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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