Home » Posts tagged 'marriage equality'

Tag Archives: marriage equality

Love Is Love

My profile picture with the FB celebratepride filter.

My profile picture with the FB celebratepride filter.

I have to say I didn’t get too emotional yesterday with the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision in support of gay marriage. Maybe because I knew it was still only a small step– a very historic step—  but still just a small step towards acceptance and equality in the United States. Perhaps it’s because I’m a little numb from a lifetime of exposure to hate and bigotry. When I was in my late teens and early 20’s, I never thought I’d see this day.

The court’s decision isn’t going to instantly change people’s opinions. Only time will accomplish that.

But then this morning, as I scrolled through my Facebook Newsfeed, something happened. Not only were there a myriad of posts celebrating the landmark decision– friend after friend had also changed their profile pictures, using the celebratepride filter, overlaying the rainbow pride flag over their image. I found myself incredibly moved.

It suddenly became real to me.

Love equals Love. Equality gives way to the very Freedoms we are supposedly all guaranteed in the Constitution. Maybe there is Hope. Maybe Amerika can become America again– or maybe even, for the first time.

Every step we take in this country to remove Hate, opens the door to love and acceptance.

Gay marriage can now just be called marriage. Eventually, Gay pride may become an unnecessary celebration and can give way to American pride. It’s all about Equality. Each and everyone of us equal.

Some of the love being shared on Facebook.

Some of the love being shared on Facebook.

I think it’s important to be consciously aware that the Supreme Court’s decision was not a strike against Christianity. Many people are choosing to take it that way; and I find it extremely sad and nearly pathetic. The fight was never about changing anyone’s religious beliefs; it was the always about equal rights under the law. In ancient times, marriage may have only been strictly viewed as a religious contract– not anymore. There are too many rights under the law regarding married people to maintain that defense.

Love is Love. It transcends gender and race. It is more powerful than contracts, vows or religion.

All we need is time.

An Open Letter To My Biological Family

Dear Family,

First let me say, I love you – unconditionally — more than you’ll ever know.  We have our own unique history and are forever bound together by the miracle of life.  We are all alike and at the same time, quite different in many ways.

I unfriended you all on Facebook for one simple reason: I didn’t like seeing some of the posts you made that I found false, hurtful and unfeeling. I’m not saying you had any intention for that to happen — but it has, repeatedly, especially over the past three months.

We can still view each other’s pages—I did not block you – but I now feel freer to post my thoughts and opinions and you can do the same. If I choose to view your page, it will be a risk I’ll take but I promise I won’t comment on it. I unfriended the kids as well, not that we communicate that often—but out of respect for you as parents and any concerns you might have that I am too controversial or influential.

I have never suggested that you not share your feelings or beliefs—even if they hurt me deeply. I have tried to get you to understand, to verify, and to support (through sources and links) any of your stated ‘facts’ that I have questioned. Instead of defending your comments, you’ve chosen to ignore or delete mine—completely invalidating my concerns.

I’m sorry if I embarrass you—and I only say that because Dad told me in an email recently, that I was “too gay” – I believe intending to mean that he thought I was too publicly open about it.

I cannot help who I am. I know you can’t fully believe that because you think that God would ‘change’ me if I let him, or at the very least, I should abstain from any semblance of what, for me, is a normal life.  I tried that. I hated myself for years because I wasn’t what I was taught God wanted or what you wanted me to be.

For nearly half my life, I lived in a hell on earth trying to be different. I stopped and won’t do it anymore. I am a proud, happy, gay man. The only two things that make us different are that I don’t have children and I share my life with another man—who has loved me unconditionally for over 19 years. (Yes, I know I’m a handful!)

You’ve accused me of being completely blinded by ‘the Obama agenda’ and think that is why I have been upset with all of you. You’ve also accused me of smearing the family name because I have spoken out against what I see as hateful talk. I have been upset because you say you accept me, then vote for a man and a political agenda that will do anything to make sure that I am nothing more than a second-class citizen and not afforded the same rights as you.  I don’t want special rights — just equal rights.

Actions speak louder than words. You have publicly posted and declared your support for businesses and political candidates that oppose my civil rights. I realize there is more to your decisions and probably little has anything to do with human rights issues. When your posts have offended me, I have tried to open up a dialogue with limited success.  I hear your words to me personally… but your actions speak differently.

Why is this so important to me? You brought me up to believe in unconditional love. Doesn’t that also mean you would want to support my equality? This goes beyond me personally—when as many as 1 in 3 LGBT youth attempt suicide and many bullied youth take their own lives as well. The message of love and acceptance couldn’t be more important today. These are young lives that I would think as Christians, you would want to save. Ignoring it, or voting against it, doesn’t make it go away.

I turn 50 next month — maybe that’s why I feel the need to speak out now. Maybe it’s time to communicate after nearly 30 years of silence on the subject. Or, maybe it’s just the right thing to do.

I just ask that you look in your hearts, find the compassion you profess and share that love with others, as you brought me up to believe was right.

I love you,

Jeff

PS– I am posting this publicly, not to embarrass you– but in hopes that it might help someone else going through the same experiences.

Christians: Do You Remember How To Love?

This blog was extremely difficult to write. In a way, it is my response to the recent polarizing Chick-Fil-A controversy and heated religious debate over the 2012 presidential election. My intent in writing this was not meant to be accusatory but instead, a challenge to those that read it. –JL

I have only one question for all the self-identified Christians of the world: “Do you remember how to love?

I was raised on the Christian faith. For most of my first 18 years, if the church doors were open– my family was there. Yet, I was taught to believe interracial dating and marriage were wrong, homosexuality was wrong (it goes without saying that gay marriage was an abomination) and that basically, all other religions and even Christian denominations outside our own — were misguided and most likely would not reach the kingdom of heaven. I was taught Catholics were not true Christians and that the Baptist belief, once saved always saved was a fallacy.

In my late teens, I decided I wanted to change churches and go to my cousins’ church which was charismatic. My Dad was so angered by this decision, he told me I would have to move out if that’s what I chose. So I did. After some thought, he quickly reconsidered and came to the conclusion that as long as I was going to church… it was better than me not going at all and I was allowed to move back in.

Now at the age of 49, I am coming out as Agnostic. I’m not sure what to believe.

From my earliest childhood memories, I was taught to ‘Love one another‘. The Bible verse, one of many that repeat this phrase, comes from John 13:34:

I am giving you a new commandment to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (International Standard Version)

In preparing this blog post, the phrase ‘and the greatest of these is love‘ kept sticking in my head. So I had to look it up. The verse reads:

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, New Living Translation)

I was taught love the doer not the deed. Love the sinner not the sin. That’s Unconditional Love.

But where has it gone?

It is supposed to be the goal of all Christians to not only lead by example but also to witness and bring the hope of Christianity to the whole world. What I’ve seen in my lifetime, is the growing desire to create laws and alienate people that do not subscribe to the same belief system as those of the Christian faith. How is that demonstrating unconditional love? The gay rights movement is not about receiving special benefits above those of others. It is about seeking equality. Equality that is prevented by unnecessary laws created by Christian lawmakers in an effort to secure special rights for themselves and in effect, taking away the rights of others.

Marriage Equality is a legal issue, not a religious one. No one is trying to force churches to recognize, perform or accept marriage ceremonies in religious terms. Laws make marriage a legal contract and give many special benefits to married partners not available to unmarried couples. Tax breaks, issues over property ownership and healthcare are all brought into play. The Christian right campaigns and preaches against marriage equality because they believe it weakens the very definition of marriage and somehow impedes on their rights. It has become a hateful game of morality vs. legality… and exhibits anything but unconditional love.

This might be a good point to remind you that the origins of marriage were actually based on a man’s declaration of ownership of a woman. Marriage was not originally based on a religious contract with God.

The staggering divorce rate in our county is at 60% among those without an expressed religious affiliation but is still a huge 38% among those identified as practicing Christians. Maybe Christians could focus more on counseling and nurturing couples through those difficult times, sharing love and support with those that need guidance, instead of blocking loving partners from legally committing to one another.

The alienation that Christians are creating in the name of protecting their religious beliefs is having a devastating effect on the moral and religious fiber that was once tightly woven into our society. People are being driven away. Hate and fear is replacing love.

Religious Differences. The Religious Right has continued to accuse our President of being Muslim despite his identification as a Christian believer. They see that as a threat and fear that any religion unlike theirs, challenges their existence. Our country protects all religions and provides for their freedom to worship. The Christian proclamation that theirs is the only true religion is yet another example of hate and divisiveness in our country. More than ever, we need unity, compassion and acceptance.

Fear-Based Christianity has replaced the Christianity based on love and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

So where is the love? The saying goes, You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  In that case, why are so many Christians so bitter? If only Christians could return to the basic concept of loving their neighbor instead of fearing them, there might actually be a chance of a Christian resurgence in America.

All  you need is love.