Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Human Face of Same Sex Marriage

I recently became involved in a discussion on Facebook about same sex marriage. I generally avoid these sorts of situations. Discussions such as the one I got myself involved in generally become banal and rather frustrating. They usually don't end up very well. Sure, the back and forth is interesting, for a while. In the end the narrative is always the same: one side blames the other for being (circle one: ignorant, uneducated, defensive, stupid) while the other side generally resorts to accusing the other as (circle one: ignorant, uneducated, defensive, stupid). Facts are provided. Facts are disputed. Both parties, in the end, become something akin to a dog, tied to a stake, running around in circles tearing up all the grass.

The end of the conversation went something like this:

Irreverent Psychologist
It is a typical move of both the right and left to resort to calling the other names, or poking fun at education or ability, or some other quality not related to the topic at hand. I did indeed write that arguments against same sex marriage that involve fear about brothers, sisters, goats, or dogs being married is dumb. I wrote that because it is a dumb argument. I didn't say you were dumb.
Facebook Member
Jason, what human right is being denied?
Irreverent Psychologist
Um, dignity to lead a life, make choices, and love without having to engage in public debates about whether one is deserving of the same rights and privileges that everyone else has. That's a good place to start.
Facebook Member
I assure you Jason that [same sex couples] are not denied any of those things. [People] are free to marry anyone you like as long as they are of age, not related and of the opposite sex. Just like everyone else. There are no separate laws for people who prefer to have sex with only people possessing similar genitals. After all, it is a preference.
It was an remarkably uninteresting and uninspired conversation. It did, however, get me to thinking about collecting some of the human stories of what happens to same-sex couples who aren't afforded a legally sanctioned marriage. The human experience of this, in the end, is what holds the most interest for me. One can easily become distracted by abstract notions of morality and values while losing sight of the grounded human experience. We forget when having debates about the so-called culture wars that real people with real lives are suffering from decisions that are made (and decisions that are not made). 

It is easy for one to forget their own position of privilege, if one is offered the ability for a legally sanctioned marriage. The anonymous Facebook contributor certainly had no idea of his own position of privilege. I think that one also easily forgets the painful folly it is to require a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person to have to defend their own right to be treated the same as everyone else. 

So I'm doing some searching for stories that put a human face to this dialogue. Here is one story of how one person has suffered. I ask you, next time you find yourself debating the culture wars, to look deep down inside for your own humanity and compassion. Think about the lives that are effected by the decisions you are making.

This clip is long--yet worth watching. Take your time and listen to it at your leisure. It's important. If you have an interesting story to share, e-mail me so I can post it here. Most importantly, come back to my blog again for more stories. 

If you want to know more about Charlene Strong check out here blog, check her out on Twitter, or watch the movie For My Wife.

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