When we were children we saw the world without filters. We were less judgmental, we held fewer grudges, and our enemies one day became our friends the next. Life was simpler then. We had no allegiances nor did we have prejudices, we just had what was in front of us, what we could see, feel, taste, smell and hear. We didn't analyze life because we didn't know how. It was what it was. Then we grew up.
As adults we began to filter through the lens of experience. We had no choice, it's part of growing up. We formed prejudices and made judgments which were based upon a combination of things including our own experiences, the experiences of others, our need to be accepted and our concerns for what others would think of us. We learned words can hurt and actions have consequences. We were exposed to harshness, cruelty and negativity. We realized we had to take sides and when we did that our friends suddenly became our enemies and our enemies suddenly became our friends. We also learned that life isn't fair, not everyone is equal and things aren't always what they seem.
I have always tried to be an open-minded, fair and balanced person. As far back as I can remember I have taken a good look at all sides of the issues before weighing in with opinions or making decisions. I made my choices based on my ability to filter the information I received and it wasn't always easy. Throughout my life I learned that experience is a great teacher and that as we get older, we tend to get wiser, or so that's how it is supposed to be. And so this leads me to something that has been on my mind recently.
I have known openly gay people since I was 20 years old. One of the most important people in my life was a really awesome guy named Mike and he was gay. Mike was intelligent, macho and manly in every way, stereotypical frat boy with all around good looks and personality to match. When I found out he was gay I was like "so what?" and life went on. He was my friend, he was there for me when I needed him, we talked, we laughed, we cried together. There's no way I could have turned my back on him. Mike introduced me to a bunch of other guys all who were gay and they took me in like we were related. They were essentially like big brothers to me. We had the best times. When we went out barhopping or dancing at nightclubs, I didn't see them as gay, I just saw them as my guy friends. These guys were awesome and they were well-liked and had gay and straight friends because they were good people. Like me, all they wanted was to be able to live their lives just like anyone else, to be accepted for the kind of people they were without facing ridicule or discrimination.
When my own sister came out of the closet several years ago, it was not a big deal, at least not to me and not to my family or my sister's closest friends. Once again I thought "so what?" and then I moved on. To me, my sister is the same blond-haired blue-eyed little devil child whose hair I used to pull when we were kids. Sure I'm 41 now and she's 40 but she's still the little girl I grew up with, the little girl I used to taunt and who used to taunt me back. She's the same sister who shot me in the leg with a bee bee gun. The same sister who used to side with me to gang up against our older brother and get him in trouble. When I found out she was gay, I thought, "ok so you're gay, anything good on TV tonight?" That's how much I cared---I didn't care. She's my sis. For life. Her being gay doesn't matter to me, it doesn't define who she is, the kind of person she is defines that.
These thoughts bring me to the issue of gay marriage and the fact that this nation is divided over it. I think about my gay friends and family members and ask myself why they shouldn't be allowed to get married to someone of the same gender. What is the big deal? How does a gay marriage threaten traditional marriage? How does it threaten society? I've wracked my brain and I cannot come up with an answer to these questions essentially proving to me that the only answer is that there is no threat. Of course there are those are convinced that it will lead to the perversity, dysfunction and degradation of society. Sorry to burst the bubble but we're already there and it has nothing to do with gay people wanting to get married. Besides, how can it be a bad thing for two people who love one another to want to share their lives together? How can it be a bad thing if those same two people want to adopt kids, especially kids who otherwise have no home? How can doing something good and positive for society possibly be immoral and wrong? My answer is it can't be.
The more I think about the fact that in most states in this nation gay people are not allowed to get married, the angrier I get at the ignorance and close mindedness that surrounds us. What business does our government have in marriage anyway? What right does the Congress of this Nation have in proposing laws that regulate marriage? What right does the President of the United States have to sign a "Defense of Marriage" Act anyway? Why should it be the government's business? Exactly! It shouldn't be the their business!
Though it may be portrayed as such at times, this is not an issue related to one particular political party. Though it is true that Republicans are often identified as the main opponents of gay marriage there are just as many who vote Democrat who are against it too. Our own Democrat President and high ranking Democrat members of Congress are against it. In my opinion, this is more about religious beliefs. While not all people with religious beliefs or even a belief in God believe that gay marriage is wrong, it seems that the opposition to it stems directly from religious doctrine. I was raised in a Christian-Jewish household. My parents taught us to accept others and appreciate our differences. I was not brought up to hate or discriminate and I was not brought up on a specific religious doctrine that preaches homosexuality is evil. In my eyes, a person who is gay is just a person, like me. What right have I to judge their character based on the gender of the person they choose as a partner? When you think about it, it makes no sense that there is so much hate and discontent towards people simply because they are attracted to individuals of the same gender. I mean, what right do we as nation have to deny individuals the opportunity to share in the joy of marriage and adopting children and living "the American Dream" just because of one small insignificant thing like their partner's gender? And yes, it is small and insignificant, or at least it should be.
I can't judge a person based on their gender preference for partners. I won't do it. My conscience won't let me. If I did it, I couldn't live with myself. I have three criteria I use to judge a person's character when I first get to know them: how they treat me, how they treat others and how they treat animals. If all three of those criteria receive positive marks chances are I want to get to know them better. If any one of those three is negative, I don't want to get to know them better. I don't care if they are gay or straight, it doesn't even matter to me. What matters to me is their heart and what kind of person they are inside.
I'm tired of us fighting over this issue. There's already enough hate and misery in the world, isn't it time that we finally put the brakes on the continued attempts to deny a segment of the population in our society the opportunity to be happy?