Mutual Respect

Last week was a big week for our country and for me personally. The Supreme Court, comprised of largely conservative justices, held oral arguments about two massively important gay rights issues: California’s Prop 8, and DOMA. And the really cool part is, both are expected to be overturned. Did I mention that the Supreme Court has a conservative majority at current? That’s huge.

People on both sides of the issue are going a little nuts. I’m nuts with excitement because it’s really cool to watch history in the making and recognize that it’s happening.

But I’ve also noticed a trend that makes me really sad. I’ve seen several people announce that they’ve gone through their list of friends on facebook and unfriended anyone who doesn’t support the repeal of DOMA. Now let me clarify before people rush to unfriend me on facebook. I think DOMA is a crap law. It sucks. It needs to be repealed.

However, I also believe very strongly that good, healthy conversations need opinions from all sides. And folks, I LOVE a good debate. It’s cornerstone to our method of government. In order for democracy to work, we all must come together, with all our varying points of view, and have open, honest conversations.

Let’s bring it down to a more personal level. Forget about national politics, human growth on an individual level requires all sorts of stimulation. A belief that is truly worth holding will withstand scrutiny. It will hold up to questioning and dissenting opinion.

Some of my favorite people, the people who’ve really challenged me and helped me define who I am and what I’m about, are conservative. Starting with my mom.

My mom, who died two years ago in January, was a deeply religious woman. Her faith in God defined every aspect of her life and her behavior. For my part, I don’t believe in God beyond a human construct. In other words, I think we created God, not the other way around. She and I agreed on very little, but we agreed on some very important fundamentals. For example, tell the truth. Even when it’s inconvenient and painful. And always respect other people. They have a right to their thoughts and opinions. They have a right to live life and make their own decisions about conduct and behavior. And we both agreed that it’s okay to love someone who has a different set of beliefs.

Because of her, I’ve always been a student of humanity. The things people do and their motivations for doing those things, fascinate me. I don’t want the person who believes gay marriage is wrong to shut up and go away. I want him/her to talk to me about it. I want to understand that person’s thoughts and motivations. And I want to explain my views. I’m not even really interested in changing the other person’s opinions. I just want a vigorous conversation that we can both walk away from and still count one another as friends.

My friends don’t have to agree with me. I have many who don’t and I like it that way. I just want friends who are thoughtful, open to conversation (which also includes listening), and are able to disagree respectfully.

Tolerance involves a lot more than just supporting the issue of the moment. It’s about respecting everyone’s opinions, even when you disagree.

But I really do hope that DOMA is repealed.


7 thoughts on “Mutual Respect

  1. I completely concur. Peoples is peoples, whatever socio-political -ism they follow. Unless it’s a person (or page) that spends the majority of the time throwing about hate comments, I have no problems with keeping them around.


  2. Well said Jove. As you know, I have struggled with this over the last week – why? Because I took it personally when people were blatantly opposed to my getting married. Period. Right or wrong, for me – if someone I consider a friend or a family member speak out against something so personal to me – it hurts my feelings. It makes me question the validity of their feelings for me. Is it all an act?
    So it really wasn’t about the issue and their standing up for their beliefs – I’m all about live your own path – but DON’T pretend that you’re my friend or you care about me. Because – in essence – they told me they didn’t by posting what they believe.

    Why would I want to continue to invest in a relationship that doesn’t hold respect for who I AM – not what I believe – but the very essence of who I AM.

    Now, if it was a DIFFERENT issue that wasn’t so personal – I would pull out my Libra card and get to playing Devil’s Advocate – I also love a good argument 🙂

    So – Ta-dah! There’s my two dollar opinion 🙂


    1. Yvonne, I totally hear what you’re saying. And frankly, it would be incredibly difficult for me to hear that a family member or friend thought I shouldn’t be afforded the same rights as they are. I live in a very liberal pocket of the world, but I come from a very conservative pocket.

      I think you’re right. Anyone who really knows you and loves you will want you to have those rights. But the reason for that is because you took the time to get to know him/her and show him/her who you are and what you are about. I have friends who prior to knowing me and Tara would have landed on the side opposed to gay marriage, but because of their exposure to us, they have changed their thoughts about it.

      But, I also know that I have some friends and family who are deeply committed to their relationship with God. And they haven’t reached the point where they are able to reconcile their desire for me to have good things in life with their beliefs. And does that hurt? Yes. But it’s also a process. I still love them.

      On the reverse side of that coin, I’m perfectly willing to say that I don’t believe in God. I think that God was created by people because humans need to believe that someone is keeping score. And for someone who defines herself by her relationship with God, that statement would be very difficult to hear. It would be very hurtful. But they still love me.

      Either of us could say the other is not respecting who the other is at a basic, defining level and just walk away. But as long as we can talk about it, we will be okay.

      The big difference, of course, is that I’m not trying to take away anyone’s basic rights.

      And for the record, I wouldn’t ever be friends with someone who is spouting out a hate message and just being plain ol’ mean. There’s a big difference between open lines of communication and hate mongering.


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