7 May 2005
This seems appropriate, as we approach Mother's Day. I read this in a journal today:
Stories like this make me want to explode. This ranks right up there with a friend whose married daughter refuses to allow her mother to see any of her ten grandchildren because her mother is still living with the woman who helped raise the same daughter from childhood to adulthood.
How do people throw away family? Especially how do people throw away family--mothers, children--because they happen to love someone. How do you toss your daughter out of the house at 2 a.m. because she loved you enough to share with you the truth about herself? How does a father throw away a daughter?
How do you deny your children a relationship with their grandmother?
How do we have so little regard for our loved ones that we would toss them aside like so much garbage because we don't agree with the way they are living their life.
It's not like these are psychopaths, axe murderers, drug dealers, pedophile priests or corrupt politicians. They are just people who love people. How do you throw people away? How do you slam the door on your child?
What would Jesus do?
On a slightly different, but still allied topic, the topic of excluding people because you don't like the way they live their lives, I listened to a discussion at Stanford University between Evan Wolfson, of the Freedom to Marry Coalition and Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition. They were, of course, debating the issue of same sex marriage, but I think the feelings expressed mirror the same situation of the family that turns its back on a family member for daring to live as God made them.
Sheldon started by spouting a lot of facts and figures (which Wolfson challenged, saying there was no respected scientific study to, for example, show that children raised by two gay parents were any worse than children raised in traditional mother-and-father families.
While Sheldon talked about gay marriage going against all the "traditional values" of this country, Wolfson countered with his own definition of marriage. The values are simple: love, commitment, fairness, freedom, he said. Ask yourself, which position reflects these core American values?
Sheldon came back by accusing gay marriage supporters of pursuing a political agenda to forcefully redefine and undermine societys most basic and fundamental institution.
Wolfson pointed out that in the course of the campaigns to deny civil marriage to same sex couples, Sheldon and others love to throw out statistics, make assertions that deny the humanity of gay people, that deny their fitness as parents, that deny the needs of their children, that deny their desire to participate in legal institutions, that deny claim to the American history of civil rights advance and then turn around and wonder why people see their rhetoric as somehow anti-gay or hateful or even inciting of discrimination and violence.
Sheldon replied that he was all for personal freedoms as long as they were kept behind closed doors, but he stopped short of any legal protections for those who choose to live a life of which he does not approve.
I liked Wolfson's closing statement so much that I sat here and transcribed it:
Lou Sheldon again declined to make clear that as he has drafted it, a constitutional amendment would also preclude states from making their own decisions with regard not just to marriage, but to health benefits, to bereavement leave, to other protections large and small and it would roll back the gains and advances that have been made in this state for same sex couples and their kids.
We are met on this battlefield once again, but the stakes are not just about gay people, as important as that may be; theyre not just about marriage as important as that would be because to be denied marriage is to be denied a range of tangible and intangible protections and responsibilities that literally cover every area of life from birth to death, with taxes in between. If it were just about marriage it would be important, but ultimately its not just about marriage.
The civil rights question confronting California, confronting the United States again is what kind of country were going to be. Are we going to be a country that respects religious freedom and personal freedom and the values of love, commitment and fairness for all, or are we going to be a country that takes a minority, one group of families, one group of Americans, and shoves them outside the structure of law.
That question is important to everyone, gay or non-gay, young or old, across the country and here in California. Its not just an academic question that brings us into a conversation like this. It is a burning question of civil rights currently being fought over in which some forces are trying to deprive the next generation of the power to think it through and rise to the better angels of our nature. Everyone has a stake in this battle. Everyone should make sure his or her voice be heard right here in California, right now.
As I ended the first part of this entry, with reference to loved ones turning their backs on family members for being open and honest, I now refer to the question of one group of men, women and children being set aside as different, treated as social lepers not worthy of the same rights and responsibilities as the rest of society (though being expected to still pay taxes for them )--and I ask...
what would Jesus do?
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Another before and after PhotoShop project