Read Part 1 here.
So back to that Huffington Post article that I saw at work. It was a link to a letter written by a man in a state that is debating the legal definition of marriage. Currently, he happens to fall outside of that definition. And he presented a very eloquent argument as to why the thought of 13 strangers debating his future without knowing anything about him, or anything about his life, or anything about his marriage was one of the more discriminatory actions he has faced. You can go here and read the full letter–I encourage you to do so. At a time when people debate this topic so forcefully yet I know several of my friends do not know a gay man or a lesbian woman, much less one in a committed relationship, it is a fantastic accounting of what a day in his life is like. And it’s just that–a day. A day when two people who are married to each other wake up in the morning and go through their day. Go to work, eat meals, do laundry, watch a movie. A day like the day you have, or the day like I have.
I don’t know why the letter resonated with me so strongly, but it did. So I did something I think I’ve never done (unless it’s writing to my imagined BFF at USAToday, the Pop Culture Maven Whitney Mathison) and wrote to the guy that penned the original letter.
His name is Peter Monn. And he wrote me back.
Okay, impressive, because I thought I’d write this letter to get my feelings off my chest. (You know, kind of like how I blog. Like no one I know will ever read it.) He received my letter, read it, and was writing to thank me for my comments, sharing a bit more about his life and circle of friends, so I wrote back to him again. And I have to say, I’m flattered that my words meant something and weren’t considered mindless rambling.
So read the original posting. And just so you don’t have to scroll up, here is the link again. (Seriously, read it. So worth it.) And here is the email I wrote in response to him the other day:
To Peter and Alex:
I don’t know how I ran across your letter to Annie. I’m sure it was through one of the many social networking sites that has picked it up in the last few days and turned it viral. I don’t know which of my friends is the one that posted it, or if it was one that I found from NPR or ABC or some other news outlet posting. I opened the link, and then had to wait a day or so before I was afforded the opportunity to read it at work. I almost wish I hadn’t. Tears accompanied by sobbing and heaving at work are just so unattractive.
In my home state of Virginia, national headlines have recently trumpeted the recent proclamation of newly elected Attorney General Mark Herring and his stance on same-sex marriage. Claiming (rightfully so) that Virginia has all too often fallen on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the law, Herring is bringing to the forefront an issue that I thought would not even be discussed in this state for another decade or so. He is at last publicly speaking about something that should be spoken about in newspapers and press releases nationwide, not just in our small state. I can honestly say that I am (finally) proud of a Virginian politician that is taking a stand for equality.
As an Evangelical Christian, attending a Pentecostal church, I am frequently labeled as a conservative homophobic woman that believes that all same sex couples are sinners that will burn in an eternal fire.
I am a woman, that part is true. But that’s about all they get right. Not only am I a woman, but I am a Southern woman to boot. In fact, I am a 40 year old Southern woman, who is a practicing Evangelical Christian. I am also a God serving, two time college graduate, single, ‘plus sized’, Caucasian, dog owning woman, if you insist on putting a label on me. I am also a woman that doesn’t understand why we do not all accept each individual for the identity that they have, instead of making them conform to something others in society deem as ‘aesthetically acceptable’.
And I cannot for the life of me understand why two people that are in love cannot marry for the simple reason that they are of the same gender. I do not understand why, if someone has chosen the mate that they wish to spend the rest of their life with, and would like commit to that person in a marriage ceremony, they are not then afforded the luxury of claiming one another as husband or wife. Of having them as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy. Of having them as next of kin in a medical situation. Of having them legally recognized by all as being a spouse, entitled to all benefits and heartaches that encompasses, and most of all, . . .
. . .to have the world recognize them as someone in love.
To have the world know, at a glance, that this couple. THIS couple. This couple IS a couple. This couple lives together, and cries together. This couple pays bills together and argues over the thermostat setting together. This couple shares the sweetness of birth, the agony of loss, the thrill of accomplishment, the bitterness of despair. And they share it together.
Why? Because they’re in love. And they’re in love so much, that they wanted to go a step farther than other couples, or other friends. They wanted to make that person a part of their family. They wanted a marriage. And they wanted to world to recognize that for all intents and purposes they belong to each other.
And yes, if that marriage doesn’t work out, they also have the legal obligation of divorce. Because that is what couples who make a mistake realize they have to do. They have to dissolve the union legally and completely, and not just move out and move on, with no thought to the consequences.
So why does the simple fact that I’m a woman that would choose to marry a man make me more entitled to this wonderful opportunity than a man who wishes to marry a man? Why do I get these privileges and my coworker does not? Why do I get the security in knowing that I can marry my love, should I ever find him, and you do not? Why should I have to leave my state, and flee my home, if I want to live in connubial bliss with a mate of the same gender? Why can’t I live here, in my home, in my city, in my state, with the one of my choosing?
I think that being uneducated and uninformed is no excuse for ignorance in matters of social acceptance and grace. Unfortunately, I think that too many in power have the phobia and stigma in their minds regarding same-sex marriage. The voice of the movement is sadly being put on mute. Eventually, however, the many that speak with their quiet volumes will overpower the earplugs of the stubborn and make themselves heard. And the best voice for this quiet roar is the voice of those that are living amidst the rest of the population as one of their own. People like the two of you, who so eloquently explain what ‘a day in the life’ is like. What ‘a day in the life’ is like for two people in love. What ‘a day in the life’ is like for married people. For all married people, regardless of their gender composition. To give those that somehow think otherwise an opportunity to realize that you are just. Just as married, just as entitled as any other couple in a relationship, and just like them. So I thank you for taking the time to write your story, for sharing your experiences.
And by your speaking out, I am humbled. I feel chastised that I have not given greater voice to my feelings and opinions. And I feel that I owe you an apology for my inaction. So for that, I am sorry. I vow to make a point to speak out more, in a positive and non-threatening manner, on behalf of those that are being discriminated against and prosecuted for the most inane of reasons.
Because they found someone to love.
Well, bless Peter’s heart, he responded and thanked me for my words and told me that his best friend has a similar background to mine, and that they have simply agreed that there will be things they do not agree upon but they will support one another in their stance on whatever issue they disagree upon. And that he wanted to share my letter with others.
Here is my response again:
Wow. Honestly, I didn’t expect a response from you. As I wrote the email draft last night, and sent this evening, I was just hoping that at some point, you might find my letter and realize that there was someone several states away that supported both you and Alex, and wished you the very best. I am humbled that you were moved by my words, and I thank you for responding so kindly.
My first reaction when you said you wanted to share was ‘but of course’, and then my stomach went wonky. Which honestly is not a typical reaction for me, as I have always been known as someone who is quite talkative, and I have never had a reason to not stand by my words and actions–be they words that are carefully chosen and presented or statements made passionately in the heat of conversation and debate. So I sat back for awhile, answered some more email, postponed going to bed, and tried to figure out why this made my stomach do flips. The answer is that I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because the outcome is unknown? Maybe it’s because this is the hot political topic du jour? Maybe it’s because in my little circle of the world I’m in the minority opinion? Maybe it’s because I’m chicken? And after mulling it over for an hour, the one answer that I am certain of is that none of those are valid reasons for not standing by my words and I should take pride in my opinions and the position I have.
So I thank you for emailing me back. I thank you for asking if you might share, and yes. Please do. And with my name attached. Because the more people that can get past feeling like a minority and feeling like they might be chicken for saying something that others might not like is what is needed. I absolutely believe every word I wrote, and wish there were others that felt the same. And maybe, just maybe, this will help someone else think that way too.
Have a wonderful evening, and blessings to both of you. I head to bed this evening with a smile on my face and a smile in my heart for the two of you for the second night in a row, and another one for your best friend too–who shows that the best part of being a Christian is the capacity to love others regardless of what others tell you is what you should do, and the gift of embracing the differences that make each one of us such wonderfully unique individuals.
All my best,
So here I am. This is me. I’m putting my words out there in the internet ether, and sharing my opinion and voicing my support. I stand by all I said and all I wrote, and am proud of my words and my stance. If this offends you, I am sorry. It is not my intent. But I do not want to try to avoid that awkward conversation just because I have an opinion.