Driving home from yoga early yesterday morning, I heard on the radio some commentary about this week’s Supreme Court decision to support same-sex marriage in California. As in typical journalistic fairness, there were voices on both sides.
Here’s what the opposing side sounded like:
“The Bible defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The Bible is truth and truth never changes.”
“I don’t believe in same-sex marriage so I don’t believe in the Supreme Court’s decision.”
Personally, I am thrilled with the Supreme Court’s ruling because I do not believe it is a government’s business to decide whom we should pair up with. And I also don’t believe it is anyone else’s business.
Marriage – defined as (ideally) lifelong committed relationships – is a personal matter, plain and simple. It is also a religious matter, and we live in a pluralistic society where we each treat marriage-the-institution differently, according to our values, beliefs and observances.
You may believe that two individuals of the same gender should not be romantically linked. It is your right to believe that. So don’t link up with another person of your gender. Do your heterosexual thing and pray silently for the welfare of others.
Just don’t preach about it.
That’s the thing. We live in a secular society devoted to welcoming a variety of individuals with a variety of heritages and traditions. We have always been a melting pot – and I know, early on in the history of this country, and even somewhat today in many locales, individuals of non-white, non-Christian origin are not celebrated quite as readily as the white, Christian majority.
But people are people. Close your eyes and run your fingers along the skin of another person’s arm. Can you feel a difference if the person is African-American or Hispanic? No.
Close your eyes and listen to the cadence of a person’s voice waxing poetic about her lover. If she doesn’t say a name, do you care if she’s talking about a woman? Does her ardent admiration sound any different than if the object of her affection were a man?
In my new book, I write about how bread brings people together and bridges religious divides. I’ve said in interviews with media that when you break bread with people and sit across a table from them, you can’t hate them. You can’t believe that a living, breathing person is wrong. You see their heart, you see their innate human-ness, you see them responding to the softness of the bread in the same way that you do, and instantly, there is kinship.
The same can be said for love. Loving another is the ultimate gift, and being loved is what keeps us all alive.
We don’t really choose who we love. A force far larger than any of us drives us toward our intended life partners, toward our families and our offspring and our best friends. There are some relationships that last just a little while and others that are meant to underlie a lifetime. Some relationships transcend this world.
We were not born to judge others. We were born to make a difference in this world, in this lifetime, and to make meaning out of very ordinary things. Yesterday morning, I changed the sheets on all the beds with my children and we laughed and hugged because we were together. Changing the beds an elevating task? It all depends on how much love is in the room.
As far as DOMA is concerned, leave well enough alone. If two people are lucky enough to find a love worth sustaining throughout their lives, celebrate that. It does not matter what gender they are. It does not matter what you personally believe. You really have no role in their union, in their love. Your only job is to be the best example of a good person that you can be. And that is an entirely individual pursuit.