Everything is ready for the celebration. The meal is prepared. The tables are decorated. The glasses are ready for the toast. The families are excited to see two of their favorite people commit their lives to each other. A great wedding – a wedding with two grooms.
Gays wanting to marry isn’t a spiteful or selfish move to undermine existing marriage traditions. Rather, it is simply an honest request to be included in these same traditions – to be able to move through life in a committed relationship that is honored, valued, legitimized, supported and respected by society.
We see this not only with gays but also with people who love others from different religious traditions, ethnic backgrounds, races or social statuses. Rules prohibit who we can openly love. Many believe that traditions trump love. But love rarely happens by tradition. Based on today’s alarming divorce statistics that over 50% of couples divorce, our current process for choosing life partners doesn’t seem to be effective. I wonder if the repeal of DOMA can help us initiate a positive conversation on what it takes to be successful in (any) marriage.
We each have an amazing capacity to love and a strong need to be accepted. These are evidenced by what we are willing to give up or change to have both. At school we adopt behaviors that are not ours to connect with the “in,” the athletic, the smart or the popular crowd. Kids choose what to wear, and what technology to use, not based on need or taste, but to fit in. A teen gives up on his ethics and robs a store to be accepted by his friends. A couple gets itself into a lifestyle they cannot afford to be accepted by their peers. An abused woman who stays with her abuser for fear she will not be loved elsewhere. A gay person gives up on the love of his or her life so as not to be found out or disowned by his or her family.
When we are not accepted, we hide, we live in the shadows and we step out of our greatness. As I share in my poem, You Are Great and You’re Awesome, Just As You Are, when we hide because we haven’t been accepted, we shortchange our selves and our world.
You can’t shine in life, when you let yourself hide.
And you can’t change the world, if you’re ashamed inside.
You didn’t choose how you’re born, where you’re from.
But you can surely choose the “you” you become.
Pretending is bad, it loads on the strife.
Hiding restricts us, it limits our life.
We are each given gifts to discover and use,
And we shortchange the world if we don’t know or refuse
To be open and honest and accept the real “me”.
This is what it takes to really be free.
The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence states, “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.” The pursuit of happiness does not refer to buying more things, nicer houses or expensive cars. The original founders meant that we each have the right, ability and responsibility to discover our unique abilities – our greatness – and to live it honestly, authentically and fully. The more supported and accepted we are, the larger we step into our true selves. As President Obama said on the day the Supreme Court overturned DOMA, “The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”
Our DNA creates distinct brain hardwiring which provides each of us with very unique talents, strengths and passions; these are our tools to develop our success road in life. Our greatness is innate – we are all born great and this greatness isn’t dependent on skin color, religion, sexual preference, gender, age or ethnicity. Though we are each born great, the realization of this “awesomeness” only happens when we discover and then use it to find our place and contribute to our world. Having access to all of the rights of our society as identified in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence allows us the freedom and ability to self-discover – to be all that we could be – with the intention of adding value to our lives, society and our world. Not having access to these rights limits us.
Normalizing what has previously been considered abnormal encourages gays to come out of their hiding – not just about being gay and having an honest, loving relationship – but with the acceptance of who we are and to bring our best without fear. This is what is available to countless others.
At no point does this allowing gays to marry undermine or undervalue traditional marriages; in fact, it strengthens them. We have now added many more avid marriage supporters from which we can expand our understanding of successful, loving and thriving relationships from both gay and straight perspectives. We can be role models for each other; we have things to share with each other because we both want the same thing – a loving relationship that allows us the ability to realize our best and bring that best to every aspect of our lives.
In a world where we talk more about love than living it, here is an opportunity to expand our understanding of marriage. And whether gay or straight, from different faiths, from different races and from different traditions, we all want to live as a family, marry for love and legally and lovingly support each other at every stage in our lives. Nothing more. We have much to teach each other. We should see this as progress because it encourages, not limits, our individual and collective greatness. Supporting gay marriage is a defense of marrying for love. Let’s end the label “gay marriage” and just start calling it “marriage.”