I’m about to say something pretty unpopular (among those likely to be reading this): People who vote against marriage equality are human. We should love. They deserve respect, kindness, patience and graciousness.
I’m not saying they deserve it because of how they vote. They don’t. It is not because of any action that such things are deserved.
All humans deserve respect, kindness, patience and graciousness simply for being human. And in the case of everyone I know well, they deserve it in spite of certain things.
Here’s what I really want to say. The reason I support marriage equality is because I support humans. I think it is cruel and dehumanizing when people are disallowed to marry someone they love, when they are told their identity is faulty and evil, when they are told they are lying about their identity, when they are ridiculed and belittled and marginalized and barred from equal civil rights, when people turn a blind eye to the bullying and threats presented against.
So when I feel angry at the people instigating these cruelties, I want to belittle and dehumanize right back. Sometimes it feels good. But I don’t think it is ever right. And more than that, I don’t think it is ever helpful.
I say this because I used to be one of them.
I grew up in the church and in high school became very serious about my beliefs. I wanted to be good, I wanted to obey God and listen to my conscience and uphold the Bible. I argued in my politics classes against marriage equality. I wrote essays on how refusing marriage equality was constitutional. I laughed at jokes about ‘plumbing’ and pitied people who had been “deceived into living a sinful lifestyle”.
But I changed my mind.
It wasn’t because anyone called me a bigot. In fact, no one ever did. Yes, I had disagreements and arguments, but I wasn’t called names, never felt belittled.
When I went to university I wanted to study the Bible more. I took a degree in Theology. I learned a lot. I actually read the Bible. I listened long and hard to what my conscience had to tell me. And I changed my mind. I discovered that humanness matters; humanness is a big deal; humanness is a state of being that deserves respect, kindness, patience and graciousness. It was no longer the sanctity of marriage I felt compelled to uphold, but the sanctity of humans.
When I see things like North Carolina’s overwhelming disapproval of marriage equality, I feel anger, despair, confusion.
And then I remember myself.
Ten years ago I would have cheered. I would have thanked God. If I still believed that way, today I would have gone to twitter to take smug satisfaction from all the angry people calling me a bigot, proud of myself for believing something despite being ridiculed.
This is the person I have to see in the 61% of voters who disallowed marriage equality. It’s harder to hate them when I see my own face looking back. It’s harder to think I can change their minds with anger, with righteousness, with indignation.
And it’s harder to believe there is no hope.
The fight to uphold the sanctity of humans is not over yet.
(I know the vote has caused pain to many people, and the pain and anger need an outlet. I do not mean to say that anyone feeling anger and pain must hold in their feelings or ignore them. I hope and pray that all people distressed by the vote have someone, or even many people, whom they can turn to for comfort and hope. My comments here are regarding the general approach to public discourse.)