Love, Equal Rights, and Gay Marriage

Today I am struggling. In fact, I have been struggling since before the national election. I don’t understand the opposition to gay marriage and how Proposition 8 passed in California.

Growing up, as a Mennonite, I was taught that love was of the highest nature. I see Christ as a true revolutionary who reached out to the poor, the destitute, and the outcasts and he did so without judgment and with pure love in his heart. In the past, I have written that I am a potential Christian and a practicing Buddhist. Today, after the election season in California, much of my bitterness and unhappiness with my Christian roots have been watered and I am not so positive about this potentiality. This is my struggle today. In fact, it is so powerful that I am experiencing resistance to attending another marriage ceremony between two people who may have voted in favor of Proposition 8. This is difficult.

As a practicing Buddhist, I aim to seek understanding and to have compassion. Writing here I am trying to reach some understanding and compassion for my Christian brothers and sisters who have taken the stand to discriminate against a group of people for their sexuality. I know good Christians, people right here in my town, and they are good people. And yet, they have taken the stand of not embracing, not loving. It seems fundamentally wrong, and in opposition to the teachings of Christ, to not allow two people who love each other the right to join in marriage. When I married Leslie in 1995, we did so to share our love with our friends and family, to give the relationship a bit more sanctity, more seriousness, and make a lifetime commitment. Why wouldn’t we want this for gay couples? Aside from the high divorce rate in marriages, I see nothing but positive outcomes to allowing marriage between two people who love each other. It recognizes and honors the love between two people.


Perhaps you can pause here and watch the amazing 6-minute statement from Keith Olbermann of MSNBC – he covers the topic well.

My experience is this. My mom is gay and was in a loving relationship with her partner before she died. Though they had a living trust allowing her partner the right to make decisions, they still found it necessary to give me the Power of Attorney in case the State intervened in their lives. So, in addition to love there are also the legal rights associated with marriage to consider. Several gay couples I know got married in California in the last year. They are in loving, long term relationships and they were able to celebrate that commitment with marriage.

What is the threat to that? Where does the fear arise from? I know some who will read this, including friends and family, would have voted to pass proposition 8 that removes the right to gay marriage. I don’t want to get into a shouting match, but perhaps through loving communication I can sway your perspective a bit and perhaps I can come to a better understanding of your world view.

As my teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has said, people are not the enemy but ignorance and fear. Let’s talk.

  • lalcorn

    Beautiful post, Kenley. I, too, know kind, decent people who identify as Christian (and other things) who have this blind spot when it comes to homosexuality. They can't even bring themselves to say “it does not affect me one way or the other, so I shall let the will of the people decide”. Instead they feel the need to sway people's will, and even corrupt it. I don't understand. What is it they are so afraid of? Ignorance and fear are, indeed, the enemy. And they are legion. ~Louise.

  • fridacormorant

    Thank you, Kenley. I was directed here from the OP, where I have appreciated your thoughtful comments. I, too, consider myself a potential Christian, because I'm not sure I want to be associated with the implications of the broad label. I suppose I'm more than potentially bisexual. And I couldn't agree with you more. Looking at the words in red in the Bible, the conservative religious position on homosexuality seems completely at odds with the words and deeds of Jesus. I'm not a big fan of Paul's writings, but I do believe he got it right when he defined love in I Corinthians 13. It begins, ” If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” I have showed this scripture to Christians who supported Prop. 8, but all I heard in response was, well, noisy gongs and clanging cymbals.

    I really liked Keith Olberman's comment last night and posted a link on my blog. He said it beautifully: in this world where love is so fragile, how could anyone want to deny his fellow man or woman the right to try to love? Or words to that effect. I'm adding you to my blogroll. Thanks for your calm in the eye of the storm.

    http://fragileindustries.typepad.com

  • Thank you Louise for posting. Thank you for highlighting that it is not only Christians with the blind spot. Legion indeed.

  • Welcome friend. I am intrigued by your web site and have added it/you to my regular RSS feed. Looking forward to a continued conversation.

  • ErinL

    Hi, Kenley. I follow you on Twitter and saw the link to your post there. Thank you so much for putting this feeling into words. I am so happy that I live in an area (Santa Cruz) where gays face considerably less discrimination than in other parts of the country. However, the downside of growing up in this bubble is that is has always been so easy for me to write off people who don't think the same way I do about gay rights. The passage of Prop 8 was a big wake-up call—we really can't afford to dismiss “those people” who don't support equal rights for gays. In order to move forward, we're really going to have to conduct a “hearts and minds” campaign. I just don't know where to start… -Erin

  • I have received two comments via email that seem to indicate that fundamentalism may be the issue rather than simply calling out Christians. In fact, as one friend pointed out, fundamentalism does exist in all religious traditions, including Buddhism. My blog post is designed to highlight my feelings, my perspective, and it is clearly not the only viewpoint.

    Though I see fundamentalism as a cause of concern, I don't necessarily think that over 50% of the voters in California are fundamentalists but that “suspicion and fear” exist in many places. My observation of the election this year indicated a concerted effort on the part of Christian churches in California advocating a yes vote on proposition 8 through the pulpit, donations, and signs on their property. I also chose to focus on this religious aspect because of my own upbringing, my own practice today, and my desire to reconcile with my roots.

  • soulfulheart

    dear Kenley, i just got back from Germany and found your blog. thanks for sharing your heart. i was shocked when i read about Proposition 8. it pushed me to think again about my position and i'm grateful you share this video because it offers a very deep and new perspective, and much richer.

    i'm going to share it with other folks here.
    sending you much love…

    Sr. Hoodie.

  • fredila

    Who said that all religions had to be fair? Many have done quite nicely over the centuries by taking advantage of those who disagree with them.

    Fred

  • archi218

    thanks!

  • Lisa CS

    I found your web site through the eatlocaloneyear.com. You Rock! I love your blog. LocaVoreLisa

  • ” If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” beautiful post thanks for sharing.

  • I was present at the convention all week as a volunteer for Goodsoi

  • Hi there ~

    Thanks so much again by the way for reading my essays. I wanted to let you know that it's probably more accurate to say that although I write them, and they could not be written without my experiences in the nightmare of the world, that I channel them. When I sit down to write, already I start to get in my own way, I sit down to write about The Holy Spirit, about relationships, about the Ego, ect. ect….and all of a sudden I'll feel tense and blocked…what is this ? I accuse myself saying. You know about the Holy Spirit, you know about suffering, about the illusion of pain…why are you so blocked?

    “Ahh” says a small, still voice. “You're controlling again, you're working on your own power. You are not allowing the very power that led you to the spiritual awakening to to help you write. You can't be taught, you're mind is full. You sat down already knowing…in your intellectualized state, you've blocked out yourself, the Divine Love inside you.”

    What that means is that I've asked too little of God. I've “sauntered out into the world without checking in with love first ” (Marianne Williamson). That is what the Holy Spirit is there for; it's there to throw open the window the eternal love inside of us, which is the constant chain of love communication between Created and Creator. Human, and Divine.

    I am being very gently urged by the Spirit write you this: In our search for clarity and understanding in any situation, our only motive must be that “Our minds be healed, that We Return to Love.” (A Course in Miracles). Jesus said, “Bless those who act against you.” He was trying to open up our communication to a Higher Integrity,the Source of Pure Love. I came to the realization when I prayed every morning that my only intention in the complexity of my life situations, that myself, and those involved be healed, may we return to love, that in the limited logic of my mind, I haven't the slightest idea how to do that. But in opening my trust to God, in giving my day, my life, every moment to the capable hand of the Creator and source of the One powerful reality, love, I am then finally co-creating the environment of love that I and all of us seek. More petitions, blogs, websites, books, degrees, money, talk, etc. etc. won't, in and of themselves bring this about. God, the Creator of the Universe, Master of Science, Math, Anatomy and the Computer chip! Don't you think he knows how to make this tiny issue in the big spectrum of things, of whether homosexuals should or should not have a right to marry, right?

    Perfect love is the source of genius, and creativity. Plug into it, ask that the monkey of pain, frustration, hate anxiety and hopelessness on your back be removed to experience the peace, oneness, and harmony of perfect love.

    Ghandi said that “Changing the world lies not in changing the world, but in the power to change ourselves. “

    There are so many spiritual people, but how many powerful people are there? Powerful people depend on the real source of power; love or God. When you step back and allow the power of the universe to lead, your very presents changes people. You send out blessings to to others, you automatically bless yourself. You ask the Higher Integrity of your being to show you, to help you, to lead the way, you do not lose your power; you gain it for the first time.

  • Hi there ~

    Thanks so much again by the way for reading my essays. I wanted to let you know that it’s probably more accurate to say that although I write them, and they could not be written without my experiences in the nightmare of the world, that I channel them. When I sit down to write, already I start to get in my own way, I sit down to write about The Holy Spirit, about relationships, about the Ego, ect. ect….and all of a sudden I’ll feel tense and blocked…what is this ? I accuse myself saying. You know about the Holy Spirit, you know about suffering, about the illusion of pain…why are you so blocked?

    “Ahh” says a small, still voice. “You’re controlling again, you’re working on your own power. You are not allowing the very power that led you to the spiritual awakening to to help you write. You can’t be taught, you’re mind is full. You sat down already knowing…in your intellectualized state, you’ve blocked out yourself, the Divine Love inside you.”

    What that means is that I’ve asked too little of God. I’ve “sauntered out into the world without checking in with love first ” (Marianne Williamson). That is what the Holy Spirit is there for; it’s there to throw open the window the eternal love inside of us, which is the constant chain of love communication between Created and Creator. Human, and Divine.

    I am being very gently urged by the Spirit write you this: In our search for clarity and understanding in any situation, our only motive must be that “Our minds be healed, that We Return to Love.” (A Course in Miracles). Jesus said, “Bless those who act against you.” He was trying to open up our communication to a Higher Integrity,the Source of Pure Love. I came to the realization when I prayed every morning that my only intention in the complexity of my life situations, that myself, and those involved be healed, may we return to love, that in the limited logic of my mind, I haven’t the slightest idea how to do that. But in opening my trust to God, in giving my day, my life, every moment to the capable hand of the Creator and source of the One powerful reality, love, I am then finally co-creating the environment of love that I and all of us seek. More petitions, blogs, websites, books, degrees, money, talk, etc. etc. won’t, in and of themselves bring this about. God, the Creator of the Universe, Master of Science, Math, Anatomy and the Computer chip! Don’t you think he knows how to make this tiny issue in the big spectrum of things, of whether homosexuals should or should not have a right to marry, right?

    Perfect love is the source of genius, and creativity. Plug into it, ask that the monkey of pain, frustration, hate anxiety and hopelessness on your back be removed to experience the peace, oneness, and harmony of perfect love.

    Ghandi said that “Changing the world lies not in changing the world, but in the power to change ourselves. ”

    There are so many spiritual people, but how many powerful people are there? Powerful people depend on the real source of power; love or God. When you step back and allow the power of the universe to lead, your very presents changes people. You send out blessings to to others, you automatically bless yourself. You ask the Higher Integrity of your being to show you, to help you, to lead the way, you do not lose your power; you gain it for the first time.