As a kid, I didn’t know the first thing about gay people. I’m not sure I even knew there were gay people. The subject never came up, perhaps because people weren’t supposed to mention such things, but I had no idea there was such a thing as a homosexual person or that there was a “lifestyle” known as LGBT.
It didn’t really come up in high school either. Or college. I mean, I’m sure it did, but not on my radar. The most likely reason why is that I was oblivious and just didn’t notice, but I can’t recall ever thinking about anyone’s preference, or even that there might be different preferences, or whether it mattered.
It wasn’t until I moved to Atlanta, and started working at a very large corporation at which several of my colleagues were gay and lesbian, that I stopped being oblivious and starting knowing people who loved the same way I do with the only difference being that their love and affection is aimed at members of a difference audience than mine is.
If you don’t know a gay person, or at least you don’t think you do, maybe you have concerns. You may believe they do things or behave in ways that you can’t understand and with which you are uncomfortable. When you don’t know something or haven’t had the experience of being around someone, I guess your head can fill with all sorts of ideas. I can tell you that I know lots of gay and lesbian people, and they’re as much my friends as any other friends. And I respect them as much and love them as much and would trust them with my children as much.
And I would trust them with marriage as much.
I like to think I know a little something about marriage, since this month I was very happy to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary with my husband. (TWENTIETH!!!) Marriage is a partnership. It’s a commitment to take on life together. There’s nothing magical about it; there’s no happy ever after. It’s work, and there are many ups and downs, and if you are lucky enough to have a deep and abiding love for each other underneath the fights and different ways of thinking, and if you hang on when it’s really worth it to hang on, and if when the need arises you are both willing to come to the table to work things out, and if you know how to forgive, and if you really want and hope for the best for your spouse, then you’ve got a marriage.
My husband is my best friend, and I say that with all seriousness. Sometimes he drives me batty. Sometimes I don’t understand him or his approach to something and I just want to wring his neck. All the time, when something exciting has happened, or when I’m heartbroken, or when I want advice, he’s the first person I think to call. I’m thrilled we created two amazing and beautiful children together. I really love this guy, whether I’m in the midst of not liking him or thinking he’s the closest thing to the perfect dude. And you can take everything I just said and apply it to how he feels about me as well, because I’m nothing short of a pain in the ass and yet he’s still by my side after two decades. We married and we love each other, and we’re hoping to be lucky enough to have another twenty, and maybe more.
I have gay friends who have relationships that are just like mine. I think they should be able to be married. I think their children should have parents who are able to receive the same benefits as my husband and myself, when it comes to things like insurance and taxes and whatever else. If you believe differently, I don’t hate you. I don’t believe in shutting down people for having different beliefs than mine, and I hope you feel the same.
Still, some of you may respond, well you must not believe in God, Katherine, if you support gay marriage. And I will respond, that’s not true. I’m a Christian. My understanding of Jesus is centered squarely on love and acceptance of people, including gays and lesbians, and that’s the only understanding I’m ever going to have so no need to quote any Bible passages to me.
Others might say, well you must be a liberal, Katherine. Wrong on that account as well. I’m actually a very moderate conservative (yes, I said it, so those of you in the habit of doing so can go ahead and consider me among the evil and uncaring conservatives of the world) who believes in gay marriage (yes, I said it, so those of you in the habit of doing so can go ahead and consider me among the ridiculous and useless Republicans In Name Only of the world).
I thought long and hard about writing this, not because I’m afraid of saying I support gay marriage but because I like to stay out of politics. I have tried very hard not to out my political beliefs in social media, mainly because so many people CAN’T WAIT to then take that opportunity to make assumptions about what you believe, cross you off the list, leave you out of the conversation, put boxes and boundaries around their vision of you and so forth. Especially in my world, when it turns out you’re a conservative, even a moderate one. I despise that in a way I can’t begin to describe.
But today, when the Supreme Court is reviewing laws related to gay marriage, I feel strongly about saying something out loud and unequivocal to support my friends. Not every Christian is against gay marriage. Not every conservative is against gay marriage. I love my gay friends, I support them a billion percent, and I hope that someday soon they will have the same rights as my husband and I do. Some day they will be able to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary, as I just have, and celebrate a partnership, a lifetime lived together, that is recognized by all.
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