassionate heart and an open mind. Unfortunately that did not happen and for the first time in my life I am a little embarrassed and slightly ashamed to be Texan.

My strong conviction that same sex couples should be allowed the same rights as heterosexual couples has nothing to do with my personal orientation, as I am married to a man and hopefully will be with him the rest of my days. However, I will admit I am bi-curious and am attracted to women, but am quite inexperienced in relationships, both physical and emotional, with other women. Furthermore, my stand on the issue goes against my Southern Baptist upbringing and the beliefs of most of my family, friends, and community, most of whom would probably be surprised I felt strongly enough to go out and vote against it. Perhaps I should start vocalizing my opinion on the matter more, starting in my own circle. It may not do any good but then again it might, as I can be quite persuasive when I feel strongly about something. More importantly, there are two openly gay women among my friends and family that you would think everyone would have rallied support for and gone out en mass to vote against the ban. But, as I explained my upbringing, it is not suprising my friends and family are not so open and understanding of the lesbians amongst us, choosing rather to ignore their sexual orientation or view it as a phase. This, is to me, sadly unfair. I would like to think I will not be so close minded and ashamed if one of my children realizes they are gay. I pray they are happy, healthy, and successful, whether it be in a traditional relationship or same sex partnership. Naturally, I would prefer and worry less if my daughters brought home a stable, supportive, successful woman that loves them over an abusive, lazy, unloving man. Same thing goes for my son. My only concern would be the increased hardship such a relationship would bring them from an ignorant, judgmental, uncompassionate, and homophobic society.

Beyond that, I question the reasoning and intelligence behind such a ban. Do people really think that by discriminating against same sex unions and depriving them of legal recognition, that homosexuality will cease to exist? Homosexuality has been around as long as homosapiens and has survived far less tolerant times than these. History has proven how absurd and completely futile it is to think discrimination, persecution, and denial will cure anything viewed as defective human behavior or beliefs. Knowing this, as surely as we all must, society's continued denial of the feelings and basic rights of gays and lesbians is nothing more than spiteful meanness, childish as well as fruitless. Not to mention that it is not our call to make. My God is a loving, just, and tolerant God and I cannot bring myself to believe he would condone such intolerance. And He teaches 'Thall shall not Judge', leaving no doubt it is not our place to pass judgment on one another.

As far as our nation has come in the last century it is still obvious we have a lot further to go. I remain hopeful, however, that mankind will come around and one day same sex couples will be able to marry in all states, file taxes jointly as married, be on each others health plans, and collect widowers death benefits for one another, and not be afraid to disclose their sexual orientation for any reason. It was only a few decades ago that Rosa Parks infamously refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, thus starting a racial revolution that eventually brought equality to all races. That battle took years and I'm sure this one will too, but the fact that the issue even made it to a vote means the fight has already come a long way. In the grand scheme of things, aren't there far worse things in the world that we should concentrate on eradicating, such as hunger, poverty, illiteracy, drug abuse, and cancer? Think about it, pray about it, then do something about it, one compassionately more tolerant soul at a time.

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