Monday, November 10, 2008

If you judge people you have no time to love them. ~Mother Teresa

I live in a state that on election night voted to pass a constitutional amendment saying that marriage is only between a man and a woman. It was amazing to me that I could be so happy and sad on one night. I was thrilled to see Obama become our president elect. In the same moment watching the polling results come across for Prop 8 I felt heart sick and ashamed of my state. It has been about 2 weeks since election night and I still feel confused and dismayed at the behavior of the majority. I do not understand why it was so easy for people to happily discriminate against another. No one I know would dream of putting something on their lawn that was against marriage between Blacks and Whites, or Jews and Christians, but many people I know were proud to put Yes on 8 signs in their yards. The other thing that boggled my mind was the number of minority groups that were Yes on 8. In my Pollyanna world I see people who have experienced discrimination fighting the hardest to make sure it doesn't happen to someone else. But then I remember that people have a need to feel better about themselves that usually comes by bringing someone down.

I am not going to argue religion or faith when it comes to this topic. I fully understand that the majority of churches would not marry a gay or lesbian couple. That is an argument between you and your God. You don't believe the marriage rights of gay and lesbian people? The answer is easy. Don't marry someone of your same gender. But you should not have the right to impose your belief on someone else. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere." I choose not to be a part of this injustice. I want to be able to look at my friends and my family and know I stood on the side of justice.


instigator said...

Hi Megs,
I'm sure it's no surprise to you that I disagree. I still don't feel like i'm discriminating against gays. It truly hurts me to think that gay people are thinking religious people hate them. Absolutely NOT the case with me or the people i know. It makes me sooo sad.
I just simply think that gay couples do have rights but marriage is between a man and a woman. I don't see how my belief is hate. It's more something I believe in my heart.
I am happy that this has been kicked out in the open because i do respect your opinion so much and i do hope that you will always feel you can talk and share openly with me whatever you feel, and that i can openly share with you what i feel. It would make me sick if you felt that was coming across as hate. That's just the polar opposite of what I feel for you. I think you are an absolute love and i'm not sure God made any people nicer or better than you. Please help me to understand.
I think we all have a right to vote how we feel- both ways....I feel way more passionate against Barack Obama's position against life.....that is truly scary to me. Who is thinking about the babies rights to life?

I'm anxious to hear your thoughts.

with love,

Lorelai said...

To be clear what I feel coming from you is never hate. I think it is important for everyone to follow their beliefs.

I do think the commercials on prop 8 were hateful and they sought to demonize gay people. That to me is inexcusible because they did not seek to educate but to put fear in people.

I have dreamt of being married, and I want to find the right man just like all my favorites did (yourself and Carl included). For me (and I speak only for myself) I can't tell someone else that the love that God put in their hearts is less than mine. And I feel like that is what prop 8 does.

I am glad you posted and shared your views. And I can't wait to see you on the coast. Are you ready for the turkey extravaganza?

Anonymous said...

i'm embarrassed (or proud) to say i did not see any of the commercials on tv. As far as I could tell, this was about "rights". I think gays have "rights". As far as marriage goes, it's a Sacrament. I think that's why most marriages fail is because it's looked at as a "wedding". Not a lifetime commitment as a Sacrament.

I think it's so very sad what this has turned into. I actually do feel that religious people are being painted into narrow minded bigots by the same people that are accusing us of that.

Your thoughts?

Lorelai said...

In response to anonymous, thanks for your reply. My goodness this is the busiest my blog has ever been.

For me this is a fight about rights. I fully understand that most churches will not allow people who are lesbian or gay to marry even if it is legal. Heck the Catholic church won't even marry two Catholic people unless a lot of steps are taken, so I am not trying to fight a religous battle.

I think that gay people should be entitled to the same rights as any other married couple and right now under domestic partnerships they don't have equal rights. If you don't want gay people to take your word "marriage", then fight to make domestic partnerships equal (both financially and regarding the laws about adoption).

I saw a cartoon in a magazine the other day that said it all for me. There were two water fountains; a nice shiny one with a sign that said "straight" and an old crappy one that said "gay." Domestic partnerships are not "seperate but equal" not matter what people say. Until someone is done to give gay men and women equal rights than I will continue to agrue the cause.

amy said...

I really like this article....he explains my feelings on this way more eloquently than i ever could.


Proposition 8 on November’s ballot added fourteen words to the Constitution of the State of California: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” In the weeks since the adoption of this amendment the media have carried many speculations about the role of the Catholic bishops in California, and about my role in particular, in the passage of this proposition. It is my wish to clarify here what was done and why it was done, and offer some thoughts about the way forward amid so many misunderstandings and hard feelings.

Five years before my appointment as Archbishop of San Francisco, in the year 2000, Proposition 22 was placed on the California ballot. This statute, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, passed with 61% of the vote. On May 15th of this year, the California State Supreme Court declared that statute unconstitutional and legalized same-sex marriage in California. Around the same time, Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment qualified for the ballot.

The Catholic bishops of California, organized as the California Catholic Conference, and speaking through their office of public policy in Sacramento, endorsed Proposition 8 and urged Catholics, and organizations of lay Catholics, to work for its passage, by means of grass roots activity and contributions from their resources. We bishops also endorsed Proposition 4, regarding parental notification of a minor child’s intended abortion (defeated at the polls) and we opposed Proposition 6, a “tough on crime” initiative inconsistent with the principles of restorative justice (defeated).

The Archdiocese of San Francisco did not donate or transfer any Archdiocesan funds to the campaign in favor of Proposition 8. As far as I know, that is also true of other Catholic dioceses in California. The Archdiocese did pay, and appropriately disclose, printing and distribution of flyers to parishes.

Last May the staff of the Conference office informed me that leaders and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) had given their support to the campaign for Proposition 22 in the year 2000, and were already considering an involvement in connection with Proposition 8. Accordingly, I was asked to contact leaders of the LDS Church whom I had come to know during my eleven years as Bishop of Salt Lake City, to ask them to cooperate again, in this election cycle. I did write to them and they urged the members of their Church, especially those in California, to become involved.

It is important to point out here that a wide range of churches became active in favor of Proposition 8: in addition to Catholics and LDS members, evangelical Protestant churches and churches with many African-American members joined the effort, and, among the Orthodox churches, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of San Francisco and three other Orthodox bishops signed and published a joint statement in favor of Proposition 8.

That is what was done. Why was it done? Some voices in the wider community declare that there could be only one motive: hatred, prejudice and bigotry against gays, along with a determination to discriminate against them and deny them their civil rights. That is not so. The churches that worked in favor of Proposition 8 did so because of their belief that the traditional understanding and definition of marriage is in need of defense and support, and not in need of being re-designed or re-configured.

Some of our opponents respond with this question: Even if these churches saw the California State Supreme Court decision in May as damaging to the institution of marriage as they understood and valued it, shouldn’t they have kept quiet and stayed on the sidelines? Some would say that, in light of the separation of church and state, churches should remain silent about any political matter. However, religious leaders in America have the constitutional right to speak out on issues of public policy. Catholic bishops, specifically, also have a responsibility to teach the faith, and our beliefs about marriage and family are part of this faith.

Indeed, to insist that citizens be silent about their religious beliefs when they are participating in the public square is to go against the constant American political tradition. Such a gag order would have silenced many abolitionists in the nineteenth century and many civil rights advocates in the twentieth. Quite a number of important political issues regularly touch upon the ethical, moral, and religious convictions of citizens: immigration policy, the death penalty, torture of prisoners, abortion, euthanasia, and the right to health care are some such issues.

Members of churches who supported Proposition 8 sincerely believe that defining marriage as only between a man and a woman is one such issue. They see marriage and the family as the basic building blocks of human society, existing before government and not created by it. Marriage is for us the ideal relationship between a man and woman, in which, through their unique sexual complementarity, the spouses offer themselves to God as co-creators of new human persons, a father and mother giving them life and enabling them to thrive in the family setting.

Are there many instances in which this ideal fails to be realized? Of course there are. Single parents, grandparents, foster parents and others deserve praise and support for their courage, sacrifice and devotion in raising the children for whom they are responsible. Still, the proponents of Proposition 8 subscribe to a definition of marriage that recognizes and protects its potential to create and nurture new human life, not merely a contract for the benefit of a relationship between adults.

Whatever others may say, the proponents of Proposition 8 supported it as a defense of the traditional understanding and definition of marriage, not as an attack on any group, or as an attempt to deprive others of their civil rights. The fact remains that, under California law, after the passage of Proposition 8, same sex couples who register as domestic partners will continue to have “the same rights, protections and benefits” as married couples. Proposition 8 simply recognizes that there is a difference between traditional marriage and a same sex partnership.

What is the way forward for all of us together? Even though we supporters of Proposition 8 did not intend to hurt or offend our opponents, still many of them, especially in the gay community, feel hurt and offended. What is to be done?

Tolerance, respect, and trust are always two-way streets, and tolerance respect and trust often do not include agreement, or even approval. We need to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. We need to stop talking as if we are experts on the real motives of people with whom we have never even spoken. We need to stop hurling names like “bigot” and “pervert” at each other. And we need to stop it now.

For our part, we churchgoers need to speak and act out of the truth that all people are God’s children and are unconditionally loved by God. While we argue among ourselves, the people who need our help with hunger, unemployment, homelessness and other problems wait for us to turn together toward them. More particularly, we Catholics in the Archdiocese of San Francisco need to minister to the needs of all Catholics in this local Church. Whoever they are, and whatever their circumstances, their spiritual and pastoral rights should be respected, together with their membership in the Church. In that spirit, with God’s grace and much prayer, perhaps we can all move forward together.