I had an opportunity to hear Harry Knox speak 2 years ago at the Celebration of Faith and Diversity seminars held in Tampa, Florida. Mr. Knox is the Director of Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign and a terrific orator. He blends together religion, faith, diversity and humanity to show how the basic rights for all gay & lesbian people should be honored and demanded and brings a religious perspective that is often overlooked. It is great listening to him speak which is why I was glad I found this article he wrote on the recent vote by Maine citizens to deny the LGBT community marriage rights and marriage equality. This article is reprinted from Human Rights Campaign BackStory series on its website: www.hrcbackstory.org/2009/11/a-religious-reflection-on-maine. To learn more about HRC and what they do for the LGBT community, visit their website at: www.hrc.org.
“This morning I am wondering who and what I am. Once again, when American voters have had an opportunity to affirm my humanity and the loving commitment I have made to my husband, a majority of those voters have made a conscious decision to deny my humanity and treat me as if my citizenship and my marriage mean nothing; all the while patting themselves on the back for their piety. The slap they intended is received. I am made to wonder – Am I human? Am I an American? Am I a Christian? Am I married?
It is clear that most voters in Maine, like majorities in other states before them, intend for me to feel less than human. People we respect as sisters and brothers in the human family, we treat as equals. Those majorities have reserved to themselves a legal right they feel specially entitled to – in spite of the fact that my husband and I face all the health, financial, familial and social challenges they do, and need the same supports they enjoy.
Here’s what I know.
I know that I was never more beautifully and powerfully human in my life than the day I committed myself to lifelong partnership with my caring, strong, handsome, wise, funny husband. We made ourselves vulnerable to care for each other forever, come what may. There is no more hopeful, faithful, joyful, generative act in all the world. It was a decision only humans could enter into both intellectually and spiritually. It was a total giving of ourselves to each other, and as such, it mirrored in part the gift Christ made for us on the Cross.
Voters in Maine have said with clarity that my husband and I are to be denied equal treatment under the law, despite the Constitutional promises made to us. The voters are unequivocal – we are something, but we are not, in their opinions, American citizens, despite the facts that we are native born or have diligently served our country over the last five decades.
What I know is that Mike and I seek everyday to contribute more to our country and God’s world than we take from it. We have given our lives and careers in the service of others through Christ, and we have invested most of our time and much of our money into helping America live into its promises and potential.
Most Maine voters want us to understand once and for all that the Bible, which has been used to subjugate women, people of color, and the poor of every gender and race is now to be used as a weapon against us. They have gleaned all they intend to learn from their faith and as far as they are concerned, my family can go to hell.
I know that we are disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, God’s incarnate word of truth, love, and justice who lived, died, and through his death and resurrection redeemed and continues to reconcile us, America and all the earth to God’s original vision of peace and caring community.
It is clear to me now that a majority of Americans have chosen to deny my human rights, deny my citizenship, and deny my Christianity, by denying my freedom to marry. So where does that leave me? Who and what am I on November 4, 2009?
I know – I know – that I am married to my husband, Mike. He defends me against all who would do me harm and is faithful to me in spite of all temptations. We have cared for each other through more sickness than health; we’ve known more financial setbacks than gains; we have nursed each others’ family members, wept over the graves of lost loved ones, helped and received help from family and friends, and assisted in raising the children of some heterosexual folks who weren’t able to raise their own. I wake in the morning and nod at night with prayers of thanksgiving for the wonderful man with whom I am building a family by God’s grace.
Today I am tempted to feel like an exile in my native land – to question who and what I am. But this I know: in the end it matters not one whit what others say or believe about me and mine. What matters, today and forever, is what we believe about ourselves. We are fully human. We are Americans. We are Christians. And we are most assuredly married.
When I remember that, the powers of hell cannot prevail against me or my marriage. I am empowered to continue to do the difficult work that will ultimately bring justice in the form of marriage equality to our land. I, and my husband with me, offer our heterosexual neighbors a vision of what the world will look like when we get the human rights we deserve – a world where everyone will live in peace and mutual respect with our neighbors.”
– Harry Knox, Director of Religion & Faith, Human Rights Campaign