Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's About Who We Love

When I came out to my four youngest children over 1-1/2 years ago, I explained that most of the time, men fall in love with women and women fall in love with men. Sometimes, however, men fall in love with other men, and women fall in love with other women. 

I went on to explain that Mark and I are in love with each other, and that sometimes men who love other men are called "gay."  It isn't "wrong," it isn't "weird," it's just different, and a lot of people don't understand it.  Some people, I explained, even think it's wrong or bad - even some people in our own family.  But those people just don't understand.

I could also have added that sometimes when people don’t understand something, they are afraid of it. And sometimes people who should know better prey on that fear and lack of understanding in others to advance their own purposes.

We’ve seen a lot of that going on in Utah of late. There are a lot of people in this state, just like in other states and regions of the country, that have “evolved” on issues relating to homosexuality. They no longer believe that it is a “choice.” And this evolution is crucial, because once people understand that gay people truly are “born this way,” a lot of the other stereotypes, prejudices and just plain ignorant beliefs fall by the wayside. I applaud such persons.

But there are still a lot of people who don’t understand gay people. At all. These people have a fundamentally different view of the reality of gay people than do gay people. Somehow, we have to continue to try to bridge that gap.

It’s about who we love. Most men fall in love with other women. But some fall in love with other men. It’s that simple.

And it is real love. Last Valentine’s Day, I wrote a blog post about what it felt like to me to truly fall in love for the first time in my life after having been married to my former wife for over 20 years. I expressed some of my thoughts and emotions at that time in a journal I would someday give my daughter:
“It was only recently that I discovered what it felt like to be in love, what it felt like to fall in love. And it was and is truly wonderful. Every person should have the opportunity to feel those feelings … to be able to ‘get it’ when they listen to a love song on the radio … to feel the excitement that comes from hearing a beloved’s voice, of merely being in the same room together. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience what it feels like to hold one’s beloved, to experience the emotional, physical and spiritual pleasure that comes from being intimate with one’s beloved … 
“Love is really, in a sense, the essence of what it means to be human … and I have traveled over 50 years to find the exhilarating, revelatory, fulfilling, wonder-ful love that I have found with Mark …”
If Utahns who are happily married in traditional marriages had to face the prospect of their government telling them that their relationship is invalid and could not be legally recognized, I think perhaps there might be greater understanding of what it means to gay Utahns to be treated the way they are by the State of Utah.

This is why I found this concluding paragraph of Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling so powerful and meaningful:
"Rather than protecting or supporting the families of opposite-sex couples, Amendment 3 perpetuates inequality by holding that the families and relationships of same-sex couples are not now, nor ever will be, worthy of recognition ... [T]he Constitution protects the Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights, which include the right to marry and the right to have that marriage recognized by their government. These rights would be meaningless if the Constitution did not also prevent the government from interfering with the intensely personal choices an individual makes when that person decides to make a solemn commitment to another human being. The Constitution therefore protects the choice of one’s partner for all citizens, regardless of their sexual identity [emphasis added]."
It really is about who we love.

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