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The Highest Love
“Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
I recall an image from the civil rights movement of an angry white woman shouting furiously at a young black girl as the girl walked past (to attend a court-ordered integrated school). I imagine the young girl was extremely brave and frightened in the face of such vocal hatred. I also recall the images of black students sitting at a restaurant counter while angry white mobs shouted profanities and dumped beverages and food on the peaceful protestors.
I mention all this because it is easy in hindsight to recognize how destructive hatred, bigotry, and discrimination can be toward people we love. But I wonder, with groups currently facing such hatred, if we are doing enough to speak up? If you have a sister, brother, cousin, aunt, uncle, parent, son, daughter, or friend who is gay, have you asked that person how you might help?
As someone who recently married, I understand how privileged I am to have a wedding and ceremony in my church and to have all the legal benefits that go with marriage. We simply added “spouse” to the various employer, insurance, bank, property, and tax forms in order to integrate our household and receive legal recognition of our union. Perhaps more importantly, we had the blessings of our friends, family, and religious/spiritual communities. Anyone who is in a committed relationship likely understands that during rough times, the support of friends and family is vital and can help pull you through.
If two adults love each other and are committed to the relationship and are of sound mind, they should be able to marry. Gender, skin color, ethnic background, and religious beliefs are not reasons to make the marriage unlawful. To discriminate in our laws is wrong. The laws no longer say a black man or black woman cannot marry a white person. Likewise, the gender of the individuals getting married is irrelevant.
If the religious, political, or social organizations to which you belong practice discrimination, then your spiritual inner-knowing and your God call on you to speak up. We must evolve—as individuals and as religious communities. We must move beyond fear, hate, and oppression and learn to embrace love, kindness, and compassion. It is unjust to segregate certain individuals from the privileges of society because of fear. Living a spiritual life requires us to make difficult choices and to give voice to those who are oppressed and those who are suffering.
The highest love is to do for others as you would want done for you. If you were fortunate enough to have love in your life, then you are blessed. That is a worthy wish for others: the option of legally sanctifying that love, regardless of gender.
In joy & gratitude,
It is so affirming to me that you say this. For a long time I just couldn’t understand why my parents, who professed not to care that I was gay, who loved me like crazy, and who were always very kind to my partners, still did nothing to “help” by educating the members of their church, or their friends or anyone else. It left me feeling like they were only acting like it was okay, and they were secretly ashamed.
When they finally did start “helping” I was so moved, I still cry when I think about it. I know people can only be what they can be, and honestly, that’s okay, but it is so cool when someone speaks up.
It was just three years ago or so when I went to a friend from high schools’ wedding. After the wedding the preacher asked everyone who was married to come into the center of the reception room and stand around the bride and groom. In this small West Virginia town nearly everyone got up and went to the center of the room, leaving me, the friend who had come with me, Kelly, a few kids and a sparse handful of older people. I felt very uneasy immediately. The preacher then went on to speak to all the married people about how they had to help this newly married couple, be their support, show them the way. The he started going off about how marriage was under attack, and how good and decent people had to band together to keep it sacred, keep the forces of evil from destroying it. I was just sitting there stunned, so hurt that I could hardly move. I knew who he was talking about, my people, GLBT people, were the forces of evil attacking marriage. Tears filled my eyes. I wanted to walk out of the room and drive home. But Kelly had driven me, and I didn’t want to ruin my friend Ken’s special day, as that asshole preacher had just ruined mine. So I just sat there. Nobody, Kelly’s family who was all there, nor my friend Ken, ever apologized or even made mention of this to either one of us. So it was such a beautiful thing for me at your wedding when I heard the part you guys put in about people who couldn’t get married. I thought it was so considerate and kind of you two to say that. It helped me put that crap I had to sit through at Ken’s wedding behind me.
I also remember back in 1993 at the March on Washington there was a mom and dad, about sixty years old, with PFLAG signs standing in the crowd. One after another all day long gay people would come up to them, some crying, some with big smiles, all thanking them profusely for being there, and one after another this couple gave each of them a hug and told them they were loved. It was so moving.
So what you are saying here is important. It’s not up to us. There’s not enough of us to make the changes needed. Change happens only when everyone else starts acting like it’s important. So what you wrote needs to be said and I am so thankful to know someone who has taken the time to say it so eloquently.
Diana, thank you for your words, for your courage and wisdom, and writing brilliance. This encourages me to be more vocal in and about my life, and love, and rights.
Well said Diana!We all need to do more to change old obscure laws