March 8, 2012
If It Were Their Son
Over the years, I have been fairly outspoken about gays, lesbians and their rights to marriage. And at one point, I thought I had said everything I needed to say in this post, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Since then, I have not written much about the topic here, although anyone who follows me on Twitter and Facebook knows I am still vocal on the topic. However, something keeps coming up which pokes at the blogger in me.
It is the part where a person's homophobia is defended by throwing in the bit "Oh, I'm sure if one of their children were gay, they would come to accept it." As if it provides a mitigating factor and all should be forgiven. Oh sure, Henry the Homophobe hates the gays right now, but he can turn on a dime if it suits his purposes. See! Henry's a nice guy after all! To be sure, I suppose one could argue that it would seem our society has come such great strides if, in this day and age, parents are so quick to accept their child's homosexual status. It was not that long ago when there was a time that children were disowned if they came out of the closet to their parents.
Except, herein lies the rub: the person's homophobia continues unchecked until they they are personally touched by it.
Am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy in that?
Yes, it is true that when a stereotype becomes an actual presence in someone's life, often those prejudices and hatreds go away, but why does it actually have to have enter one's life before it goes away? Is it not enough that all the gays and lesbians fighting for equal rights are already sons and daughters to other people?
Change does not just "happen" in a vacuum, it is actively made by our words and our actions. It is not enough to simply sit and around wait until a situation personally affects our lives before we take a stand.
I have always told my children they can marry who they love, without definition. As such, when our neighbors Ken and Evan moved next door to us last fall, my children did not blink an eye. What my children do not realize is that our neighbors are denied many basic rights that my own husband and I freely enjoy -- the right to inheritance, the right to share a tax status, the right to family insurance, the right to adopt a child together, the right to share a name without cumbersome legal hassles. I have not begun to explain all of this to my children since I just want them to take it for granted that marriages can come in a variety of combinations. For now, anyway. Admittedly, I am reasonably hopeful (and confident) the technicalities that limit my neighbors' marriage will be moot by the time my children are even able to fully comprehend the intricate legal and emotional subtleties of marriage. The qualities that truly make it a special institution in our country. The very institution in which any legal, tax-paying adult in our country should have the right to partake.
Yes, it is true that I was not personally touched by gay marriage until last fall. However, I was not silent before Ken, Evan and their children became our neighbors and even better, our friends.
And now, I can never be silent.