Marriage Equality

I believe that every citizen – regardless of race, ethnicity, social and economic status, religion, non-religion, gender, or sexual orientation – should have the exact same rights as every other citizen – including the right for consenting adults to marry whom they love.

This month my husband and I will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. Every year about this time I find myself thinking back to that happy day and the days leading up to it.

You know those shows you see on television where the bride spends HUGE amounts of time, thought, and bucks choosing the just right ring, dress, caterer, flowers, music, photographer, and reception venue for her “big day” – those shows where every minute detail of the wedding production is analyzed, critiqued, and judged for its merits on visual perfection? Where the ceremony is somber and refined and the highlight of the whole shebang is the dress the bride wears?

Yeah. That wasn’t us.

My engagement ring was a little garnet ring I picked out from a small jewelry shop in Pike Place Market in Seattle, and the man who sold it to us was cheerfully, flamboyantly, hilariously gay – he had us cracking up the minute we walked into his shop. My wedding dress was the first dress I tried on from the sales rack at our local Bon Marche. Cost me $120. Our minister was a hoot – we’d met with him for a required counseling session, and when he told us that anything he had to say to us would be pretty much useless at this point – because it’s really only AFTER the wedding that the bride and groom realize what they’ve gotten themselves into (we later learned that he’d just recently been divorced), we immediately recognized the man had a sense of humor, and he was, for sure, the minister we wanted officiating our nuptials.

The wedding was a joyful, light-hearted affair in a small Methodist church in Gig Harbor – I remember the minister asking us if we really wanted to hold the service in his church – it was very small – could maybe hold 100 people – and very old (it’s since been torn down and a larger church built in a different location) – but, for our purposes, that little church was perfect – I liked the cozy smallness of it and the stained glass windows – and from the church’s steps we could look out across the water and see Mount Rainier rising above the hills in the distance. The wedding itself was simple, joyful, and natural. We weren’t too concerned with “perfection” – we just wanted our guests to feel comfortable and loved. The reception was held in my parents’ backyard – with the sound of laughter, and the smell of daffodils and plum blossoms, filling the air. And we played volleyball in the pasture – the groom’s team won, but it was a close game.

The minister came to the reception, and fit right in with our hooligan families and friends. Before he left he told us that sometimes he’s really worried about the future of the newlyweds he marries – they often seem more concerned about the wedding than the actual marriage – but, after watching us yukking it up with our families and friends, he felt good about being a part of our ceremony. He knew we were going to be alright. We knew how to laugh.

When I think about that day, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to deny other people the right to a wedding, and to a life-long commitment in marriage with the partner they love. I can’t understand why any heterosexual couple would feel their own marriage is threatened by giving homosexuals the same rights that they have. I feel a real yearning for other folks who love one another, and are brave enough to make a commitment to each other, to be allowed to have what my husband and I were allowed to have.

***

“Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.” –
from the chapter titled ‘Marriage’ in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

wedding photo

Karen and Scott Terrell, 3-31-1984. Photo by Bob Harbison.

“…unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”

Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Years ago, when I was a teenager maybe, I remember seeing a Star Trek episode that showed a man who was half-black and half-white in a struggle with another man who was half-black and half-white – they were enemies because of their color – and I remember looking at them, thinking, “But… they’re BOTH half-black and half-white… what’s the issue here?” And at the end of the episode we finally see that the reason they’re enemies is because one of them is white on the right side of his body, and the other is white on the left side of his body, and… yeah… I remember thinking how absolutely ridiculous it all was for them to hate each other just because…

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This Scary Stuff Isn’t New

“Progress is the law of God…”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Come on, Karen. You majored in History. You know the struggles our world has endured, survived, overcome. You know the scary stuff we’re seeing now isn’t new. I mean… it’s not like all the political corruption and corporate greed and dishonesty you’re seeing in America is something that’s springing up for the first time here. Look back at just the last 100 years in the United States – :

  • in 1918, when your 98 year-old father was born, women still didn’t have the right to vote in this country
  • when your father and mother were living through the Great Depression, members of the nation’s Supreme Court continually over-turned laws and programs designed to provide relief to the poor, to help the nation recover, and to bring reform to the economy
  • in 1942 Japanese-Americans had their homes and property taken from them and were sent to live in “internment camps”
  • in the early part of the 1950s – just before you were born –  government workers, and people involved in the Hollywood movie business, lost their jobs without recourse for being Communists – or just being accused of being Communists – by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and company
  • up until 1954 – just two years before you were born – racially segregated schools were still legal in this country
  •  in 1961, when you were a pre-schooler, there were still African-Americans who were living as slaves – who’d never been told slavery had ended in this country
  • when you were seven years-old the President of the United States was assassinated
  • when you were 11 years-old, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and, two months later, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated
  • when you were an eighth grader, four students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University were shot and killed by members of the National Guard
  • when you were in high school the President of the United States resigned before he could be impeached for trying to cover-up a break-in of his political opponent’s campaign headquarters

But recognize that for every step backwards – for every reaction against progress – we’ve seen humongo strides forwards. Look at the progress in the last 100 years:

  • in 1920 women were given the right to vote
  • in the 1930’s – in spite of the Supreme Court’s resistance to social reform – social security and other programs were established to ensure a safety net for our nation’s citizens
  • in 1954 the Supreme Court ended racial segregation in public schools
  • in 1963 the Equal Pay Act was passed – making it illegal to pay a woman less for doing the same work as a man
  • in 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed, prohibiting discrimination in  employment, and in 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed, making discriminatory voting practices illegal
  • in 1967 the Supreme Court ruled that laws forbidding inter-racial marriage were illegal
  • in 2015 same-sex marriage was recognized as a right protected by the Constitution

Karen, you now live in a country full of people who’ve never known legal segregation between the races. You live in a country full of young people who take it for granted that women can participate in politics – can vote, run for office, and serve on the Supreme Court. Americans are not going to allow this country to slide backwards. The gains we’ve made won’t be lost. Have trust in your fellow man and woman.

Buck up. There may be battles ahead – every generation has them – but progress always wins in the end.

“In Christian Science there is never a retrograde step, never a return to positions outgrown.”
– Mary Baker Eddy