May 10, 2012

Why I Can't Believe I Have to Support Equality

Equality isn't something that humans should aspire to. It's not something that we as a society should try to achieve. It's not something to be admired or something to celebrate.

Equal. It's how all human beings are born.

Perhaps the recognition of this equality is something to aspire to, celebrate, and is something that all societies should strive to achieve. But as for equality itself, it's not assigned. It's not designated. It's not something to be given. It's instilled in us by the very nature of our existence.

The failure of the American society to understand this shames me as a citizen. I am embarrassed for my fellow countrymen. I am always proud that this country was founded on ideals far ahead of its time, but sometimes I am not proud to be an American. The ideals that serve as the backbone of this country are passed our time now. 236 years ago, when the Declaration of Independence was signed, this nation had so much to look forward to. It became a place where dreamers could go and see their hopes realized. It was a place of refuge for outcasts. It was a place of opportunity.

I feel as though the way the world views us, the way we should view ourselves, has diminished. We are a cold nation, inhospitable to our own citizens, and unyielding to foreigners. Right now, only those who adhere to the System for their life are blessed with the chance to obtain that illustrious "American Dream".  Dreamers are fewer and further between, and who can blame them when what this nation has become so good at is squashing aspirations? Outcasts still cry to us for help, and we look the other way, because how can we be bothered with their woes when we have tax cuts to worry about on this side of the pond?

It was inequality that once sparked the movement of the creation of this country, and it is inequality that has brought it now to a screeching halt. The desire for acceptance was the fan for the flame. And now, here are are in 2012, and we've just come so far, haven't we? Look at all we've accomplished in the past 100 years even. Women can vote! Imagine that! Blacks aren't destined serve white's in their homes anymore, and they're even allowed to use the same public toilets. Go figure. We even trust our government to keep the Communists and suicide-bombers away. I guess this is how so many of us sleep at night. (In case you need help, yes, I'm being sarcastic right here.)

This past week's news headlines have been buzzing with the latest updates on this country's internal battle concerning same-sex marriage. First there was Vice-President Joe Biden affirming his and the rest of the White House's official stance on the matter. Then came North Carolina, an infamous swing-state, with their constitutional ban against the notion. And yesterday, our very own President (a black one at that! oh my stars!) took the time to personally "affirm" that gay couples should be able to marry legally in this country.

While this is probably far from the most pressing issue facing the United States right now, it's certainly one that always gets a lot of attention nationwide. It kills me that this is an issue, that it's an issue of equality, and that it's something people in this country feel the need to choose a side on. Again, human beings are born the same. We are inherently equal. I am very aware of the conservative Christian's reasoning behind the overwhelming stance against the legalization of same-sex marriage on a federal (and state) level. I've read the Bible, I know what it says about homosexuality (which, when you consider other topics that it covers such as love, kindness, and mercy, is very little indeed). But I also know what the Bible says about how humans need to treat each other. I know what it says about how God views our hearts. I know what it says about the importance of love.

Have all of the other Christian's forgotten this? I am angry that I'm in a position where I have to say that I am in favor of the legalization of gay marriage. I've said this before and I'll say it again: When I die and am judged finally, I would much rather be judged for having loved too much, than for not having loved enough. Having to take this "position" angers me because I do not believe issues of equality should exist in the first place. If we're all equal, why is this a problem? Equality doesn't get to pick and choose which parts of the human existence it applies to. Are brunettes more equal to each other than blonde's? Are mother's more equal to each other than women who choose not to have children? Does this sound ridiculous? It should. If it doesn't--and I'm going to be very blunt about this--there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Instead of putting effort into hating people who are your equals, take a minute and figure out what the matter with you is, and spend your effort fixing that.

In an episode of Mad Men (gotta love that show, right?) one of the characters says to Don that "nobody knows what's wrong with themselves. And everyone else can see it right away". Ponder that for a moment and see what you come up with.

This country fails me as a citizen in many ways, but at this moment, I feel disappointed in this nation because of it's hypocrisy. Consistent cries for equality for various groups of people throughout our history, and this is where we are today: in a full fledged political battle over the right to marry. There are those who insist that a "civil union" of sorts would suffice, and let me tell you, while that's a step in the right direction, it's very half-assed. This is how I see it:

In the short time that I was married to Sean, I reaped many (if not all) of the great legal and social benefits that this country provides to "married couples". I took his last name, I filed jointly on my tax return, I had a joint checking account, and both of our names were on the title of our car. This stuff is trivial. When Sean was dying and it was all happening so suddenly, and we hadn't ever sat down and talked about his end-of life wishes let alone signed any legal documents indicating his intent, I, being his legal spouse, became authorized to make those decisions on his behalf. And who was I? A girl he had been married to for a year and a half? Someone he had met in college? The pain in his neck who was always forcing liquids down his throat? And I was called upon to decide whether to shove an enormous tube down his airway to keep him breathing, whether or not to allow the hospital staff to crack his chest in an attempt to restart his heart after his own body had told it to cease, and when the precise moment to "unplug" him would be. I'll tell you, there are a lot of unanswered questions that I have constantly floating around in my mind, but one thing I know for certain. When I was making these decisions for my husband, at the ripe old age of 22, there wasn't even a moment in its slightest when those decisions were made based on our  government-issued title of "marriage". Every single choice I made was based solely, exclusively, on what I knew in my heart Sean would have wanted for himself at that moment. Those decisions that I made had nothing to do with the fact that we were married. It was purely based on our relationship and my understanding of who he was, and what he valued for himself.

Being in a same-sex relationship affords itself the same closeness to each other that Sean and I had. We didn't love each other because we were married. Being married was a legal proceeding we chose to partake in in order to honor our commitment to each other. The people of this country who work so hard at keeping homosexuals from having equal rights as heterosexuals would do well to open their eyes, their minds, their hearts, and realize that marriage isn't so much about what's on the license you sign as it is about the relationship and the commitment that is housed between two human beings. And the same-sex couples out there who might find themselves discouraged at the constant attacks on their equal rights would do well to remember to keep their chins up, because you don't need a piece of paper to know that you're in a committed, loving relationship.

I very much understand why same-sex couples fight so hard and so passionately for the right to have marriage legally recognized for them. And I more than understand the emotions and humanity behind things that they strive to win over--such as the legal right to be recognized as next of kin for the purpose of acting as a medical proxy. What I do not understand is why any of this is an issue at all. Shame. That's the only word I can conceive at this point to describe what I feel towards this country. Shame that a nation that was once so optimistic, forward-thinking, progressive, and accepting has turned into nothing but a country that can only be likened to a 2 year old throwing a tantrum over which color spoon she gets to hold.

It will never sit right with me that this nation even has issues of equality. Issues of economy, sure. Health care, why not? But equality--this shouldn't be something that I have to support to begin with. So shame on America for letting us get this far to begin with. Shame on America for claiming to be founded on Christian principles when we cannot find it in ourselves to display love, or to recognize it. Shame on America for creating its own inequality.

1 comment:

  1. So Beautifully written. If you still lived in Salt Lake we could have been great friends. I love reading your blog.