That’s the phrase someone used recently to describe my response to Amendment One and the whole same-sex marriage brouhaha. Their point was that with all the problems in this world, like people going hungry, high unemployment, etc. it seemed rather frivolous for “liberals” (their word) to expend so much energy on marriage equality. I suppose it does look that way from a straight point of view; marriage and all it’s attendant benefits and protections has always been available to us. In this case, familiarity may not have bred contempt, but it seems to have encouraged us to take the thing for granted. Believe me, your outlook is slightly different if you’ve spent your whole life on the outside looking in.
We’ve all done that in our life, been the outsider. Whether it was in school, college or work, I’m pretty sure every one of us has been the new guy, the square peg or the fifth wheel. We’ve noticed conversations stop when we walk by, maybe even heard the muffled laughter after we passed. We’ve gotten a little taste of what it’s like to be left out. For most of us, though, it’s different; eventually, though good-natured persistence, we work our way in to the group. We’re not on the outside anymore, we’re accepted, we’re in. Others don’t always have that option. When the rules of polite society are stacked against you, good-natured persistence just won’t cut it. That’s when you stand up and demand to be let in, when you fight for the rights that God gave every one of us. If you’re one of those on the inside and you happen to notice there are people being kept outside, it is your responsibility, your duty, as a Christian and a human being to open the door and let them in. As my friend Andrew Fischer would say, to do anything else would make Jesus cry.
If you think that’s a poor metaphor, you’re right. That’s because I’m a straight American and we’ve been on top so long, we can’t comprehend what it’s like to be anything else. The idea of not being on top any longer scares the shit out of us, so we find ways to trivialize those people who are making us uncomfortable by demanding to be treated like normal human beings. Sad, isn’t it?
A little over two years ago, I started this blog to work out some spiritual issues and, though it’s gone all over the place since then, there was always a vein of social justice running through everything I wrote. Something changed in the last week, however. Writers talk about “finding their voice” a lot. There are magazine articles, websites and books dedicated to doing that. Every one I’ve ever read focuses on technical aspects; things like syntax, diction, punctuation, etc. But, they all seem to leave out one important aspect: passion. If you’re not passionate about your subject, your voice will be weak and never heard above the crowd. In the past week, I’ve finally found that passion.
There are people who work with the homeless, people who work with the poor, there are people do great things in overseas ministry. These are all important issues and I care about all of them, as I do all social justice issues. But, the one that has struck me to my core, that has become personal, is equal rights for all God’s children. Including the gay ones; maybe especially the gay ones.