Getting political

Well, actually, I don’t like to get very political — not here, not on Facebook or anywhere else. It is unfortunately either an exercise in futility, or a simple matter of preaching to the choir in the echo chamber. Still, with the cases about California’s Prop 8 and DOMA before the Supreme Court today, I decided why not. Also, it seemed to overlap with other areas that were on my mind. (Apologies for any fuzziness; I have a cold that’s getting worse as the day goes on.)

First, let’s talk Catholicism. I was born and raised Catholic, baptized, and have received all the sacraments I am eligible for at this time. That is: baptism, reconciliation, communion, and confirmation. Although I had a Catholic ceremony when I married, it was not the sacrament because my husband is, well, a heathen — he is not part of any organized religion, and has not been baptized into anything. But he’s my heathen, and I love him very much.

And the truth is, I suppose I’ve become something of a heathen myself, or we can say “lapsed Catholic.” Like a lot of people, I’m sure, I started having doubts in high school (thank you to the French teacher who tried to teach us Existentialism) and they only went on in college. How could all of these other people be wrong? What about people who were never exposed to the teachings and ideas of Christ? Are they doomed because of circumstances beyond their control? That’s crazy.

What I really found as I got older and met more people and had more experiences was that what the Church was telling me simply didn’t gel with my personal experiences. Shall we name a few?

* Being counseled on marriage by a man — good man though he might be — had sworn off both marriage and sex. I think it’s one thing to say, get counseling from someone who doesn’t have the exact experience — after all, not everyone gets married, or has been abused, or whatever — but it’s another to get it from someone who has sworn never to do it.

* Being told during a pre-Cana retreat that birth control methods like the Pill and a vasectomy contribute to poor communication and hence poor marriages. Right, tell that to my parents who have been married for 46 years (yow!) and did both.

* In fact, realizing that the retreat was so focused on birth control as to be almost useless. I remember two other things: one, advice that whoever kept the checkbook should receive the receipts from the one who does not. Two — and I’m sure this was not intentional — that a child that a woman had out of wedlock was somehow “second class” compared to the child she had with the man she later married.

* Realizing that the Church considered the religious marriage ceremony of my straight friends was more moral than that of the commitment ceremony my gay friends had in the Episcopal Church. This, after my straight friends obtained a minister because the location of the wedding required it. This, after my gay friends had studied, converted to the Episcopalian faith, joined various committees and wrote their own ceremony.

* The Church considers children an important part of marriage; you are in fact asked if you are open to having children when you begin the pre-Cana process.  Yet again, my straight friends have decided not to have kids (which I think was the right decision for them), and my gay friends adopted two children from a home where “troubled” is only the beginning of the story.

* As we found out in the 90s and 00s, how utterly hypocritical it is to be lectured to by an institution who took steps to protect predators, but not the children they molested and raped. I was on the naughty list because I lived with my husband before we got married; but priests with serious issues who endangered and attacked children should be forgiven, not reported to the authorities, and shuffled off to quieter pastures.

* One thing that got me, and I think it was during the late 90s, was when I read about a letter from a Church official or priest that recommended active discrimination against gays. I can’t remember the details (sorry) but it had to do with not letting them teach, things like that. All I could think was, what a horribly un-Christian thing to do to a group of people.

The Church, and the Christian right, seems awfully focused on what you should not do, and should not do the way they say. Hey, you’re entitled to your beliefs — but you don’t get to force them on me. I don’t see how my everyday actions, presuming I am not attempting to harm or rob you, affect you all that much.

I love the argument that gay marriage is a threat to hetero marriage. Really? Prove it. I have been married almost thirteen years, as have the friends I’ve mentioned above, and another couple who married when their locality allowed it. They must be close to ten years now. Just how does their marriage affect me any more than, say, Ralph Reed’s does?

Answer: it doesn’t.

Study after study is showing that kids raised by gay couples show no more or less problems than those who are raised by straight couples. So that argument’s gone. Those friends who adopted? They received three children at once the first time, and the 2yo boy was non-verbal. Not speaking. Now he’s in school and doing well. They should have left him in the system until someone else came along? Let’s face it, most people are reluctant to take problem kids, and with reason — they take more time and energy than healthy kids, who require a ton on their own. I think people, gay or straight, who take that on deserve applause.

Marriage does not need defending from gay people. It needs defending from people who see it as the only way to do things; who think that people should stay in bad or dangerous marriages because, well, they promised, never mind that someone’s breaking the promise.

And isn’t funny with the kids? These same people who are shouting about pro-life, making abortion (which is a health care issue) more and more difficult to get — what are they doing for the children who are born, and the mothers (and fathers) who have them? It’s like once the kids are here, the job is done. That’s bullshit — that’s when the job starts.

So what do I hope? I hope Prop 8 is struck down, even if narrowly, and I hope DOMA is struck down as well. We are in the middle of a big period of change, I think, and change never goes down well. But it has to start somewhere, and here’s hoping SCOTUS gets us moving.

I probably wanted to say more but I’m beat. Also, I’m sorry for the lack of links, but you won’t have trouble finding any.




6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by estragon on March 27, 2013 at 12:32 am

    SA Penn Lady, it’s not the “Episcopalian faith”, it’s the Catholic faith, but without the Bishop of Rome. If you like, you can visit our church when you’re next in NYC, and see for yourself.


    • Well, Episcopalian faith or church, it’d different enough to require a person to convert to Catholicism, as my mother did when I was little. And while that church may not be under the gun with scandal as the Catholic Church is, it is not without its problems.


  2. Posted by David Tower on March 27, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Thank you for a great article. I’m recommending it to a friend who does politics for reposting.

    I’m a lapsed Anglican (Episcopalian) and we are undergoing what I colorfully refer to as “Schism II: Electric Boogaloo” where the more “conservative” (read anti-gay) elements are trying to force a change that closely resembles Roman Catholicism. As a former alter boy, I was taught acceptance by my church. For all. It breaks my heart to watch institutions founded on “loving thy neighbor” driving down a path that resembles the 14th century, not the 21st.


    • Posted by estragon on March 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      Mr Tower, the “conservatives” have left already. May they go in peace. The rest of us are still here.


    • Thanks for your comment. It is sad, to say the least, when followers of a man who exhorted people to love the sinner, to love your neighbor as yourself, seem to do nothing but find reasons to exclude those neighbors.


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