Last night, I was in downtown Austin with my husband and daughter to celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality. Many of us stood in tears as we watched joyous members of the LGBT community embrace and applaud as our mayor, local elected officials, and Austin’s police chief spoke about the significance of the day. Love, acceptance, and rainbow flags filled the air.
Throughout the day, I wiped back tears as my Facebook feed began to fill with images of faces I love smiling beneath a transparent rainbow, symbolizing one of the most important civil rights events of our time. Everyone from my 67 year-old mother to friends who are members of the LGBT community changed their profile pictures to show their support. I cried when I saw the face of one of my mother’s cousins, a man who has been with his partner over 30 years, and whose legal marriage in New York is now recognized in Texas, where he’ll share the rest of his life with the man he loves.
Before I went to sleep last night, the final clip I watched was the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington singing our National Anthem outside the Supreme Court building. As I cried one last time, I fell asleep feeling immense gratitude and love.
This morning, I poured my cup of coffee and began my morning ritual where I check email and social media. I was excited to see more rainbow-covered faces, and to bask once again in the glow of so much love.
Then came the judgment.
A post discussing homosexuality being sinful. Another post about how the United States has defied God’s will. Another post suggesting that God is so mad, he’s talking to us through thunder.
I grew up in socially conservative East Texas, where a lot of people believed in an angry, judgmental God. I am fortunate because I attended church in a loving and nurturing Methodist community that wasn’t rooted in fire and brimstone. Lucky for me and for my sister, my mother taught us that love is love, and her interpretation of religion was that Jesus was a kind, open spiritual leader who lived a life based on loving others, not judging them.
Back then, homosexuality wasn’t discussed, at least not in my small town. We had family friends who were gay, but it was very quiet. I kept the lock on many a closet for gay friends to respect their privacy, and in many cases, their safety. Some of those people who came out later were people who once believed that homosexuality was a sin. It was ingrained in our upbringing.
As I read posts and comments condemning the actions of the Supreme Court, I have to ask this question: Can love be a sin?
Interesting question, right? For my friends who believe that homosexuality is a sin, it’s because of religion. The Bible is where we start to get befuddled, because it’s a tricky read with a lot of room for interpretation. A literal translation of the Bible would mean that we could still own slaves. If I interpret the Bible one way, because my husband was divorced before marrying me, our marriage isn’t recognized in the eyes of God, because divorce is a sin. On the other hand, if my husband wanted to use the Bible as his guide, he could just as easily come home one day and bring home a Tahoe full of sister wives.
To my friends who are having serious struggles between their religious beliefs and whether or not to support two men or two women choosing to marry, please take some time to watch video after video of couples who have spent their lives together who are truly in love. Ask yourself if God would judge two people who want nothing more than to have legal recognition of their union, and ask yourself if you are in the position to judge that yourself.
This morning, my first inclination was to make some quick edits to my Facebook friend list, but that action in itself defeats the purpose of being open and inclusive. I respect that not all of my friends will agree on this matter. One of the most beautiful things about where we live is that we have the right to free speech, to our own opinions, and to make our own decisions. So, unless the people in my social circles turn their judgment into hate, I’ll keep them on my friend list, and we can agree to disagree. What I won’t agree with, and never will, is that love is a sin. Because it isn’t.