It is a wonder how we even fit into our voting booths with everything we bring with us. I don't know what most of us mean when we say we made "informed decisions" at the polls because I struggle sorting through the campaign messages funded to an extent by special interest groups, Super PACs, and rich people with agendas.
Despite working through all of the messages muddled by the reworkings of various campaign management gurus and biased media outlets, there are ideas and programs we vote on that boil down to morality, and seem should need little funding to garner support.
The state of Maryland voted on marriage equality yesterday, and I am proud to say that it passed. From what I can glean from Facebook posts, media, and friends was that it was a very controversial and close vote. I haven't seen the demographics supporting the vote, but I would hedge bets that the opposition came mostly from older voters and those who are devoutly religious, and the support came from a youthful, more progressive surge of voters. Obviously not every voter fits nicely and neatly into one of these categories, but I'm going out on a limb here...
The issue of marriage equality has been hotly debated in many states for awhile now, and I understand why. Passing these laws allowing complete equality necessitates a drastic change in what has been accepted as normal and appropriate in the lives of many throughout our country's history.
Many years ago, when racial minorities were fighting to be granted the same rights as the white majority, the opposition created arguments founded in religion in order to maintain the oppression of a particular group of people. It doesn't amaze me that there is opposition to gay marriage, but that the arguments against it follow the arguments against desegregation and equal rights almost verbatim perplexes me.
Here is the video from Springfield, Missouri pastor, Phil Snider highlighting this truth. Make sure to watch the entire video:
This is a preacher who recognizes and acknowledges the fault in the current arguments against gay rights. Despite what you believe the scripture to say or how you believe your God views gay people, you cannot deny the fact that they are people and, as citizens of this country, deserve equal rights. And if you are a "believer," it should be easy to accept that it is not for you to judge others, but only for God. Treat everyone as your savior would, and embrace them for who they are without limiting them in their pursuits of love and happiness. If faith has always been enough for you in your understanding of the world, do not change now. Rest assured your God will correct and balance whatever wrongs we mortals have perpetuated in our time on Earth.
In the effort of gays to be recognized as equals under law, the open and opinionated leaders of the community have stepped forward to peacefully seek change, but it is those who remain closeted for whom I fear the most. I have known people who fit into this category and experience severe depression, anxiety, and stress because they are scared of the persecution and judgements handed down by peers, colleagues, friends, and family. Many of these people fall into a life clouded with self-hatred because they cannot change who they are, and they realize they are far from being accepted in their churches, homes, and communities.
Equality of rights is a step towards changing public opinion. Is there still racism in our country? Of course, but have the violent acts of racism and discrimination fallen from the mainstream culture? Yes, as will the negative perceptions of gay people once legislation begins to support them as equals.
Many people of minority races gave their lives for the rights gay people are seeking. The violent images of the reactions to various civil rights protests still stain our nations history. It does not have to be this way. Let's pave the way for acceptance, and let's build on it a nation where our first move as citizens is toward improving the quality of life for each other rather than preserving exclusivity for those of us born into the most beneficial demographic.