For pretty much everyone who loves me, yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to legalize my 23-year marriage to Clyde was a day of celebration. Co-workers high-fived me and gave me hugs. Family members sent me loving text messages and Facebook posts. My heart is full.
The ruling also frightened, angered, or troubled a few people I love. This post is mostly for them, and I hope you’ll share it with anyone who felt anything other than joy yesterday.
If yesterday’s legalization of marriage rights causes you fear, uncertainty, or even anger, I’m sorry. As someone whose twenty-three year marriage had no legal recognition in my home state, I know a little bit about living with fear, uncertainty, and anger.
So, because my heart goes out to you, I offer these words of reassurance:
America on June 26, 2015 really isn’t all that different from America on June 25, 2015. For all the wringing of hands, the only real difference in our nation is this: today, a lot more people are free to enjoy the hedonistic pleasures of doing each other’s laundry, filing taxes together, and inheriting each other’s Social Security benefits.
Your religious freedoms are still intact. I know some good-hearted Pentecostal women who don’t think anyone should wear make-up. But the whole point of religious freedom is that these sweet ladies can walk around looking particularly haggard under Wal-Mart’s harsh florescent lights, while their Baptist sisters remain free to smear on way too much Maybelline before sneaking off to the liquor store one county over to buy a bottle of red wine “just to cook with.”
Marriage rights work the same way. If you feel a gay marriage is against your religion, you don’t have to get gay married — but your beliefs shouldn’t limit my choice to be in one.
You retain your freedom of speech. Even though we’ve achieved marriage equality in America, you are still free to take to your pulpit or Facebook page and open up a hot can of Leviticus on my abomination of a marriage. I know this is the case, because some folks have already done so this morning.
Some Christians, though, forget about this guy called Jesus, whose dinners with sinners were so so frequent, the greatest and most respected religious authorities of his day accused him of being one.
So, if you spend so much time with me that your preacher starts to worry that your husband might start styling hair or your wife may develop a passion for wearing just the right toolbelt, you’re probably well-positioned to preach to me. (Though if you try to preach to me while the new episode of Downton Abbey is on, I’ll remind you that your freedom of speech ends where my freedom to watch BBC-America in my own home begins.)
Remember that, despite our differences, I love you. You may spend today fretting about the law not reflecting your faith or politics. I may spend it celebrating our nation’s decision to recognize the love of people just who want to spend their lives together.
But however we spend today, we should remember that our days are valuable because they are fewer in number than we know. Given our limited time together, which makes more sense: holding each other at arm’s length because of our differences … or holding each other close because of the love we share?
Love and peace to you,