Clamoring for Marriage
Can gays save the institution of marriage? It’s not doing so well these days. In an ironic twist to the history of marriage in America, it seems that the only people clamoring for wedded bliss in contemporary society are gay. From June 16 to November 5 2008, gays made history by donning tuxedos, wedding dresses, packing up the kids, and like people thirsting in the desert who are suddenly given water, joyfully, gratefully, hungrily entering into binding legal contracts with those they love. This was an epic journey.
One hundred and forty three days of legal marriage in California. A blip in time but oh, what a blip it was. For anyone fortunate enough to be a part of these ceremonies and celebrations, gratitude and wonder were shimmering in the air. These were the days of miracles, days when love conquered fear, days many thought they would never live to see. People are expected to cry at weddings, but imagine the emotion of a gay wedding with families who have waited for more than forty years.
Yesterday in the Trader Joe’s parking lot, a young, friendly twenty-something female greeted me. She approached with confidence, hope in her heart and a clipboard in her hand. She absolutely believed without a doubt that gay marriage would pass in California in 2012. She and a male colleague represented EQ CA, a human rights organization devoted to advancing the cause of full equality for lesbians and gays in California. They were heading for Lodi, Bakersfield, and Fresno. Armed with statistics from the latest polls, they announced that 51% of voting age adults in California now support gay marriage.
As we think about what this shift means both culturally and spiritually, we can see it as evidence of love’s expansion in the world. Gays and lesbians have certainly known love but the idea that families and the people of traditional religions are embracing them in full honor and equality is such an important leap. Throughout history people of faith and otherwise good intentions have most often excluded ‘the other’. This shunning, marginalization, and denial of human rights frequently shows up in marriage laws as the limiting of love. (It was only recently, within the last 50 years, that interracial marriages have been allowed in many states.)
As a spiritual principle, love can never be limited. Whenever groups of people begin to realize that ‘ah, yes, these people matter too,’ then human dignity becomes expanded. More people are recognized as worthy, honorable human beings. Less conflict exists, less judgment. These are the ways of love. This is why gay marriage matters so much.
As the 143 days expand, as love becomes limitless, we as a culture become more tolerant, more loving. We become richer human beings, able to embrace diversity and able to recognize the inherent worth and value in all people.