Sunday, December 19, 2010

Don't ask, don't tell ....

Passed! Finally, gay people can serve in the military openly. A first important step towards equality for those who are gay. And the first concrete step to society combatting the social inequality and non-acceptance that fuels the bullying of children and their suicide.

I found out the other day that my nephew Philip would not vote for gay marriage because the Catholic church does not support it. He would  vote to disallow this for others. His preference was civil unions, feeling that was enough. I said, sitting in the back of the bus was supposed to be enough, after all you got to ride the bus.

I understand the importance of separation of church and state. It is inconsistent with freedom to have the church involved in laws; the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is compromised without separation. Phil's position shows this as he would sacrifice someone else's liberty because of his religion.

For a diverse group of people to co-exist, freedom of others to live differently than us is paramount.

Tolerance is the only option for freedom. My nephew believes that because the Catholic church does not recognize or condone gay marriage, that he should not. But he is wrong. It is the Catholic's church's role to layout the rules for living a christian life, for which he has the choice to adhere to, not to dictate it for all. And the Catholic church preaches tolerance.

He blatantly, if not openly, commits adultery and is setting up his life to continue to do so, and yet that is one of the ten commandments ... so I will ask him why? and I suspect his answer is that he loved her ... which is why gay people want marriage. I suspect the truth behind his objection to gay marriage, isn't the church's law, but his own discomfort and revulsion to the idea. Possibly it is blind compliance but that doesn't completely make sense to me. He breaks the commandments by willingly engaging in adultery.

Freedom is often difficult to support when it is contrary to what our beliefs about god tell us is right, but more often, that is a merely a smokescreen for what really drives us to limit the freedom of others; that is our discomfort and distaste with having what we wish to prohibit visibly around us.

This is my email to Phil:
Now that Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been repealed that you are happier not be in the Navy anymore? ;)
One of the Ten Commandments says "Thou shalt not commit adultery," not to mention the one about coveting your neighbor's wife ... yet you are choosing to not only to commit adultery, but to arrange your life so as to be able to continue to do so. I don't agree with you about this, but I do want you to be happy and so I honestly wish you well. 
In light of this personal choice, I ask you, how can you claim that it is because the church tells you gay marriage is wrong, that you will not support it? Doesn't the church tell you adultery is wrong too? Consider that your argument against gay marriage (ie not willing to support it) to be more about your discomfort and distaste for that lifestyle and therefore not having thought it through. Your position is similar to that of those who watch someone being bullied and justify their non-action as not being a bully. 
Freedom for minorities does not happen unless enough of those in the majority stand up and fight it. Bullying stops when people stand up against those bullying. Jesus forgave the prostitute, not because he was advocating prostitution, but because he was advocating forgiveness. The reason for supporting gay marriage is not because you advocate it, but because you advocate freedom and equality.
I don't know where you stand on freedom. I do agree that the Catholic church has the right and duty to tell its followers how to live a good life and that can rightfully include not to sanctify gay marriage as valid. But I also know that choice is fundamental to the Catholic ideology as is forgiveness and redemption. You cannot have choice without freedom. It is not inconsistent to support the freedom of others who choose a lifestyle different from yours and be a devoted Catholic ... On the other hand, I don't know how you get around adultery.
I am not idealistic enough (actually a pragmatic pessimist is my style) to expect you to have changed your mind. After all, two wrongs do not make a right. But I have to ask you ... why do you allow yourself to commit adultery still? And I have to assume the answer is love. And then I would ask you ... why gay marriage ... answer is the same ... they want love, and family, and freedom, and equality. You would not want it to be illegal for you to engage in an adulterous relationship. That is ultimately between you and god ... and so it should be for gay people. It should not be a matter of secular law.
So perhaps you can better understand how I see supporting gay marriage law as a matter of freedom and not about agreement with that lifestyle. And it is critical to the well-being of children and to decrease the bullying. I don't think you can ever stop hate or intolerance, but you can limit it. Laws can support freedom when people don't.
Just something to think about. 
Love you, Auntie Leslie 
This is the follow up to our extensive interaction on facebook chat, where I slowly extracted his position on gay marriage. It is not in his nature to be confronted or confront others directly. But then he has me to push that about him. I didn't think about the adultery contradiction at the time ... so he gets this by email. He is the only person who fully understands how things are for me. He has been very generous. It is out of love for him and for freedom that I confront him and ask him to question his own thinking. In the end, I don't think he is likely to change his position, which is sad to me, but I would not be honest or loving or serious about my stand for freedom if I were not to at least ask him to consider it thoroughly.

I used to think they way he does, that it should be enough to have equal tax laws and civil unions. Because I saw it as a confronting the Catholic (among others) sacrament which came before the country took on marriage as a legal entity. I saw both sides of the issue and wondered why not a compromise. But when I watched Ellen interact with John McCain ... I saw how it was not ok to accept the compromise. Being able to ride the bus, but having to sit in the back of it, is just not enough. I wish I could remember what she said that made the connection for me. It was what she said and how she said it, that made me feel what it is like to be lesser than others. I have never personally connected to what "the pursuit of happiness" means. But at some point I got the importance of it .. it's not about being happy .. but having the the freedom and equality to pursue the life and dreams you want.

The principles on which our country was based are extraordinary. Many think it is the extremists/terrorists that pose the real threat to our freedom. They pose a threat of physical harm to people. They also flame intolerance. The real and only threat to our freedom is ourselves, our intolerance for those living differently to coexist equally with us peacefully. It is not the fear itself that is our weakness, but how we react to it. When we react by becoming intolerant (of all muslims for example), then we chip away at our foundation of equality and freedom for all.

Those who are intolerant are most fearful of tolerance, not of those whom they shun or wish to eradicate.

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speaking to a universe without ears