One of the folks I follow on Twitter, @supertailz, tweeted that the “protections” in the same sex marriage bill being considered in NY sounded pretty draconian (“looked awful” is how she put it). Then she wondered in her tweet “Why do they hate so much?” meaning by “they,” I assume, those that insisted those “protections” be in the bill.
I try to be charitable whenever possible, to think the best of people. So reading that tweet I thought to myself, maybe it’s not hate at all. Maybe it’s just fear–fear of the “other.” It’s still not a very meritorious thing to want to restrict the basic civil rights of others out of your own fear. But fear is a more understandable emotion than hate. Fear is generally involuntary. It’s more difficult to listen to your better angels when fear takes hold.
So maybe it’s fear and not hate. Trying to be charitable here. But then I read a caption on a photo that described someone outside the state house in NY praying to God that the bill not pass. Well, I suppose anyone can pray about anything they want, no matter how wrong-headed or evil. But two things occur to me when I think of people sending out these kinds of prayers. One, they’re interjecting religion into an issue that, damn it, ought to be a civil decision, not a religious one. Your religious beliefs tell you that two men or two women who love each other shouldn’t marry? Fine. Don’t marry a dude if you’re a dude. Don’t marry a gal if you’re a gal. Don’t go to the wedding of same. Viola! You have not violated your religious principles.
And anyway, in the US, marriage is an institution with legal, not religious ramifications (yes, you can interject religion into marriage, but that’s a separate thing). The government does not (should not!) stick their governmental noses into any issues of religion. How can the government decide not to sanction same sex marriages because it might offend a particular (or various) religions? What about those religions who not only don’t object to SSM, they consider it one of their sacraments to join in marriage all couples professing love for one another? Where’s their protection?
Which brings me to my second point about that person or persons praying that the marriage equality bill doesn’t pass. Are you seriously petitioning to God to prevent the marriages of people who love each other? Do you really think that God, who is all-loving, omniscient, who truly sees into every heart and mind, is going to say, “Gee, Joe Blow doesn’t like the idea of these particular couples getting married. Hmm. They love each other very much. They are willing to commit to one another for a lifetime, to support and care for one another. To maybe raise children together. And did I say they love each other? Ah, but Joe Blow is praying for that to never happen. I suppose I’d better grant that prayer.”
Not. Because God is not in the business of denying love. Anyone’s love. If it’s true, if it’s real, God wants more of that in the world. And if we’re lucky, instead of granting Joe Blow his wish, God will place a germ of love into Joe’s heart. So maybe when he opens his eyes after that prayer, Joe will realize that real love, even if it’s between two men or two women, is nothing to fear.