I understand ‘marriage’ commonly paints a photo of a ceremony in church officiated by a pastor or priest and is followed by merrymaking centered on the oneness of man and woman. This concept has been inculcated in me since I was a child and any deviation is seen as abnormal or weird. I realized, however, that while religious beliefs are relative, the right to be married applies to everyone. Even the Merriam-Webster dictionary doesn’t limit the definition of ‘marriage’ to a religious union between straight man and woman. People seem to overlook the reality the LGBT community isn’t insisting on saying their “I do’s” in a Mass or in front of any religious symbol such as the crucifix.
If your religion believes a marriage should be done only between man and woman, then so be it. Nobody is forcing you to be married or to attend your gay friends’ and acquaintances’ weddings. (That is, if you’ll receive an invite.) Islam, for instance, considers eating pork a sin yet Muslim people do not go around telling people of different faith to practice such. Meanwhile, gay people are as eligible as straight ones to be formally recognized as a couple before the law because oh, I don’t know, they’re human? “Why can’t they remain as live-in partners?” Imagine the legal complications your parents and yourself would have dealt with if their marriage isn’t considered legal. Separation of church and state, they say. In case you missed it, Christianity isn’t the only religion in the world.
There’s nothing wrong with firmly sticking to your beliefs but shoving it down non believers’ throats, looking down on and depriving other people of a human right because they don’t share your perspective is a perfect example of self-righteousness.
If I may add, the last wedding I attended between a heterosexual couple was a civil one and it isn’t less meaningful than a Church wedding. In the first place, not all marriages are religious in nature yet all of these—given the willingness of two consenting adults—must be supported as it strongly manifests love and commitment. As Justice Kennedy succinctly explains marriage:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage.
Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.
People seem to forget having a different sexual orientation does not make a person less capable of committing to long-term relationships and raising a family.
The thinking of marriage’s main purpose being procreation may be misguided, considering there are wedded couples whose physical and medical limitations hinder them from conceiving. Their inability to procreate, however, does invalidate their marriage. Also, natural conception isn’t the only way to form a family. Adoption is another option, which a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul beautifully describes as a child growing in his mother’s (or father’s) heart instead of her womb.
People citing Bible verses as grounds to oppose same-sex relationships also leads me to reflect on the irony of religion—how it is intended to unite people but can become a cause of divide instead. While a specific verse explicitly goes against homosexual relationships, scripture is not only subject to interpretation but is also written at an age human rights weren’t established. Remember slavery and racial segregation were considered normal. Why favor traditional beliefs over the recognition of universal rights? As UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay puts it, “They say that same-sex relationships and transgender identities go against their culture, religious beliefs or traditional values. My answer is that human rights are universal.”
I acknowledge people who grew up in traditional settings and subscribe strictly to a religious group may find this progress more difficult to accept. You may disagree with the idea for religious and “conservative” reasons—we can all agree to disagree—but the perpetuation of discrimination and call for damnation, which best exemplify bigotry, are another story. Why deprive other people of this union when you yourself aren’t directly affected by their enjoyment of rights? What would you feel if your friend, brother, sister, or cousin is being condemned for genuinely loving a person who happens to have the same-sex as him or her? The way I see it, the motivation for treating people humanely is not the promise of an afterlife but for the very fact they are humans like me.
Although the Philippines is touted as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world, the discrimination experienced by homosexuals remains a bitter reality. For one, some gay people are abandoned by their own family or are treated differently in the workplace upon their coming out. On Jennifer Laude’s case, I remember people commenting her murder is justifiable for her type of work, sexual orientation, or both. Her case is a strong evidence discrimination based on gender identity is rampant, along with victim-blaming.
It also doesn’t help that local media usually portray them as cross-dressing beauticians who serve as a comic relief—as if overlooking the reality gay people can be and are productive members of the society in ways other than styling people. Among others, they are artists, writers, doctors, and lawmakers.
Now that I think of it, the primary reason I feel strongly about issues that concern the LGBT community and I fully support them is: some of the people I trust and admire most are members of which. I cannot imagine declaring I love my friends then stating a condition, “I’m fine with gay people as long as they aren’t involved in any romantic relationships,” as if the right to marry is exclusive to heterosexual couples. I am disgusted at how people usually see gay ones in a perverted light.
In hindsight, though. I think the perception of people who staunchly oppose LGBT community having the same rights as straight people stems from lack of awareness and understanding instead of hate. I would like to believe so.
I believe in different strokes for different folks—well, except if you’re inclined to terrorism- and corruption-related activities which pose as threat to mankind. A Time article expresses it best:
Those who are happy with the decision should take a moment and celebrate. Those who are angry about it should take a moment and question their convictions to decide how best to proceed in a way that respects the law. But then we should move on. It’s about time.
In this case, generosity in terms of love and recognition of human rights to the LGBT community do not put mankind in danger.
Behind masks and labels, we are all humans who love and deserve to be loved. I look forward to the day ‘gay’ won’t be used as a derogatory term. I look forward to the time people won’t say a person’s looks and potentials have gone to waste (e.g. “Sayang, maganda/gwapo pa naman.”) because he or she is gay. I look forward to attending my friends’ marriages, celebrating a different shade of love, and proving #LoveWins every time. It has and it should.
All the best from a straight ally. ❤
While writing this post, partly triggered by the unbelievable display of ignorance and bigotry on social media, I was thinking of several close friends; life without them would be unimaginable.