I've had to do some soul searching recently regarding marriage equality, not because of where I stand on the issue (I firmly believe that every American should have the right to marry the person they choose) but because of where some of my friends stand.
This week I had the awesome privilege of witnessing history: hundreds of gay men and women and their straight allies rallying on the steps of the Supreme Court, while inside the justices listened to arguments on the legality of California's Proposition 8 and the federal law known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Like many others, I changed my Facebook profile photo in solidarity. I tweeted news articles and my personal thoughts on the issue. Then, on Thursday morning, I received a message from a college friend of mine. She wrote, "I hope you know, that even though we have different perspectives on this issue, I still love you." I was excited to hear from her but saddened and angered by her response.
My friend and I graduated from Asbury College, a small, Christian liberal arts school about 15 miles from Lexington, Ky. We both graduated with the same degree in media communications. We're both journalists. And although we're both Christians, we apparently differ in our beliefs about homosexuality and gay rights. But how could someone I care about not support my right to choose whom I marry? And how should I respond?
My initial idea was to make the case that she is standing on the wrong side of history, and to explain that people are born gay, that it's not a choice, that my right to marry would not change her right to marry, that the constitution upholds the fundamental principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans. But that response didn't feel right.
Then I thought I might tell her about the straight allies I met on the steps of the Supreme Court: the new mother, her 18-week-old boy in her arms, who told me that she and her husband wanted to make sure that their son grew up in a country that believes in equal rights for all, or the straight woman from Jackson, Miss., who was there with her straight daughter, standing up for the rights of their friends and neighbors.
My next idea -- and I'll admit it was a bit more drastic -- was to delete her from my Facebook friends list. I didn't do that.
Instead, I've been mulling it over. What should I say? What should I not say? I know that I cannot remain silent. Then it hit me: grace. It's something that our political leaders often lack, and it's something that I failed to pick up on in my friend's message. In politics we've thrown out grace in political discourse, choosing instead to shout louder than our opponents in an effort to win. We certainly see this problem on both sides of the fight for marriage equality. For my fellow fighters for equality, I offer this up instead: Choose grace. This week we saw that the political winds are changing in the right direction. So offer grace to those friends with differing views, and have faith that they too will feel the breeze and not be afraid.
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