Like many other people of faith, I have pondered over same-sex marriage in my heart, and prayed over it.
This week, of course, the eyes of the nation turn to the US Supreme court as it considers a couple of important cases on the topic.
Here is the main reason I support same-sex marriage:
You’ve heard of the Golden Rule?
Here is the Platinum rule: Don’t be a hypocrite.
If something is precious to you (like, you know, marriage, family), realize that it’s precious to others. If you want to be able to visit your loved ones in a hospital, or have rights to inheritance, or an equitable divorce, or have society recognize your family as in fact being a family, recognize that these are also important to all of us, including gays and lesbians.
This is the reason that I ultimately came over from the cautious supporting “civil union” side to supporting full marriage. We don’t want a society in which some people are “kind of” married, sort of married. We don’t want a two-tiered model of marriage. We don’t want a two-tiered model of justice. We don’t want a two-tiered model of citizenship. A two-tiered justice is not justice, and a two-tiered citizenship is not real citizenship.
I realized that there are some, including many of my own co-religionists who object to homosexuality on religious grounds. And yes, I have not forgotten that existing interpretations of shari’a so far prohibit same-sex activity. Fine, that’s our business, our own internal religious conversation. But we are here talking about the state recognizing a marriage, not a state dictating to religious traditions what they should or should not teach.
So I see it as something similar to selling alcohol in grocery stores. Muslims shouldn’t drink alcohol. Fine, that is our right and our choice. But if others want to sell alcohol, go ahead. Muslims shouldn’t eat pepperoni, but we don’t keep other people from putting pepperoni and bacon on their pizza.
And do me a favor, and don’t insult my intelligence or yours by talking about slippery slopes to pedophilia, bestiality, or polygamy. Don’t go all Rick Santorum on me. We are talking about consenting adults here. Consenting human adults.
More and more Muslims are speaking out in favor of a holistic conception of justice, one that recognizes that we are all in this together. We recognize that a threat to justice anywhere–to gays/lesbians–is a threat to justice anywhere–including our own rights. One brilliant and courageous exa
mple is the first Muslim elected to the US Congress, Keith Ellison. In his speeches, he strongly stands for same-sex marriage rights by stating:
If the person who you happen to love and want to be with happens to be the same gender as you then I say God bless you and go out and be as happy as you can be.
On his official website, Congressman Ellison has come out strongly in favor of marriage equality as part of his overall platform. He states:
I believe in expanding marriage rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples and to have those marriages recognized by other states and the federal government. I strongly support repealing the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, which actively denies marriage rights and recognition to same-sex couples.
Ultimately, here is what it came down to: my support for same-sex civil rights is not based on some new theological discovery. It’s not based on changing poll numbers in America, even though now 56% of Americans now support same-sex marriage. Somewhere as a Muslim child of Dr. King, I remember Brother Martin teaching us:
A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
Mrs. Coretta Scott King, in fact, made a number of statements that made it clear she understood that Martin’s holistic conception of justice would have encompassed gay/lesbian rights:
I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people. … But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’
I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.
I could look to another hero, the anti-apartheid, the South African peace activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner:
This is a matter of ordinary justice. We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about — our very skin. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups. …. For me this struggle is a seamless robe. Opposing apartheid was a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination against women is a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a matter of justice.
It is also a matter of love. Every human being is precious. We are all — all of us — part of God’s family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honor. Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for what they are.
No, the reason that I support same-sex marriage is much simpler: my children go to school with other children who have two mommies. Over the last few years, I have seen these families show the same love, affection, and attention on their children that my own heterosexual family does. Love is love. Family is family, though they come in different shapes.
My children have gay and lesbian friends. They belong a social club at school that is an alliance of straight, gay, lesbian, and bi-sexual students. The name of the club is simply G.L.O.W.
Live and let live.
If it’s important to you to be married and have your love recognized by the state, recognize that it is important to others.
Some would say, as Jesus said: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” [Matthews 7:12.]
Some would say, as the Prophet Muhammad said: “Do not do onto others what you dislike for yourself.”
If that doesn’t work for you, listen to a comedian. Here is the profound wisdom of Chris Rock:
Gays and Lesbians deserve to be as miserable in marriage as the rest of us.
[Sometimes a profound satire gets to the heart of the matter much faster than a thousand theological reflections do.]
Why should we straight people have all the fun. Misery loves company. 🙂
Jokes aside, I says: Be kind.
Don’t be a jerk.
Do not approach your fellow human beings out of fear and anger.
As we were told by the great Sufi saint Yoda: Fear is the path to the Dark Side.
Family is family, love is love.
Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever.