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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

GAY MARRIAGE – MAKING IT PERSONAL

This coming Saturday I will be getting married to my partner of the
last 10 years. We've known each other for 16 years but when I decided
to leave the Roman church and become a chaplain for hospice I came to
know love and acceptance as never before. I also discovered the power
of integrity. No longer shrouded in secrecy or shame I discovered
pride. Not the sin of pride, but the virtue of living in the light of
one's truth at any cost.

When first asked to move to Kingman I was hesitant. Mistakenly I
thought this would be an unwelcoming community where it would be best
to keep out of sight, under the radar. But from the very first day
when the papers in Phoenix were printing my decision to leave the
Roman church I found celebratory acceptance here in Kingman first
through my new employer.

Today we are stepping into the light full of pride. Gay love as we
grew up into full adulthood was in the shadows. Forbidden, condemned
and subject to imprisonment, certainly the loss of career and social
standing. It simply was not possible. Even when gay pride changed the
tide to make it possible to be out and proud the idea of same sex
marriage was simply not on the table. . However our society has grown
to understand gay love is love.

There was a time early in our relationship when I said that "if you
ever come between me and the altar, you will be history." Surprisingly
enough, this man who doesn't share my faith has brought me more
authentically to the altar and has done it with great love and
personal sacrifice. For now I come to the altar with integrity and it
is the altar of true thanksgiving and love.

George has more than surprised me in his enthusiasm to make this a big
deal. More surprising was his response to my somewhat kidding question
if we were going to put this in the newspaper "milestone"
announcements. He said he had been thinking about it since "WE OWE IT
TO THE YOUNGER GAYS". Several in town have come out to us, yet not to
family, coworkers, or friends. The peak of the mountain has yet to be
reached. The harsh reality is that one can still be fired just for
being gay. We have yet to have equal protection in employment and a
host of other issues.

As a priest who had prepared couples and celebrated marriages for over
40 years the broader acceptance of marriage is wonderful news.. The
first gay marriage I officiated was between a lesbian couple here in
Kingman shortly after the Ninth Circuit Court lifted the ban late last
year. The Church says marriage is NOT just about the two of you
marrying. It is about bearing witness to society about love,
commitment, sacrifice, and whatever it takes to maintain a loving
relationship. Marriage is life giving not just for each other but for
society. Gay marriage does not weaken the institution of marriage. It
makes it stronger; more meaningful for all.

As two gay men it is testimony that being gay is much more than sex.
Different as we may be, we desire a relationship. We desire someone to
rely on and to grow old with. As two already old men, it is a
testament to our love that we are willing to take each other in
sickness and in health till death do us part.

All the more important is the witness we bear to the blood, sweat,
tears and sacrifices made by those who have made this day possible for
us.

We do not, as far as I am aware, ever talk about martyrdom in
relationship to marriage. That is, I've never heard marriage talked
about in terms of the blood shed to make marriage possible. We talk
about martyrs in relationship to faith, country and freedom but not
about the love of two people that declares themselves to one another.
Yet here it is. My marriage is founded on the sacrifices and the blood
not just of the last ten or twenty years, but on the length of history
itself. My freedom to marry legally today has been forged in prisons,
death camps, gay bashings, murders, executions which sadly still
exists today. It is the history of the pink triangle to the rainbow.

The modern heroes from Oscar Wilde to Harvey Milk, from Richard Baker
and James McConnell in 1970 to the couples still fighting the battles
in states yet to legalize marriage. The list is too long to mention
here. We are still in the struggle for justice, we owe it to those who
have lost life or treasure, those who put themselves at risk to battle
for my love today to be public and proud in declaring our love and
commitment to each other.

Ultimately any marriage is an expression of faith in each other. Faith
which comes from God is a foundation that "no man can divide".

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