I had to do some convincing to get Rob to agree to host last night. The reasons why are probably obvious. They would, in fact, have been my reasons three months ago. I would have expected argument; I would have met them with images of the evangelicals protesting gay pride and LDS conference in mind. I’d certainly not trust such people around our children, or want them to know where we live. I mean, what if? Right?
Three meetings later, after hearing them out and breaking bread together (which, last night, were Rob’s terrific cookies), my old anticipation about these individuals is a source of embarrassment. They are good, friendly people, each the sort of person I’m glad and comfortable to have seated on our family room couch, and that’s saying something.
Reaching beyond the stereotypes and the vocal loons in both our camps was, in part, the theme of last night. Personally, I hope in posting on this, my experience may be some measure of evidence to those in the gay community who harbor similar fears, who may feel a chill when they hear the words “Evangelical Christian”. Those fears are every bit as unfair and unfounded, even if not nearly as legally deleterious to them, as the fears we face.
I suppose I’m not saying my guard is dropped, though. As I explained last night, I’ve no problem having a friend who think homosexuality is a sin, but once it crosses the line into practical, legal harm to my family, the sort they’d not want for their family, then there is only so close a relationship can get before my duties as a husband and father will force a certain distance. There are still vagaries to be dealt with in later meetings, and those who spoke were admittedly unclear on the politics. That was yet another repeating theme: the gays seemed concerned for the practical policy issues their families face, while it seemed the other side was focused on the religious issues.
It may seem we’ve already covered this ground, but it is complicated ground. We spent most the night trying to figure out how best to reach across the divide, to figure out what each community had to do for the other. I am hoping to speak up for the evangelicals, here and in the gay community in general, if I ever hear their names indiscriminately hissed out. One thing I was left impressed with was that they decided, without the gay group putting it out there, that the burden was primarily on their shoulder to reach out because of the political history. I was struck with the amount of willingness to step into our shoes that must have taken and hope they know, while I expect we should all make the effort, the realization of the asymmetry here is very much appreciated, refreshing.
One last thing… I can’t believe this is even a significant news story, but I guess I just don’t have the normal quantity of care for beauty pageants. The topic of the Miss California competition and Carrie Prejean came up last night (you can read on it here). For days now I’ve been thinking people were mispronouncing Paris Hilton’s name, but now I gather this Perez Hilton is a dude, one who seems to represent the gay community to a good number of minds. Anyway, we all agreed: asking the question was a poor choice; his blog response to her answer was simply stupid, and rude (OMG, a blog fight is serious news on gay marriage! :-)). This would be funny for it's silliness, but it seems some groups are still trying to make hay of this and use it to fight against equal marriage rights.
Look, I’ve no issue with her thinking or saying for her family or God marriage is between a man and a woman. Again, I get upset when a person advocates practical harm to their neighbor’s family, but I'd rather a person say it than keep it hidden. Nevertheless, her answer was factually incorrect and revealed a clear lack of knowledge on the topic. The first time I heard it I thought it was a parody and I have a hard time understanding how anyone doesn’t think it should have cost points. I mean, if not understanding of the issues, what are they graded on?
But again, it’s a beauty pageant! Sheesh. People are really fuming about this? The same people who are upset that a single person got second place instead of first in a pageant seem to be absolutely blind to the thousand’s of dollars extra thousands of families pay without marriage law. They seem blind to the legal safety nets they keep from under thousands of couples, parents, and children. They don’t freak out like this when a gay man can’t get claim to his deceased husband’s estate or when the parent of a child isn’t made legally responsible for that child because of their sex, and yet they’re upset about one girl not being Miss America? What odd priorities are those?
Thank goodness the vocal Christians on this one are not the sort of evangelicals I know. Also thank goodness they aren’t the sort to judge the gay community, or the fight for marriage rights, or my family on Perez Hilton.
There are so many pressures and easy excuses like this silly example pushing us all apart, it almost seems like a little miracle nights like last night happen at all.