Today, let us be mindful of the many things we often take for granted. I’m asking all of you here, for whom this applies–to just consider for a moment– your material comforts, your health care, education– all the rights, privileges and protections under the laws you enjoy by simple virtue of the fact that you live in a great state–within an even greater country. I would ask that you give thanks for being married to someone you love and for having that union and family legally sanctioned everywhere by the powers that be. If all this applies to you, the only question I have is–“Wouldn’t you wish that everyone be equally blessed?”
My answer is yes–because there isn’t anything good and fine in my life that I wouldn’t want everybody to have. So I am here today, happy to lend support in favor of marriage equality. I came of age down South in the sixties. And for better and for worse, that experience imprinted me with an indelible awareness of boundaries. Racism, like all forms of bigotry, has a way of doing that–to its victims and benefactors alike, by purposely creating an unequal and unjust caste system of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. I share with gay people– firsthand experience –of what it means and how it feels– to be on the outside looking in.
One thing I believe that sets America favorably apart in the eyes of the world–is the spirit of our laws, which over time not only champions the individual and recognizes our diversity, but does not overlook and wisely safeguards the legal and civil rights of minorities too. One’s sexual orientation, like the color of one’s skin, is not something over which any of us has a choice. I don’t believe it’s fair or reasonable to exclude anyone on this basis. I am also disheartened whenever I see otherwise bright, well meaning people– misusing religion and science to justify bigotry and the denial of rights to others–which is, after all, the real issue here.
I have 5 sisters and 3 brothers. Many summers ago when I was a boy, we were out playing when our Dad unexpectedly showed up. He asked, “Who wants ice cream?” Of course we all said we did. So Dad was off to the store. Upon his return, we eagerly crowded about him as he led us inside to the kitchen table. As he reached into the bag, he told us there were only 2 half-gallons left in the whole store. We were dumbfounded when we realized Dad had only brought back 1 carton. Reading our faces, he simply smiled and told us that, “On a hot day like this, I figured somebody else might want some too.” I remember feeling a little chagrined, then I smiled, thinking to myself about somebody out there we didn’t even know, who like us, was benefitting from Dad’s thoughtful gesture and from the importance he placed on sharing. And isn’t that what inclusion is all about?
It’s always the right time– to stop behaving as if compassion, fairness, and equality are finite natural resources, to be doled out bit by bit and then– only to those of a select status. Our state’s motto is HOPE. I choose to believe– that this expectation is meant to apply equally to every soul living within its boundaries.