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Marriage Equality Bittersweet

Marriage Equality A bittersweet victory

After news broke that the US Supreme Court upheld marriage equality making gay marriage legal in all 50 states I posted a tweet expressing how happy I was about the court’s decision. From this short tweet I ended up having a very interesting exchange with someone who comments a lot on my blog.  We disagree on almost every political issue imaginable but I love to hear his point of view.  He said he was unhappy about the Supreme Court’s decision to make marriage equality a nationwide thing.  Then I asked him a very simple question that he had no answer to.  I asked him how this decision to legalize gay marriage would change his life or change the way he practices his religion.  He couldn’t answer because the truth is it will have no effect whatsoever on his life or how he chooses to live it.

If you are one of those people who are disappointed or sadden about someone gaining rights that you already enjoy, please ask yourself how this changes anything about your life or wellbeing as a citizen of a free country.  If you are one of those people who oppose this for religious reasons, please ask yourself how this will change your Sunday morning church service, or the way you read your bible, or the way you pray to God.  If you’re truly being honest with yourself, you’ll see how insignificant this is in your life.  But for gay people like me, this gives us a chance to better our lives.  It says to us that we deserve to be treated like equals.  We pay the same taxes, we abide by the same laws, we work in and contribute to the same economy, so what gives you the right to tell me how to live my life?  What gives you the right to exclude me from the same opportunities you have?  No one is forcing you to agree with gay marriage, no one is saying your religious beliefs are wrong or not valid.  No one is forcing you to like lgbt people.  But in a free democracy you can’t force me to live my life by your religious beliefs or by your interpretation of your religious text.

Marriage Equality Upheld

Marriage Equality Upheld

Believing homosexuality is a sin is totally valid, and even though I disagree it’s not my place to tell you you’re wrong or to try and force you to believe what I believe.  If that’s your religious belief, in my eyes I don’t consider that homophobic.  But to actively seek out ways to make people like me live as second class citizens and to support laws that gives you more rights just because you’re heterosexual, that is homophobic and it spits in the face of a true democracy and weakens us as a country.  History has taught that lesson to us over and over again with slavery and Jim Crow.  Slave owners and those who supported the right to own slaves used scriptures from the Bible to justify the practice of owning African slaves:

you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you.  You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land.  You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. Leviticus 25:44-46

Laws were created to uphold a system that treated human beings as cattle primarily for financial gain but the aide of Biblical scripture allowed it to last 200+ years while supporters struck down every moral challenge to this barbaric system with (what they thought was) written approval from god. I’m using this example not to bash Christianity or anyone’s beliefs, but to show how problematic it can be when government makes legislative decisions based on a personal religious belief.

Clementa Pickney's casket in Charleston SC

Clementa Pickney’s casket in Charleston SC

At the end of our conversation he asked me how I felt about the news. I told him it was kind of bittersweet for me. I was elated to hear how the Supreme Court’s decision upheld Marriage equality which makes gay marriage legal in all 50 states, but my heart is still heavy knowing that the funeral of Rev Clementa Pickney (the pastor who was murdered last week by a white supremacist) is happening later today as well. As an out gay African American man my double minority identity presents dueling dichotomies all the time. Carrying this burden today means not fully participating in the joy and celebration that my white lgbt brothers and sisters are experiencing. But Clementa Pickney as a South Carolina senator believed in marriage equality. He along with the other members of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus were always on the side the lgbt community. That fact alone makes the sweet a lot less bitter, but it also reminds me that the fight for true equality isn’t over. It reminds me that we have to vigilantly protect each win because the same people who lost today aren’t going to change their ways and give up on their fascist crusade tomorrow. As soon as we think we’ve won and let our guard down, it gives the losers an opening to stop the momentum of our progress and a chance to destroy the good that we’ve built. Rev Clementa Pickney and the 8 other African Americans who died at the hand of a white supremacist serves as a stark reminder of that fact.

RIP Senator Reverend Clementa Pickney.

Rev Clementa Pickney

Rev Clementa Pickney

I Support You

Legal gay marriage in all 50 states has been the law of the land for 96 hours now and the sky isn’t falling, straight married couples aren’t getting divorced due to the change, the black plague didn’t reemerge, we didn’t have to sacrifice a virgin to stop volcano’s from erupting, no one turned into a pillar of salt, there was no rioting, no looting, no anarchy, no national guard, no EMS alert on tv, nope, none of that happened at all. Barack Obama is still the president, Fox News is still racist, wall street continues to screw everyone out of their retirements, the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west, and Socially Urban Blog is still the most amazing source for progressive commentary :-).  Yep, all of that is still as it was before. People woke up and went to work, or to school, or did nothing just like every day prior to gay marriage being legal. Other than the whining from republicans and a few silly angry posts predicting the end of the world from a few misguided (but well-meaning) panic-prone people on social media, life went on as usual and this Monday seemed no different from the Monday of last week. But for gay people like me I can’t tell you how amazing it feels to know that my government, who I pay taxes to, will no longer tell me I deserve less rights just because I’m gay. I wish I could describe that feeling but words will not do it justice.

Tonya R Isom

Tonya R Isom

Finally getting full marriage equality was inconceivably extraordinary and life changing for me, but of course there was an immediate and somewhat predictable backlash brewing as well.  Some of the anti-gay homophobic posts on so many people’s timelines that I have on my friends list kinda threw me for a loop. Usually I try not to take too much of it personal but sometimes it’s hard to just brush it off. Right in the middle of all the negativity I got a message from a friend that almost brought me to tears. It was so simple and unexpected. Tonya R. Isom sent me a 3 word message along with a picture of the White House lit in rainbow gay pride colors. Those 3 words were I support you.  It was simple, elegant, heartfelt and timed perfectly to snap me out of the creeping darkness I began to feel while reading all of the negativity. I don’t know how she knew I needed that, but I’m so thankful that something touched her heart and lead her to throw me a lifeline right when I needed it most.

After getting her message I decided to take a little social media sabbatical Saturday and Sunday. I had to remind myself that I’m not here to make people happy or to convince people that they should accept me. I’m in charge of my happiness and it’s going to take a whole lot more than a few facebook posts to get me down, or to take away the joy I felt after hearing the court’s decision. I’m not deleting anyone, I’m through trying to convince people that I deserve the same rights they have, and I’m through showing respect to those who show me disrespect. Like our facebook page the end of the day, gay marriage is legal, it’s a done deal, settled once and for all by the highest court in our judicial system. Those who oppose it or those who think it’s wrong, their opinions became completely irrelevant on Friday June 26 2015 at approximately 10 am eastern standard time.  But fret not; it’s never too late to educate and evolve.  Just know that love and justice will always be triumphant over negativity and fear. ‪#‎MarriageEquality‬ ‪#‎DamnTheHaters‬

To those who may have posted angry homophobic comments, I have nothing but love in my heart for you and I wish you no ill will or harm. To those misguided souls who posted inflammatory meme’s and pics designed to invoke fear or stroke public outrage, I harbor no hate in my heart and will not make negative judgments about your character. However I will lend some advice. Before reposting a meme from someone else’s page, please do a little research to find out if it’s true or not. In my experience, the more inflammatory the information is, the more likely the information is a fraud. One really good resource to search for a reposts or meme’s authenticity is They recently debunked a set of photos depicting Jesus kissing a man at what looked like a gay pride parade. All of those photos were taken 3+ years ago all at different times, and all outside of the United States. 2 were from Brazil as a part of a performance art project. None of them were in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage here in the US a few days ago. Whoever created the set of photos wanted to outrage Christians and make them hate gays even more. I’m sure he’s very happy at the response because it accomplished exactly what he intended it to. But I refuse to let dirty tactics like this divide us. I hope we can all take this as a learning experience and avoid divisive tricks like this in the future.

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