Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Issue of Equal Rights. I guess that's all.

So...let me get this straight. You're a parent. You've worked extra hours to buy bikes, varsity jackets, the best Christmas presents, to pay for summer camp, music lessons, elaborate birthday parties and exotic pets. You've read the same bedtime story 35 times in a row, and when your sweet, sleepless child said "Again", you read it 36 times in spite of your drooping eyes, and the dishes in the sink, homework to check, your own bed calling out to you. You've bandaged and kissed every injury, soothed every anguish and supported every decision, like the wrong friends, the dangerous sports, the pursuit of the arts as a career. How many nights did you stay up late with worry or wonder? How many mornings did you rise early, barely rested, to make a special breakfast or pack a favorite lunch for this very child, this animal of wonder you and your beloved spouse made together?

You're a parent. You've contradicted yourself before, to teach a lesson.
You've even learned some lessons of your own. You're going to fight to find a cure for breast cancer, autism, multiple sclerosis; you're going to fight to protect your religious freedoms; you're going to fight to protect the whales or the Texas prairie chicken, but you're not going to fight for love? You've fought countless battles for this child over a lifetime, and now, when your son brings his boyfriend home, or your daughter brings her girlfriend home, you're going to take off the gloves? You're going to quit? You're going to contradict yourself? You're not going to support Equal Rights?

There's a sign on the border between Michigan and Ohio that I pass everyday on my way home from work. It says "President Obama supports abortion and gay marriage, do you?" I read that sign and I see EQUAL RIGHTS AND PRO-CHOICE. And yes, I support those things, because it's humane, it's fair, it's decent. You have to support your kids through this, too. This is the fight all those little childhood battles prepared you for. I'm going to tell you this, too--even if you are one of those open-minded parents, and I think there are many of you (us) out there, but you're not pushing your friends and other relations to support equal opportunity for your gay son or daughter to get married, then the fight is still on and you have to keep fighting. You have to vote, you have to volunteer, you have to be proud of your children and of yourself for being the parent who protected them, and nurtured them into adulthood, and gave them the strength of character to be who and what they are at this time in this life. I don't think homosexuals are choosing to live "in sin". I don't think homosexuals are choosing not to be straight. I think homosexuals, like heterosexuals, are choosing to live the best life possible, and they want, like heterosexuals, to live without discrimination or fear of reprisal for their lifestyle.

I'm writing this because a few months ago a friend of mine and I were having a discussion about the way his church addressed homosexuality, and how he wasn't having any bigotry in the Lord's house, but he otherwise liked his church a lot. His decision to finally leave that church came down to his son, who is four years old. He basically feels like, what if my son is gay? If he is gay, I still want him to have the fullest life possible BECAUSE I LOVE HIM, and therefore cannot abide by discrimination against homosexuals now, because that would harm his future. But here's the big, sweeping idea I'm trying to get at: we both also agreed that by taking this approach now, whether our sons are gay or not, we're preparing our sons to be compassionate children and adults, but we're also somehow telling the parents of homosexuals, and their kids, that we love them and stand beside them. Because discrimination against love is wrong. Discriminating against a lifestyle choice that is no more harmless or fraught with peril than your own is wrong. It's not as if we're being asked to tolerate a culture of serial killers because they have rights, too. No, we're saying PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, QUALITY OF LIFE, EQUALITY, those things matter.

I hear my son laugh out loud in his sleep. His mother and I go check him and he's fine, smiling and sleeping soundly. I know I will do anything for this child, for his whole life. He's my child for as long as we live, not just until he becomes an adult. And I believe in equality not only for him, not just in case he's an outsider who the world hates and fears, but for everyone, for all time. It's not a matter of personal convenience that I take this stance. I hope it's for the betterment of the world, you know? All of our kids, yours and mine, should have the right to love who they want for their whole lives. And I think it's plain wrong not to fight for them, for our kids right now, and the future kids, too, and for the young adults who are starting their grown-up lives as well, and even for the grown-ups who've been in loving same sex relationships for years, we have to keep fighting for their rights, too.

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