Tag: gay marriage
One of the best things about having left Florida is that I no longer have to bear the embarrassment of being a resident of that insane state. From hanging chads to the Elian Gonzalez debacle to the stand your ground law and people like George Zimmerman who choose to abuse it, to the draconian voting regulations and the reelection of Governor Rick Scott, as a Floridian it just makes you want to hang your head and not make eye contact with anyone.
But recent news takes the cake. Just when you think that state couldn’t sink any lower, geographically or morally, they pull a caper like this. Now that they have been forced, kicking and screaming, to make gay marriage legal, what has Duval County, the home of my old city, Jacksonville, along with two neighboring counties done? They’ve stopped doing courthouse marriages. For anyone. Why? Because some of their employees are apparently uncomfortable with complying with the new law. Boo hoo.
The question is, does that state try to make itself look ignorant, backward, and bat shit crazy, or is it just that way and it can’t help but broadcast it with every action it takes? And what do they gain from this image? I don’t get it.
When I lived there, news like this meant that I had this chronic, low grade heartburn feeling in my chest that I couldn’t seem to do anything about. It was gnawing away at my very spirit. Now, it just makes me slap my forehead from the opposite side of the country and think, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
[Image credit: poorexcuses.com]
There was a period in Spanish history between the beginning of the eighth century and the end of the fifteenth century known as the Convivencia, which, roughly translated, means the time of living together, when the Muslims, Christians and Jews lived in relative peace. Not to say that Spain hasn’t had a past checkered with as much violence and intolerance as any other country, but there was that enlightened period, at least in the southern part of the country, and that has always appealed to me.
I try really hard to live in Convivencia, not just in terms of tolerating other religions, but other philosophies and lifestyles as well. One of the most beautiful things about being well traveled is that you learn that your way isn’t the only way, and it may not even be the best way. Once you realize that, you become a lot more open minded.
I have never understood people who use the term “politically correct” as if it were an epithet. They assume that that tendency must be insincere and false. That speaks volumes about them. It really is possible to accept diversity without being disingenuous about it. It might take effort sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be unnatural. It may not be your custom to fast during Ramadan, for example, but how hard is it not to eat in front of someone you know is fasting? It’s common courtesy and it shows that you have the maturity to be aware of those around you.
I’m always befuddled by people who get angry every year when someone says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. Why is it so unpalatable to them that you want to include everyone in your well wishes? I personally appreciate any well wishes that come my way.
For that same reason, I don’t get people who oppose gay marriage. What they are basically saying is that they don’t want “those people” to have a chance at the same happiness that they have. That makes no sense to me. Why do they care?
The tendency to embrace the wider world is much more positive than practicing a xenophobia that not only limits you, but pours the acid of hatred on your very soul. Allowing for other points of view can only increase your emotional intelligence and open you up to a broader range of experiences. Try it. You might learn something.
It’s what causes women in backward villages to be stoned to death. It justifies the withholding of the truth. It encourages people to demonize scientific proof. It suggests that if children are not taught sex education, there will be no teen pregnancies. It allows us all to focus on one group and make them the scapegoats for all evil. It permits women to vote for the very politicians who are hell-bent on undermining their human rights. It advocates female genital mutilation despite documented health threats. It’s the reason there’s a spike in domestic violence during the Super Bowl. It asserts that two people who love each other should not be allowed to marry if they are not members of the mainstream. It convinces people that others will go to hell if their beliefs do not align with their own. It advocates violent solutions, and claims that most rape victims are asking for it. It allows people to believe that background checks for gun purchases is a bad thing, and that this opinion is not motivated by politics and greed. Does your very life depend on a certain diet? Ignorance will allow you to remain in denial about that until you’ve thrown away the very gift that should never be returned. It advocates censorship, because God knows we shouldn’t be allowed to form our own opinions or draw our own conclusions. It supports changing the facts of history in order to alter belief systems.
And most of all, ignorance promotes a hatred of knowledge and turns intellectualism into a dirty word, because in the presence of intelligence and insight, ignorance cannot survive.
Will You Marry Me?
Marriage and I have a fragile relationship at best. At 19 I was told by someone I was in love with that I was “not the kind you marry.” That was cruel enough, but what was worse is that he would not elaborate, and that gave me infinite ways to interpret that statement. In fact, here I am at 48, and I never did marry. Saying that his comment was the reason is according it way too much weight, though. In actual fact, there have been a few occasions when I’ve wanted to be married. But apparently the men in question were not on the same page. And there have been times when I’ve been proposed to, but not by anyone I wanted to marry. So there you go.
Do I feel that I have been worse off for being perpetually single, a spinster, an old maid? Not at all. I’ve seen very few examples of happy marriages, and a whole host of examples of married people who are living lives of quiet desperation. If I’m to be miserable and lonely (which I am not, most of the time), I’d much rather do it on my own, calling my own shots, crying into my own flavor of ice cream.
After all, marriage as an institution came about when the average life expectancy was not even 40 years old. You can get along with the devil himself for 10, maybe 15 years, can’t you? But when it stretches out for decades…then it becomes more like a life sentence. That has very limited appeal for me.
So part of me is kind of bemused by this battle for marriage equality. It seems to me that a great deal of fuss is being made over the ability to enter into an institution which, frankly, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I really don’t see the point of marriage in this day and age unless you have children and are therefore trying to provide them with a certain level of legal protection.
But do I think everyone should have the right to make their own mistakes? Definitely. Absolutely. No doubt about it. And that’s really what this battle is about, isn’t it? Fundamentally, every human being on this planet should have the right to be able to do what every other human being has a right to do. And therefore, by extension, I think that any person who willingly wishes to enter into a marriage contract should be allowed to do so. (Marriage against one’s will, or due to unbearable cultural pressure, or when so young that you can’t really make an informed decision is a topic for another blog entry entirely.)
This is not the 1600s, when only men who owned land could vote. This is not 1840, when slavery was considered acceptable. I’d like to think we’ve evolved beyond a time when we considered one group of people inferior to another. When viewed that way, the situation seems ridiculous at best. Why on earth would anyone want to hold on to an antiquated belief system that insists on making people comply to a completely random hierarchy, a set of boxes, and expect people to say in “their place” and shut up, and behave? Insanity.
And the main reason for all of this hubbub? Religion. Don’t get me wrong. I think having a spiritual standard that helps you to hold to a moral code is a good thing. But I also think that whatever divine power you subscribe to must surely expect you to use your common sense. I’ll use the Bible as an example only because it’s the book used in my particular culture. Here goes:
Have you ever played the game telephone? You whisper a sentence into your neighbor’s ear, and he then passes it on to the next person, and so on and so on, until at the end when you hear that message, it has changed so dramatically that you can barely recognize it? That’s the Bible in a nutshell. After having been passed through Aramaic, Coptic, and Greek, as well as the various historical contexts that it went through during those various translations, much of its original meaning has been lost. And then when you consider the many controversies over what books to include in the bible and what books to leave out, who knows what the original “story” was meant to be? I’m not saying that there isn’t value in the text that we know today. I’m just saying that we must use our common sense when interpreting it. Anyone who thinks that it can be taken literally when it has been changed so dramatically over time, and when the readers of today are so different than the writers of yesterday that they might as well be from different planets, has no sense of history whatsoever.
So don’t use the bible as your excuse for prohibiting gay marriage. Not when there are parts of the bible that advocate slavery and polygamy, and tell you not to interact with a woman who has her period, and don’t wear clothes of multiple fibers. For heaven’s sake, use your brain.
If you want to convince me that gay marriage is wrong, then come at me with a non-religious argument. Then maybe I’ll listen to you. Probably not, but maybe. In the meantime, if my nephew or my best friend, both gay, and two of the most amazing and loving and decent men I know, want to throw themselves into the utterly unpalatable institution of marriage, then I will be right there, pelting them with bird seed and crying tears of…well, who knows what they will be tears of. But more power to them.
Don’t Get Your Knickers in a Twist
Is it just me, or is everyone experiencing a spate of mounting hysteria? I know the economy is bad, and there are wars and abuses and crime and tragedy. I know that there are plenty of causes and issues that need to be addressed. The four horses of the apocalypse are being kept quite busy, indeed. But something is different.
For example, here in America you’ll always get your fair share of people complaining about the president if he wasn’t the guy they voted for. That’s the beauty of democracy, in my opinion. But suddenly it’s not just the usual griping, it’s extreme panic. To hear them tell it, all guns will be confiscated so that we can all be trundled into concentration camps by the illegal immigrants, our senior citizens will be killed off, the rest of us are going to be sprayed in the face with some new government created virus, and while we experience a slow and agonizing death from that, we’ll all be forced into a gay marriage. But hey, at least the weather will be nice, because global warming is apparently some huge hoax that was devised in a worldwide conspiracy by 98 percent of all scientists to benefit…whom exactly? Beats me.
It’s even getting to the point where Facebook isn’t fun to visit anymore. Not only does it seem like the latest global outrage is the order of the day, but three times in the past two weeks I’ve watched debates turn into fights in which people who are supposed to be friends engage in hostile name calling.
What has happened to reasoned discourse? Where have courtesy and respect gone? What has happened to checking facts instead of spreading ridiculous rumors? When did we become so gullible? At the rate we’re going, this time next week people will actually believe that Godzilla is rampaging through the streets of New York City.
I long to sit down in a restaurant and hear everyone around me discussing sports, the weather, books they’ve read, their kid’s t-ball game, movies, music, art, dating, travel…anything, ANYTHING but fear, prejudice, hatred, disaster and death. Please. I’m begging you.
If I were queen of the world, the first thing I would do is issue a brown paper bag to all my subjects so that we could all breathe into them and stop this global hyperventilation.
Everything is going to be okay. Really.