With the passing of Amendment 1 in North Carolina two weeks ago and President Obama's declaration that he thinks same sex couples should be able to get married, I have been thinking about what it means that same sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005.
Years ago, I'm sure I would have been on the side saying marriage should be between a man and a woman. I consider this viewpoint to be naive and uninformed. At the time, did I even know anyone who was gay? Turns out yes, but I didn't know it. I am ashamed of my old way of thinking. How dare I judge others?
I remember when same sex marriage became legal in Saskatchewan and then a few months later legal, by law, everywhere in Canada. I believe my opinion at the time was somewhat indifferent, perhaps I thought it was interesting.
But I was still uneasy. I remember telling one of my friends, during a discussion of same sex marriage, "not in my church", despite the fact that my church was the first in Regina to be an affirming congregation. She responded by saying "That's awful!" and she was right. In saying that, it was like she took me by the shoulders and shook sense into me. I immediately felt the need to defend my opinion, but I had nothing to back it. I had no reason whatsoever. I realized over the days and weeks that followed that there was nothing wrong about same sex marriage.
I am ashamed of the way I used to think, but I'm glad I changed my mind. Clearly, whether or not same sex couples can marry has no bearing on my personal life. I do think it has significance in our culture. In our culture, it is not just some people that are good, everyone is good. When I was growing up, I remember that it was more or less acceptable to look down about gay people or perceived gay tendancies. I'm not going to pretend that life is easy for kids or adults that may be gay today. In fact, I know the opposite to be true. The teasing at school is awful. The difference is, adults will stand up. I will stand up. The difference is, because it is the law, I can talk to my class (8 and 9 year-olds) about what has gone on in the world recently and say that in Canada, it's legal. For us, it's legal. The voice that is heard in my class is the voice that says it's okay and that it's right. I'm sure that there are chidlren that think that it's wrong, but when I say it's right, it's the law, that becomes the message in our class. At least I hope. I am quite sure that my teachers would have been indifferent if the issue where presented, not saying much. I don't even have to state my opinion, I can just say, it's the law, it's the way it is in our country.
And let's hope it always will be.