When I look at all of the hubbub about next week’s impending ruling on Marriage Equality, I find myself aksing…does this matter to me? I also find myself asking that question when we are engage in conversation about the economy and the real life impact surrounding Sequestration…again, does it matter to me? When I hear about immigration reform, I also wonder…what does it matter to me? And looking at the flurry of conversation out there about the newly elected Pope Francis, I wonder what do any of these issues have to do with me?
For the record, I am a single gay man. I am also a graduate student in Seminary and I have steady well paid work with a non-profit. I am a born US citizen who as the child of an immigrant, grew up with great respect for my born nationality. I am also a Unitarian Universalist which means I am spiritually liberal to a fault. My bills are paid, I have a nice circle of friends, I have paid for an expensive Ivy League education, I have a car and a roof over my head, good health…in short, an abundance of privilege.
I also however, have brown skin. I also have, in the past been denied work, purchases and even housing for both my perceived sexual orientation and my race. I lived with and loved and ultimately split from a relationship with someone who was undocumented here in the states. I am also a Christian in a denomination that although it has Christian roots, has many members who are quite vocally anti-Christian. To that end, it does not serve me well to ask the question “what do these things matter to me” but rather, “what do these things matter to ALL of me?”
Next week when the Supreme Court hears cases on the un-Constitutionality of Proposition 8 and DOMA, they will be hearing cases that do not affect my current condition. But rather, these cases and all of the issues I present in this post affect something much more precious than my immediate self. These issues all affect my dreams. I aspire to a committed and monogamous relationship with the person I love, who I know will also be male. No government should be able to dictate or indicate the “validity” of that relationship. If couples are being rewarded for steadfastly serving as pillars of their communities, either with or without children, but certainly by setting an example of fidelity and constancy, then I want to be able to garner that benefit as well. I do not want to be singled out as a social pariah because of the gender of who I love. I want to dream, dream big and know that somewhere, somehow, that my dream might just come true.
This goes for my economic stability as well. I am not just someone who has had financial privilege, but I am also someone who has been intimately involved in navigating the social systems around aging parents; trying to dance between the goals of being a good son and the financial collapse of 2008 that took the value of our family home and a couple of family jobs with it. All of me is disgusted by legislators who feel it is more important to spend 5 years posturing and avoiding solutions (while they continue to collect 6 figure salaries) as I bounce from job to job to pay for everything from bankruptcies to funerals and still try to eke out a weekend here and there to feel human. I dream of security.
All of me feels the heartache of living with a partner who despite his love for me was paralyzed by the fear of being undocumented; someone who has made a good living since his arrival, never done anything dishonest and made a wonderful life for himself, but the system doesn’t work for him. There is no clear path to resolving his issue and I have to live with the conflict and shame of leaving that relationship in part because of the anxiety and fear and limitations that this situation required we live under. I dream of a place where two people who love are not asked to make a choice between their homeland and their life partner.
Lastly, all of me means that not only do I personally identify as a Unitarian Universalist and thereby embrace a strong sense of humanism and rational perception of life, but I identify as a Christian. So within Unitarian Universalism I must always bring these two characters into balance. Turning to the three legged stool of Episcopalianism (scripture, reason, tradition) I look at the Catholic church with both respect for its adherents and deep sorrow for some of its misguided leadership. I dream of being able to embrace all of my religion without shame.
So although I am single, Marriage Equality matters to me. Although I have money, resolving our national budget matters to me. Although I am a natural US citizen, Immigration Reform matters to me, and although I am a Unitarian Universalist, the Pope matters to me. My challenge to you is this: ask yourself honestly as our world lurches toward important decisions this year and even as soon as next week, how does the world matter to you? How does the world matter to ALL of you?