This I Believe

David - San Francisco, California
Entered on March 19, 2007

So, the Vatican renews opposition to gay marriage just after the Anglicans in Africa came down heavily on the Episcopals for their support of it. Sadly, I might think that, considering the latest bankruptcy of yet another archdiocese, perhaps the Pontiff might need to discuss a more pressing matter before the faithful than gay marriage.

Only a decade ago I was planning my memorial at Grace Cathedral because someone with only eight T-cells has hard questions to ask. I believe it is now possible I may someday plan my wedding there instead. And because of gay men like me, telling their truth to the church where we belong (the church that in fact brought me back from the edge after all the death around me took my sanity), I also believe that there is nothing that will return the Episcopal Church back to the beliefs that other Anglicans may still cling to from the past century. I also believe that, since television has moved beyond “Amos and Andy” stereotypes of “Will and Grace” and into positive gay character rolls of professional, successful people living ordinary lives, nothing fundamentalists can argue will prevail. I also believe mainstream Americans better understand gays and we are moving on.

The most quoted section of the Declaration of Independence pertains to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Forty years ago, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote in Loving v. Virginia, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men” and this rings loudly when considering gay marriage today. And since that decision, we’ve come to understand more clearly that human sexuality really contains one certainty; there is no possible choice in the innate way we feel toward each other. This I believe –America is ready to accept the reality that same gendered couples can and do live in abiding love, pledged to each other against all odds and without support, and that the right to declare this before God and country never has and never will threaten the wellbeing and integrity of any who may enter into marriage.

Another quotation that focuses my attention toward marriage is the scriptural “Many waters cannot quench love.” Americans have always lived more as loving people than as a people of hate. More than our divisions, love pursues us in every vision of happiness and yes, even leads us. I believe that as we are tired of maintaining intolerant ignorance, so too are we more ready to embrace the “pursuit of happiness” and we can declare this inalienable right once and for all people, regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation. And as in the Episcopal Church, America will know our stories and begin to claim them as part of our diversity, “the pursuit of happiness,” leading to a freer, more nurturing and sustainable society. This I believe is also what our founding fathers intended when these radical words were written.