I call each of you family for that is precisely who we are as the united human race, dependent upon each other in this journey of life. We are children of the Divine, called to love one another wastefully and see in each other the beautiful, mystical, and perfected image of God.
We now find ourselves in a time of unprecedented opportunity to honor our fellow brothers and sisters in this country and we each must step up to the task. It is our divine mandate to pave the way for all human beings to be treated with the same dignity, respect, opportunities, and benefits regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The time, the day, the very hour has arrived for national marriage equality to no longer be the hope but the reality!
Perhaps you already support marriage equality, you are on the fence still contemplating, or you are completely against equal rights. Regardless, I welcome you to read. I dare you to step outside of yourself for a moment and look at the LGBT community with eyes of love and a heart of compassion. Marriage equality is very near and dear to my heart and life for several reasons:
1. I am a man who was born with the heavenly blessing of being gay. I am proud to have spoken the powerful words: "I do," in the context of an Illinois Civil Union in May of this year to my life partner. This coming summer we will make those vows again before family and friends and receive the blessing of the Church. However, without marriage equality in all 50 states we are simply viewed as friends living together with a barely-recognized partnership agreement drawn up in Indiana. In one state we are married, another we are in a 'partnership', another we are nothing. We are legally required to file separate taxes and do not receive the benefits for having a child that other families do. In a moment of tragic comedy after coming back to Indiana from the Illinois ceremony I turned to my newly legal spouse and said, "Well, it was a wonderful 48 hours while it lasted." This is inhumane treatment, bigotry, and hatred at its core. Without national marriage equality there are countless relationships across the US constantly in flux. Each being treated differently simply based upon the state the couple happens to be residing in or passing through at any given moment.
2. My very own Uncle Phil was one of the first gay men in the U.S. to fight for marriage equality on a state and national level. Even when many in the gay community declined to support him, as they wanted to remain hidden, and not ruffle feathers or risk upheaval, Uncle Phil carried on! Nothing stopped him from seeing a future where each American was free to dedicate themself, as their heart desired, to the person they loved and sacrificed for. I am an eternally grateful nephew to my uncle for standing up and beginning a fight in New York for marriage equality that ultimately reached fruition in the summer of 2011. Next summer my uncle will watch my partner and I seal our eternal love with a kiss and legally declare one another husband. He fought to make it possible while I was still a young child! When no one else would, he stood up and demanded equality -- before it was in vogue, before you could do so without fear of extreme retribution and a large community of support. That is the essence of being an American!
3. Regardless of religious or personal views, marriage equality is plain and simple American -- it's freedom and choice, something this nation prides itself on and has since it's beginning. No religious or political group should be able to dictate the terms of who can marry and who cannot. Do I even have to mention the side effects of no equality: higher taxes for gay families with children, less government support for gay families in need, and little to no rights for gay partners in states without some form of legal unions. These are all heartbreaking issues that are inhumane and frankly from a religious perspective: the very concept of evil. All humans must be free to marry or not, as they choose a fellow human. May we no longer continue to use the same hate filled rhetoric, speeches, and holy writings that have been used to promote slavery, war, racism, and the annihilation of certain groups and races who were 'different' then what was considered to be the standard.
4. Perhaps the best, most simple answer comes from the fabulous Dolly Parton and who can argue with it: "Gay people should have the right to be as miserable as married straight people are." I dare anyone to fight Ms. Parton.
So family, take a moment and consider the necessity of marriage equality but don't stop there. Become vocal, sound a battle cry of freedom, and be divine light in a world of hatred, darkness, and ignorance. In the summer of 2011, at Indy Pride, I had the privilege of meeting several elderly gay couples that had been together for 50-70 years. I was moved to tears hearing their stories of fighting for survival over the decades. Who would dare to look at two human beings who share such a bond for each other that they would endure the hatred of their own families and the world around them for 50+ years and then dare to inform them that love can not be found in your relationship, its unnatural and based only on lust. That is nothing but self-delusion and a refusal to acknowledge truth displayed before you.
I find grace in my relationship; I find a call to grow, to sacrifice, to love unconditionally, to give to the point where it hurts. I find peace, struggle -- as all do -- and splendid joy. And yet, contrary to some religious opinions I am still well aware of when I fail and make mistakes. I know when I am less than I should be toward those around me. I do not find myself given over to a 'reprobate mind' but rather I find myself consistently growing in love for my partner, our son, all mankind, and myself. I feel a Divine call to walking in holiness by not judging others but loving all unreservedly. It is my desire to make known through my life and actions the words of St. John the Theologian: God is love! Love surrounds us unless you choose to have eyes that will not see it.
Thank you for standing with your LGBT brothers and sisters who are no different than you. May we dream of and then create a world where there is no prejudice of different races, sexual orientations, genders, and families. You can be a part of that future -- you can pave the way for our grandchildren to never know the hatred and ignorance we have born witness too other than through the pages of history books. The hour is now dear family!
With much love, your brother on the journey of life,
Follow Rev. Daniel C. Kostakis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rev_kostakis