Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Living Together as Equals

"How can we all get along, such that both sides of this sensitive issue are happy?" ~SCIA from knowthyfactsnotthyneighbors.blogspot.com

The answer is so simple that it seems too easy; we learn to live with respect for our mutual differences. People who disagree with my lifestyle are fully entitled to their opinions. I don't need to have the government step in and force people to look from my perspective. On the contrary, it is important and healthy to have opposing points of view, since it makes us question the validity of our beliefs. It was Voltaire who once said, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." No single point of view is the sum total of this country's citizens. To grant favor to one results in oppression to another.

It is wise to wonder if something new and different will bring chaos. It is also wise to remember that life is not stagnant, and that change is inevitable. The best we can do is try to steer that change in the direction we think is best. The religious right has made it clear that there are several things they fear from gay marriage, and the gay community. One of the changes is that they will have to accept gay marriages being performed in their churches. I can't speak for everyone in the gay community, but I see no need for a change in any one's private religious teachings or practices. If my right is equal to your right, that means you are free to think and do what you want so long as it does not harm me, my loved ones, or my property. I think we can all agree that this is a fundamental truth. We all desire safety.

If I ask for relief from the government, it is my responsibility to prove my case before I can expect the government to act on my allegations. At no time should I expect to be able to bully the system and simply make anyone live by what I believe, and visa versa. My need has to be arguably appropriate within the confines of our mutual agreement set forth in our constitution and laws. Our government was founded by people hoping that one day they would have created a Utopia of justice and equality for all walks of life. All people in good standing should be able to avail themselves of all the benefits of citizenship, and if there are reasons to exclude individuals the need must be clear. Where change is agreed, we should proceed with caution and err on the side of liberty whenever in doubt. When formal laws were first created by man for citizens to follow, the code of Hammurabi called for the sins of the father to be visited upon the son. We now understand and agree that people are individuals, and are responsible for their own actions, therefore we have due process. By unilaterally banning gay marriage, we deny individuals this fundamental justice. I am my own man, and I have conformed to the laws of this land. If I have done everything expected of me and more, why should I be denied my equal right to marry who I love based upon fears founded on what others might do with this freedom?

Theories against gay marriage are sorely unproven, and amount to little more than saying that gay marriage will provide a distracting alternative to conservative teachings. The Goodridge decision states "Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code." Lawrence v. Texas. There has been no provable evidence that gay marriage will cause any of the problems to our society that have been accused, and we should not confuse fear for fact when weighing individual liberties.

I can not promise someone that other gay people will behave with proper etiquette any more than someone can promise me that Rev. Phelps will no longer bother the gay community. We all can only speak for ourselves. We have to start looking at each other as individuals; as human beings all deserving of the same equality and respect unless our own personal actions mandate otherwise.

In closing I would say this to your question about how can we all get along. Teach your children and loved ones what you believe to be true about the world, and about God. Teach them to be tolerant of other people's differences, and be open to learn new things that may make them a better, more well rounded person. Teach them to be peaceful and brave, and know that their rights end where another person's rights begin. Teach them to be kind to others and receptive to kindness, yet observant enough to know when someone is trying to fool them. We should go into the 21st century with our eyes wide open, cautious yet hopefull. The best we all can do is follow Gandhi's words and "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

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