Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Equal Rights

Over the past few weeks, several acquaintances, that live here in NC, have questioned me concerning what they perceive as my religion, as well as, my support of equal marital rights in Maine. Equal marital rights was up for vote in this past Maine election.

I have been struggling to understand the stance of those in opposition to equal marital rights, as well as the stance of the Conservative Christians in this area. In the past I have been told I was going to Hell for my beliefs, hard to understand considering I don't believe in Hell. I have been told I am choosing death instead of life....well you get the picture. This is all new to me, as I was born and raised in Maine and my parents and community pretty much followed a "live and let live" philosophy. Where the focus was on living your best life.

Many Christians here in NC use the argument that we need to live by God's law and what it says in the Bible. While personally, I believe that everyone has a right to live that way if they so choose. I don't believe that everyone should *have to* live that way. A subtle difference maybe but still a difference. Some truly believe that we all should live by one set of personal values. That somehow my values are inferior, and I should be forced to live by their superior values.

I believe that religious freedom is a freedom granted to everyone. The first amendment to the Constitution says in part: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". There will be no national religion. If there is no national religion, I do not believe that our laws should reflect the values of one religion. I do not believe that I should be forced to live by one Christian set of values.

In discussing this issue I have found it difficult to even begin to make a point as so many believe that it is their calling to make sure all are living by God's law. If not they will surely perish in the fires of Hell. Some really can't conceive of a "to each his own" society, believing that my beliefs are just as "right" and equal as their beliefs. It is outside their realm of conception that my beliefs bring as much joy to me as their beliefs bring to them, and are just as right for me as theirs are for them.

Now to my recent facebook posts concerning my support for the equal marital rights vote in Maine. I received quite a few e mails concerning this.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It doesn't say that all Christian men are created equal. It also does not say that "they are endowed by *my* creator". It says ALL men are created equal and are endowed by THEIR creator (whatever that creator may or may not be).

It also says that we have certain unalienable rights including the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I was asked by one person "why can't they just be together, why do they need a piece of paper, why do they need to be legally married?"

My answer was... why not? I mean that little piece of legal paper was and is important to me, it was/is important to the person asking the question. Why should it not be important to everyone. And I should clarify that by "they" she was referring to any same gender couple seeking a marriage license in Maine. I believe that this choice, to legally marry in this country, should be a choice available to all couples.

People today are bombarded with advertising based solely around possible negative outcomes. I think opponents to anything use negatives to their advantage. Harping on the negative things that "could" happen if a particular event were to come to pass. It really doesn't matter what the event is, there are always those who will be standing there to tell you just what evils will pop into your existence if it happens, preying on people's fear. While it isn't a suicide bomber, I feel it is a form or terrorism. Creating terror in people using only words. It is so easy to get caught up in that fear, and keep yourself up at night thinking about yourself and your children. Isn't' that where they always hit us, with our children. But if you think about the bigger picture, there are negative things out there every day in our lives. With every choice we make, there are positive outcomes and negative variables just standing there. For the most part we don't approach every situation, every choice, from a place of fear. We only wollow in the presence of fear when it is brought to our attention over and over again, through different media.

I choose to approach choices, and life in general, from a place of peace. I refuse to let fear rule my life. Fear does not serve to bring joy into my life. That is what I am seeking, in my life, in my marriage, in my motherhood...JOY. As a family, as individuals, we seek out those things that bring us joy. And lingering in fear does not do that. Standing in the presence of peace, choosing to live my life from a place of peace, brings joy. Maybe that is why I just can't seem to understand where so many are coming from when they feel it's their calling to make sure everyone is living by the Bible, and opposing same gender marriage. Maybe they are living a life guided by fear, either consciously or unconsciously. I think we can make the choice to change. We can choose today to let peace live in our lives, in our families. We can each choose to let peace guide our decisions.

I do not choose fear, I choose peace.

I know this post may just seem like ramblings, and I have rewritten it several times trying to get my feelings down on paper, not an easy task. But I wanted to say "something", to try to explain my position just a bit. I know I live in The South where equal marital rights will not even be the topic of debate for many years to come. My ties to Maine are deep, and I care about my friends and family that still reside there. I would love to see the people of Maine at the front of this march, taking the lead when it comes to equal rights, making sure equal rights MEANS equal rights for EVERYONE!


Sylvia said...

What bothers me most is the idea that by requiring us all to live by Biblical law (as defined by Christians) they're saving us from ourselves.

Good post.

wovenstones said...

This is going to sound rather harsh but I think the only thing we can do is try to keep people with rigid, authoritarian beliefs - beliefs that are the antithesis of our democracy - in the minority. THEY can live by those rigid beliefs but they have no right to force them on others. I believe in the free exchange of ideas but there has to be a limit.

All societies have a segment of people who need tight control over themselves and others. I think they are most dangerous when they gain the majority. Hopefully, wisdom and peace will prevail and most of us will, as you said, live and let live.

Frank said...

Well said and I'm sorry about Maine. Here in Washington state we approved a resolution which supports some equal rights for all, although it doesn't go as far as marriage. Next time, hopefully.

Wenwe said...

Well said, along with the comments.