Not a Battle I Planned to Fight…

I am going to step away from writing about fitness today because, as you know, when something else is on my mind, I just have to take time to write about it.  So what’s on my mind this week?  The same-sex marriage ban that is currently being tossed around in Indianapolis.  A year ago, I thought about this topic, but was not passionate about it.  Afterall, it didn’t affect me.  Why should I care?  And then my teenage daughter came out.  Suddenly, the conversation on same-sex marriage did affect me, and more importantly, it greatly impacted my daughter.  My beautiful, intelligent, sweet daughter.

Being raised in a conservative Christian home, I struggled with this topic in the beginning.  I studied, I read, I prayed, and I have come to the conclusion that too many people are interpreting the Bible in a way that suits their needs.  While the Bible does talk about marriage between a man and a woman, it also states that it is sinful to cut one’s hair, to adorn oneself with make-up, and to use the Lord’s name in vain.  Society’s response to that?  Times have change, so that’s no longer relevant.  What about divorce?  The Bible clearly states that divorce is a sin, and that if one divorces and remarries, he or she is still committing adultery.  A sin.  Left-handedness – evil.  Over-indulgence in food or drink is also a sin according to the Word of God.  But times have changed, haven’t they?  Our lawmakers haven’t banned divorce, over-eating, or hair salons.  The overall message that is given throughout the entire Bible is that God calls us to love and accept one another.  That doesn’t mean to accept those we are comfortable accepting; it mean everyone.

For those who say that homosexuals ‘choose’ that lifestyle, well that’s just ignorance.  It is no more a choice than the color of our skin or being left-handed or right-handed.  I know that I could never be in love with a woman, no matter how hard I tried.  I am, without a doubt, a heterosexual.  If I can’t change, why would I expect my daughter to change?  She can’t.  She has no more interest in boys than I do in women.  Why would a teenage kid want to put himself or herself in a position to be a target for bullies?  Why would anyone choose to spend his or her life fighting bigotry?  Why would someone choose to have his or her choice in a partner judged by family, friends, and strangers?  Can you even imagine your own family turning their backs on you because of who you are?  It happens; I’ve seen it.  I’ve seen ‘Christians’ put their religious views before their own family members.   Their response?  They have a right to their opinions and faith.  Well, my God doesn’t teach me to hurt others; He teaches me to love everyone.

Indiana lawmakers are currently pushing legislation to ban same-sex marriage, and to change our constitution in order to do it.  They want to change our legislation in order to discriminate against my daughter.  I was very angry about this, and wrote our state representative, Lloyd Arnold.  He wrote back, and wanted to come meet with Addison, my husband, and me.  I was thrilled that we could put a face on this issue – the face of a teenager.  I asked my friend Katrina and her son Cole to join us, as Cole was also impacted by this legislation.  Mr. Arnold came to town Friday after school for our meeting.  As someone who hates politics, I was nervous about getting involved, but if it meant my daughter might some day have the same rights as her sisters, I was willing to jump in.

In my opinion, after hearing Mr. Arnold out, he is hopeful that this issue will just go away.  He doesn’t really want to have to deal with it.  His belief is that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman, but he supports civil unions for same-sex couples.  Great.  Doesn’t everyone dream of growing up and having a beautiful ‘civil union’?  No.  Even my gay daughter dreams of a wedding.  She dreams of a wedding in her hometown.  She wants to be accepted in the state in which she was raised.  Mr. Arnold told the kids that he believes they deserve the same rights as everyone else, and that he respects them, but he never said he supports their being allowed to marry.  He did vote to take out some hateful and damaging language in the legislation, but he also voted for the change in our constitution.  Hoping it will go away is not the same as standing up and fighting for equal rights.  Admittedly, I don’t completely understand all the political mumbo jumbo and the games they play in congress.  I am a more cut and dry type of person – either it’s right or it’s wrong.  It’s a no-brainer that it is wrong that a murderer in prison has the right to marry while incarcerated, but my daughter – a contributing member of our community – can be denied that right because of whom she loves.

Mr. Arnold also said that 70% of respondents to his survey said they want the issue to be on the ballot.  My question for him was what are the demographics of that survey?  I know that we – a working couple – are far too busy to return surveys.  My guess is that most of those who take time to fill out and return surveys are older, retired people.  If younger generations were to reply, I bet the answers would differ.  If this issue does eventually get on Indiana’s ballot, I pray those young people will get out and vote.

If our lawmakers say that homosexuals do not deserve the exact same rights as others, they are telling the bigots and bullies that homosexuals are lesser people, and don’t deserve respect.  They open our kids up to torment from their peers – as if it isn’t bad enough.  I respect Mr. Arnold’s decision to meet with us, knowing he was walking into a hard conversation with moms fighting for their kids.  I believe he is trying to learn more, and is willing to continue to listen.  I was thrilled that Addison and Cole had the opportunity to be heard by someone in power in our state.  Not many kids get that opportunity, and they both stepped up to the plate.  I hope the conversation continues.

One thing to think about is how you will be affected.  If you disapprove of same-sex marriage, don’t marry a gay person.  Would my daughter marrying her partner affect you in the least?  Would anyone be hurt if same-sex marriage were allowed in Indiana?  No.  I cannot think of how anyone would be hurt by this.  On the flip side, thousands would be hurt if a ban takes place.  When this bill passed the house this week, there were tears in my house.  What about yours?   Did you even pay attention?

I cannot end without saying how incredibly proud I am of my daughter.  She is a junior in high school, who talked to her state representative about gay marriage.  She was strong and respectful, even though the topic was clearly emotional for her.  She spoke with maturity and grace, and I could not have been more proud or in awe.  My heart broke as I listened to her voice quiver and saw the tears in her eyes; my heart swelled with pride as I listened to her speak in spite of her emotions.  I love this kid, and all I want is for her to have the same rights as your kids.  Isn’t that what we all want?  We’ve come a long way since I was in high school, but I’m afraid we have a long way to go.  Who is with me?  If you are, please share this blog.  Let your friends and family know that this legislation affects real people, real families, and kids.  Let’s give all kids hope that one day they will be accepted.

 

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sherrie Sprinkle
    Feb 02, 2014 @ 12:51:01

    Joyce, very well put. I think it is wonderful that you are so understanding. I have several friends that are fighting this battle and it is hard for them. Some have parents who have disowned them and it is a shame. Our kids did not have a choice when they were born that we were their parents. We as parents bring our children into this world and are responsible for their well being. How can a parent not love a child for who they are. You my not like what they do, but we are not perfect either. People need to quit thinking about how other people live their lives and start taking care of how they live theirs. Joyce, I hope Addison is not getting bullied, she is a great young lady and has such a zest for life. A smile that lights up and a great sense of humor. I have been on the other side of things being said about my daughter Megan because she is Asian and my grand daughter Skyla because she is mixed. It hurts but the old saying you can’t fix stupid is true. Fight the fight and know there are more behind you than you will ever know.

    Reply

    • Joyce Stath
      Feb 02, 2014 @ 13:01:59

      Thanks so much, Sherrie! Fortunately, Addison has an incredible group of friends, and has not faced bullying. I truly think part of that is because she is confident in who she is, and stays involved in numerous activities. She is vice-president of the junior class, on student council, in band, renaissance, Key Club, etc. I know, though, that other kids have faced mean kids, and I wish I could take away their pain. As parents, we have to model love and acceptance. I believe many bullies learn from their parents. I cannot imagine turning my back on my daughter – ever. How any family member can alienate someone because of who he or she is makes no sense to me. I am determined to advocate for my daughter.

      Reply

  2. Beth Lasher
    Feb 02, 2014 @ 14:01:30

    Your blog is amazing! I am very passionate about gay marriage too. Being gay is not a choice and those that do not agree have never had to see the struggles that a gay person has to go through. I can only hope that Mr. Arnold can see how his voice can change the lives of gay couples. He has not replied to my emails, letter, or phone message. I know him and his family and feel that his lack of response is due to the fact that he knows my family and I did not support him. We also knew his running mate, Mike Schriefer, personally. Mike belief’s were more in tune with ours. Please let me know if you have any suggestions as to how I can support gay marriage.

    Reply

    • Joyce Stath
      Feb 02, 2014 @ 14:09:43

      Thanks, Beth! Check out Freedom Indiana online and on Facebook. It’s a great source of info. Don’t give up. I am not sure why Lloyd chose to meet with us as I am sure he receives countless emails about this topic. Perhaps it was because we were republicans, and I said I could no longer support him. Maybe the timing was just right.

      Reply

  3. Barb Spear
    Feb 02, 2014 @ 17:39:08

    What a wonderful blog! I have many gay friends and students in school. Like you said, why would they CHOOSE to suffer through bullying of being gay, God made them that way and God does not make junk. I also agree with Beth Lasher about Mike Schriefer, I believe Perry County really messed up by not electing him. He would be right their for equal rights for all. I am very proud of your daughter to ‘come out’ in high school. I wish her the best and much happiness!

    Reply

    • Joyce Stath
      Feb 02, 2014 @ 17:51:22

      Thank you, Barb! My daughter is pretty amazing. I’ve learned so much by watching how she handles herself. I hope that our younger generation gets out and votes; they seem to have it more together than our leaders.

      Reply

  4. Lloyd
    Feb 03, 2014 @ 12:19:22

    Joyce,
    I really appreciate you sharing this with me, and sending me the author of the book you recommended. Beth, I am sorry I have not got to you yet on your concerns. with this topic, I am getting close to 200 emails a day. If they show up in my district I try to get to them right away. This has nothing to do with party politics. I don’t believe that is even a question on your party politics when you leave your information…

    Reply

  5. Susan Floyd
    Feb 04, 2014 @ 08:40:00

    Joyce, I loved this so much, and not because of who wrote it, because I’d read it three times before I saw your name under the title. I had a friend ask me last week if I really thought God would give a mother a gay child. I’m blown away by comments like this because it implies a punishment of parents, and disregards genetics, biology, and nature in general. Maybe if the word ‘gay’ was replaced with ‘cancer’ people would understand.. no, God does not choose to give cancer to a baby, child or adult, and neither does anyone choose to have cancer. Ok, that was my rant. Addison is a very blessed young woman to have her accepting family, and a Mom who will fight for her every step of her life. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  6. dianelakeishamari
    Jul 06, 2014 @ 06:32:24

    I happened upon your article today my chance because it was shared by my cousin on Facebook. Much of your story is also true for me. Thank U so much for Writing this. I wish I had your eloquence. But I may use some of your statements in the future when I am trying to verbalize my thoughts if you don’t mind. Again, thank you.

    Reply

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