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November 25th, 2009:

heartfelt conversations?

I received an email today from a civil rights organization suggesting we not shy away from ‘heartfelt conversations’ with relatives/friends/co-workers who oppose gay marriage. It was suggested that we do all we can to educate those who have not yet accepted us, their gay friend, son, brother, co-worker, sister as equals insomuch as they would vote to ‘allow’ us to marry the person of our choice. One by one is the suggestion – the ol’ ‘get them to know us and love us and then maybe then they’ll acquiesce to awarding us our civil rights’ . I sent this in reply:
Too often in these heartfelt conversations we shy away from discussing what is, quite often, at the root of opposition to marriage equality – and that’s a feeling of inadequacy by the oppressor creating a need for her/him to oppress another in order to feel ‘special’. As children – we’re encouraged to search for the way that we can be ‘special’ in this world. We’re encouraged to excel – not by our own standards but by those set by others. So we become ever-increasingly interested in the validation of others.-over our own. We are actually taught to distrust our own – especially if it’s positive. We are told – ‘who do you think you are?’ and ‘Don’t get too big for your britches!’ There’s a price for this – It’s impossible not to feel accomplishment, not to ‘enjoy’ ourselves for who we are – so we begin to feel badly about ourselves FOR feeling good about ourselves. But we have accepted that we are not to be referenced from within but from without. So we have a constant need to rebuild that which we have allowed to be torn down. How do we do this? By finding fault with others, passing judgement, and, whenever possible, denying others as we have come to deny ourselves.
How have we learned, as a society, to treat those who we judge as failing to measure up? punish them. deny them. deprive them of our love – mirroring what was done to us when we failed to live up to expectation – we do this to ourselves…¬† Some church leaders tell us (and for the above reasons – we are eager to believe)¬†that the devil is out there – we have only to identify him – find his human face… someone of a another race, someone with a differing spiritual belief system, someone with a sexual identity that differs from our own…
So, somewhere deep down in your mother-in-law, in your grandfather, in your co-worker, your neighbor, in your brother or sister or in anyone telling you that they oppose gay marriage …. is a feeling of inadequacy that is only lifted when another’s inadequacy is identified and punished. Your feeling good about your sexuality and your choice of a partner is no match for another’s need to deprive you in order to feel better about him or herself. As long as the majority is allowed to create laws which make it legal for others to build themselves up on the backs of others, we will have inequality.
What this means is this – we need to see past the individual battles and fight the big one. Make it illegal for a majority to vote on the civil rights of a minority. Remove from the law of the land this avenue for those who feel the need to rebuild their sense of self ….
In your heartfelt conversations – delve beneath the desire to deny gay citizens the right to marry. Talk about (expose) their feelings of inadequacy. Talk about the desire/habit to build oneself up by denying another. Talk about our habit of withholding love (in this case in the form of a civil right) in an attempt to coerce another to do our will and/or to be mirrors of ourselves. It’s easy to say, ‘Grandma, you’re just prejudiced against gays’. Harder is ‘Grandma, you feel inadequate so you’re punishing me. Stop it old lady!’
That, my friends in courage, is the heartfelt conversation that’s missing….