Next month, the Anglican Church of Canada is debating gay marriage and the changing of the Marriage Canon. Â The House of Bishops is unlikely to pass the motion . . . and this issue will drag on and on . . . as the French statement says, “Plus Ă§a change, plus c’est la mĂŞme chose!”
As an openly gay man I have encountered very little face-to-face resistance to my sexual orientation. Though I have friends who have had to literally defend their physical space against people who wished them harm, I have been lucky. Iâ€™ve grown up in quiet anonymity, immune to many of the harsh barbs that my fellow gay men and women have had to endure all their lives. Mistakenly, I thought this was a sign that I was being heard, that my life was being validated as equal to those around me.
Over the many years I have spent time with loved ones: friends, family and those who have supported and loved me without reservation over the years, I have come to recognize that their acceptance and support does not always translate into understanding. This leads me to question what I had come to know about support as opposed to true understanding.
In all these instances weâ€™re talking about people who honour their relationships with their gay family and friends and would never think of intentionally causing pain. These scenarios donâ€™t scream injustice, but the underlying voices donâ€™t really call for tolerance or ask for change through actions or votes. As a matter of fact, I believe itâ€™s this kind of complacency and quiet acquiescence that has slowed the progress of gay rights throughout the years.
To put things more clearly into perspective, if you are part of a heterosexual, married couple with children, imagine the following:
After you met your spouse, you probably dated for a while, your feelings for each other grew, and you fell in love with one another. After some time passed, you decided that you wanted to marry, and that you wanted to have children, raise a family and share your lives together. So far, so good. Now imagine that you couldnâ€™t do any of this, that your government told you that you could not marry this person, that doing so was against the law of the land. Imagine that society said to you, â€śThose children you want to have? Well, thatâ€™s ridiculous. You canâ€™t seriously think that you should be allowed to raise children. Thatâ€™s just wrong, and, oh, itâ€™s also against the law. Now that we think of it, itâ€™s probably not enough to say that you canâ€™t get married. Letâ€™s vote on a constitutional amendment to make sure you canâ€™t get married.â€ť If this happened to you, where do you think youâ€™d find yourself today?
For those of you who think that my opposition to people, or groups, who espouse these views, let me ask you to imagine something else. Simply replace the word â€śgayâ€ť in these arguments with the word â€śJew,â€ť or â€śAfrican Canadian,â€ť or â€śwoman,â€ť or â€śperson with a learning disability,â€ť or “Christian,” or “Muslim.” Â Imagine that â€śno Christian/Jew/Muslim can marryâ€ť is the mantra of our country, and Christians/Jews/Muslims canâ€™t have kids, because thatâ€™s also against the law. Now, what does this Christian/Jew/Muslim do? Should he/she ignore a particular individual’s or group’s actively hostile discrimination because, you know, he/she agrees with the individualâ€™s or group’s stance against the issue of changing the rules of the marriage canon? Is that the â€śone issueâ€ť he should choose to focus on while the basic tenets of â€śall men are created equalâ€ť are being denied to him?
That cheap vacation youâ€™re taking? Letâ€™s say that one of your children grew up to be someone who was ostracized by a government (like any number in the Anglican Worldwide Communion). All this talk about â€śmaking the world a better place for our childrenâ€ť means very little if their feelings, their relationships and their very equality are legally void in the eyes of the government. Furthermore, every single person who visits a place like some of these countries (and supports their economy) is providing that government with one less reason to change.
The truth is that Iâ€™m not worried about my way of life or a cheaper vacation. I can figure out how to live my life with fewer dollars. What I canâ€™t afford is to try to live my life without the proper measure of respect. When next choosing how to vote or spend your dollars, I implore you to think about these so-called â€śone-issue voters at General Synod.â€ť What it comes down to is how a person chooses to spend his or her currency of support and acceptance in life: People can fund ignorance, luxury and even convenience, but it could be at the expense of the respect and dignity of those they purport to love. Or you could recognize that this is about so much more than just one issue. Itâ€™s about every issue, and it affects every one of us. Letâ€™s try to make that our â€śone issueâ€ť to understand.
This website provides a good analysis (a little academic) on the stance of various denominations on “being gay-friendly“. Â An interesting read.