Monday, April 8, 2013

Being Civil When Discussing Civil Marriage (and Other Topics)

This post is going to be shorter than most. I'm preparing to move in less than a week, and don't have as much time as I'd like to write this post. But though this post will be short, I am once again addressing a controversial topic.

On March 27th of this year, the United States Supreme began hearing oral arguments on an appeal for a ruling that found parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. DOMA is a federal law that was enacted in 1996 that recognizes marriage as a union of a man and a woman (and limits all federal marriage benefits to opposite sex couples) and prohibits required inter-state recognition of same-sex marriage in the United States.

As the time for these oral hearing approached, both the news media and social media exploded with opinions for and against the striking down of DOMA and the legalization of same-sex marriage. I have read opinions on both sides that are passionate, and accuse those that disagree with them of being hateful and trying to force their agenda on everyone.

Back in 2008, when Prop. 8 was on the ballot in California, despite living two states away, I felt very much caught in the middle of the debate. There were extreme opinions on both sides. Those with extreme opinions in favor of Prop. 8 looked on every sexual minority as deviants, sinners, perverts, etc. that were trying to force their skewed view of morality on everyone. Those that were opposed to Prop. 8 looked on Mormons, religious conservatives, and other supporters as being hateful, bigoted, closed-minded, and trying to force their religion and morality on everyone. As an SSA/bisexual Mormon, I felt attacked and persecuted by those on both sides of the issue, and most before they knew my opinion on the matter.

In fact, I remember at one point telling someone that was sharing her opinion on Prop. 8 that I could see both sides of the issue. Her response to me showed that as far as she was concerned, there wasn't another side that was even worth being considered. As far as she was concerned, those that disagreed with her were just being hateful, pushy and trying to force their opinions on others, and nothing more.

A week and a half ago, it felt like everything that I had experienced during Prop. 8 was being brought up again. If I didn't support same-sex marriage, then I was a hateful bigot with toxic opinions. If I didn't stand against same-sex marriage, then I had no values and was aiding in the flood of immorality on society. As far as some were concerned, there was no middle ground.

Most of these passionate opinions were expressed in the social media, such as Facebook. Some of these opinions were expressed in the break room at my work. After listening to one such opinion shared, I remember sending a text to a few friends that day expressing my frustration and that I might have to start taking my breaks somewhere else.

There was, however, one conversation I had that I was heartened by. I was speaking with one of my coworkers (who is also a friend of mine), and even though we had somewhat different views, we were able to express our views in a civil and respectful manner. On some issues, we acknowledged that we disagreed and that we didn't have to agree with each other to be civil and to be friends.

Over the coming months, the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of DOMA and Prop. 8. As that happens, there will be those that will agree with the rulings, and those that will disagree. Some will feel very passionate with how they feel. As this happens, my hope is that we may all be civil and respectful of others, especially those with whom we disagree.

* * * * *

In four days, it will be one year to the day since I came out publicly about my sexual orientation. Come back in two weeks as I discuss what my life is like one year later.

No comments:

Post a Comment