Thursday, July 22, 2004

A wise man once told me, "Resist the urge to write letters to the editor." But I live in Missouri, where the bigots have managed to get an anti-gay marriage amendment onto the ballot, and the thought that it might pass has me sick to my stomach. I'm a realist, and I know that Missouri's not going to recognize gay marriage for at least a decade or so, if then. But it's the right thing to do, and I'm confident we'll get there eventually. Enshrining the current benighted state of our state in the constitution is just going to make it harder for us to do the right thing when the time comes.

Besides, I love this state and don't want to see us institutionalizing bigotry any more than we already have. Leave that to Mississippi.

Unfortunately, the religious right thrives on this bizarre notion that they're a besieged minority, and bumper stickers, marches, etc. just fan the flames. What, then, is a way of expressing my opposition that stands a chance of changing someone's mind? Here's what I came up with. I'll let you know if the Tribune prints it:

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Anytime I hear someone condemn the sinfullness of "the homosexual lifestyle", I think of a church organist I used to know. All he asked was to be able to express his love of God through music, and for fifteen years he did just that for a small Baptist church, until one day someone asked him if he was gay. It wasn't the first time he'd been asked, but he'd been praying on the topic lately and had decided that the next time he was asked, he'd give an honest, simple aswer, "Yes." Within three days, he was out of a job.

At the time, I was on the board of a church that was looking for a music director, and we counted ourselves blessed to find a replacement with so much love, joy and spirit to give. Over the next few years, I had the honor of watching a soul bloom.

Think about your husband, or your wife, and how much their love and support means to you. Now imagine keeping that love secret from the people you sing God's praises with for fifteen years because you know they'll reject you if you told the truth. That's what our organist faced, and the look on his face the first time he introduced his partner (of more than ten years!) to the congregation was like sun hitting a stained glass window after fifteen years of cloudy days.

The church I attended as a child taught me that God is love, and sang songs about letting your light shine. Now they have a "Special Announcement" at the top of their web page saying, "Help Protect Marriage!" I suppose it's possible that they're right that two people of the same gender wanting to stand up at the front of a church and swear to love, honor and cherish one another is an affront to God. But for me to believe that, I'd have to forget most of what they taught me about God, and everything I know about love.

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