One of the most divisive issues out there right now is the debate over whether or not gays should be allowed to marry. It is obviously an extremely sensitive topic, and I certainly can understand at least some of the reservations that opponents of gay marriage have to the idea, especially from a legal standpoint. However, as someone with a personal connection to this issue, I feel a need to speak out in favor of it, and to reaffirm my belief that gay marriage is a fundamental moral right.
You see, I am a parent of a gay child. My son, who is now an adult, came out to me some time ago. When he did, he explained to me that he’d known he was gay for some time, and that his sexuality wasn’t something that he chose, but rather something that had always been a part of him. In retrospect, it was obvious. The signals were there, but I wasn’t ready to see them. Regardless, I was deeply moved by his honesty and tremendously proud that he found the courage to be honest with me.
Before my son came out to me as gay, I’ll admit that, while I didn’t think about the issue of gay rights very much, it was not something I supported. If anything, my own stance on the issue was probably influenced by a faith-based approach rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. What made my mind up, though, was the fact that my son was the same person he’d always been. The only difference was that I now had a deeper understanding of the child I’ve always cherished. I took his brave admission as an opportunity to reexamine my own beliefs, which, I’m ashamed to say, were not particularly compassionate or well-thought-out.
Today I count that as my biggest regret: that I failed to adopt a sensitivity towards gay rights until the issue showed up at my own doorstep.
Subsequently, I wrestled with my preconceived notions about gay marriage. Did it make sense to deny loving, consenting gay couples, like my son and his life partner, a liberty that other couples enjoy, and which, if exercised, wouldn’t harm anyone? Would gay marriage actually compromise the sanctity of an institution that I believed to be the bedrock of society? Knowing that my son was gay forced me to evaluate the issue from a different angle—not simply as a Supreme Being, but that of a concerned father who simply wants His children to have the same opportunities for health and happiness that He’s enjoyed.
What I eventually decided was to follow my heart. And what my heart told me was that it is always best to treat people with love and compassion. Today, my son and I have a great relationship, because it is based on a mutual acceptance of who we are as people. How could I possibly deny my son the chance of marrying his partner and living a long, happy life with him? I couldn’t. And today, I can proudly say that nothing would bring me greater joy as a parent than to look my son in the eye and say, “Jesus, I bless this marriage, and wish you and David all the joy in the world.”
It is okay to change your mind. It is okay to grow as a person. It is okay to say, “I was wrong.” And it is more than okay to fight for what you believe in.
Thus, I urge the Supreme Court to consider this issue with empathy, and I trust that they will make the decision that will land them on the right side of history. And by the way, if they don’t, I can guarantee the consequences will not be pretty. I am watching, Supreme Court. Choose wisely.