In an earlier post I mentioned how I thought, at one time in my younger life I knew a lot. I thought I had opinions that were intelligent and well thought out. I thought my parents never knew what they were talking about. I considered myself a fine, upstanding conservative with a belief system set on a foundation of Christian values.
Now, there are some things that have not changed. For example, I still believe that I have opinions that are intelligent and well thought out (my friends may not always agree, but hey, its my opinion). There are a lot of things that have changed, though. One of these things I have learned: My parents actually do know what they are talking about. I remember as, a young man, Father started attending Toast Masters. For those unfamiliar with Toast Masters (and I hope I am explaining this correctly), it is a group that meets for the purpose of becoming better public speakers. As Father started attending this group his prowess at public speaking became evident, and I started getting a better understanding of my father as he expressed his opinions rather eloquently.
Now, maybe I was making an ass-sumption based on the fact that Father was in law enforcement. After all, anyone who knows anything about law enforcement, should know that these people tend to be fairly conservative in their beliefs. So perhaps I simply ass-sumed that Father was as well. And perhaps he was to some degree. As I said, I learned a lot about him over time and my general opinion of Father changed. I can say that I learned a lot from him. Sadly, I don't know that I can produce and memorable quotes that might one day end up on an inspirational calendar. I can, however, tell you I have learned from him a lot about being a decent human being, for which I am grateful.
Now I, myself, work in law enforcement. And still, people in this profession tend to be fairly conservative in their views. I respect that. It is their right to practice and believe as they see fit. What I have found over the last 10 years is that my opinions and beliefs are generally at odds with the majority of people I know. I am pretty sure it is because most of my values and beliefs are actually fairly liberal. This tends to leave me out of most conversations at work that involve politics (although I imagine I could go visit with the folks who work in our Mental Health department, I think we would get along just fine). And having stayed out of these conversations, I have held my tongue on more than a few occasions when I would have loved to bark at more than a few people.
There are two types of people here where I work. There are those I work with and those I work around. Those I work with are generally educated and have a belief system I can attribute to life experience, an actual education, and some sort of faith in a higher power. Those I work around, on the other hand, are generally uneducated. They have a belief system based on hate and a self serving purpose that benefits no one but themselves. So those I work around I simply ignore. I guess they have a right to believe what they want. However, I don't generally respect these opinions and simply write them off as uneducated, bigoted and simply wrong. Those I work with I have to respect, for the reasons listed previously. It is difficult for me, though, when my opinion is not respected in turn.
I was part of a conversation the other day I could not avoid. The question was posed, referring to Prop 8 (boo! hiss!), "They can do anything they want to. What can't they do that they can't do already?" So I answered back, "Can they get married?" After which, I was rebutted with something and I tuned the conversation out. I don't care to argue with my friends. Generally, we all get along and we simply leave some topics unspoken.
So now I have been stewing over the this subject for the last couple of days, and clearly I need to get it all out.
Since when do we let one person be persecuted by another in the name of religion? I am pretty sure were a group of people in another country persecuted and discriminated against by another group of people we would be up in arms claiming our high standards of tolerance and compassion should be an example to all. Bullshit.
Our standards of tolerance and compassion clearly only go so far. Apparently it is perfectly ok to enact legislation that sets a group of people apart, as "different," and make it so said legislation can keeps them apart as "different." Again, I say Bullshit.
In 1957, Little Rock, Arkansas was a hot bed of activity because 9 African Americans were going to start attending the Little Rock Central High School. In fear of this drastic change, the Governor of Arkansas actually had the school surrounded by National Guard troops in an effort to stop the integration. Eventually, they were removed by order of the federal court and replaced by the United States Army in order to provide protection for those 9 students. And so, 9 high school students made history by simply attending school. I would like to think that we, as a people in this country, have made a lot of progress since then. In many areas, we certainly have. For example, we don't see the National Guard surrounding the White House. In fact, we see that the overall vote in America has voted for our first African American president and many people celebrated in the streets at the confirmation of the President-Elect. Good for us.
Sadly, as I said before, our ideas of tolerance and acceptance apparently only go so far. Does the idea of a man and man being legally married scare us so bad that we enact legislation to legally discriminate against them? I suppose there are those that would argue against this, but I don't see it any other way. I have tried. I really have. But I can't see it any other way. We have made a legal discrimination. We might as well start putting up signs over water fountains that read "straight" and "gay." After all, we wouldn't want any straight people getting "the aids" from a dirty fountain, would we? The intolerance and ignorance of this issue astounds me.
Religions around the country have poured millions of dollars into a campaign to make this discrimination legal. I don't know that anyone can deny that this whole proposition is based on the biblical definition of marriage as being between man and wife. I don't understand why it is we are letting religion influence our government. We have changed our state constitution to reflect a religious intolerance. Have we actually taken a 232 year step backwards? I don't claim to be a historian, but I'm pretty sure one of the things that was firmly decided when the Continental Congress convened, was the separation of church and state. The Church of England ruled American government with an iron fist. We wanted to get away from that. I don't deny that there are many references to religion in the documents that were forged to "form a more perfect Union," there were many people there who were religious and good people. But that isn't the argument here. The argument here is our union has become less perfect.
Again, we have made legal a discrimination based on people that others see as "different." We might as well be surrounding churches that are happy to perform gay and lesbian marriages with armed troops because we are scared we might be affected, as straight people, in a negative manner.
I know people who were personally effected by this proposition. They are good and fine people. They don't deserve to be told that, although they love each other, are committed to each other and have been for years, they can't be married. I would urge anyone with a differing opinion to look someone in the eye and tell them they can not be happy because you view it as different and wrong. Don't look at them as a person of a different religion, that doesn't matter. Don't look at them as a person who lives an alternative lifestyle. Look at them as they are, human beings. Tell these human beings you refuse to allow them to be happy, and that you prefer to rate them as less than normal because of their difference from your own life. Now our friends have been told all these things, but lucky for you were able to hide behind the curtain of a voting booth.
So in conclusion, I say this: If you believe that as a man or a woman, marrying a person of the same sex is wrong, then simply don't do it. Is there a need (other than a religious need) to enact a legislation in order to force this opinion on others? Not as far as I know.
To those who I know who were hurt by this, I am truly sorry. I support you. I can't say that I always have been supportive, and of that I am ashamed. However, I can say that for a long time I have been supportive, I always will be, and of that I am proud.