Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We Aren't Here to Judge

I'll keep this as brief as possible. But it's complicated.

I'm a practicing Catholic. I attended Catholic schools for the first 12 years of my education. I pray. I go to mass. I had Audrey baptized. I try to be a good person. I try to follow the church's teachings. I at one time thought, and at one time even said out loud, something like "I don't care if same-sex couples have the same rights as married people - insurance and stuff like that - but the word 'marriage' should be for a man and a woman." I thought, really thought, that this kind of thinking let me both fit in with my more liberal friends and not be excommunicated or face an eternity in hell. It also let me say, in another breath, "we aren't here to judge." Today, I only still believe one of these statements.

Here's how I came to it.

Nine or so years ago, I was a recent college graduate. I lived in St. Louis with a roommate. I taught 7th grade language arts at an inner city public school. My new friends were from California and New York and everywhere in between. I missed Blake, who was in medical school in Indiana. I missed my old friends. I missed my parents. My downstairs neighbor's apartment was broken into. Twice. When I was at home upstairs. My students stole my candy. And my phone. I spent a Sunday afternoon in the hospital after an acute case of "food poisoning". I was miserable. And not just when I was in the hospital. I felt lost and I didn't love myself like I used to.

Enter, a door-to-door salesperson. Basically selling credit cards. And raising money for the Human Rights Campaign. I was feeling generous that day. I didn't know what the HRC did. Or what kind of human rights we were talking about. But I gave some money. And, since I needed a credit card in my own name and unattached to my parents, I signed up. I received a shiny new VISA with a serious credit limit. I could have bought a new car on credit alone. And, it had this symbol.

I liked it. I also got a bumper sticker with the same symbol. I liked it, too. I slapped it on my car. I had no idea what I was doing. Or supporting. Or why. None at all. That's what sad, lonely, lost 22 year olds do. They just do stuff without thinking about it. Granted, there are worse things I could have done (ahem, did do - see "food poisoning" above) than stick an equality-themed bumper sticker on my car without knowing fully what it stood for. I guessed it meant "equality" and I liked that idea. It fit with my explanation for how I, as a Catholic, could easily remain friends with and support people who were on birth control, had pre-marital sex, got divorced. "We aren't here to judge," I would tell myself. Plus, I really could never believe that God would ask us to isolate, condemn, or hate people for any reason at all. But even with these kinds of thoughts about my faith and what my church expected of me, I thought that gay people and same-sex couples were different and deserved to be treated differently. That's what my church told me. And I didn't know anyone who could convince me otherwise.

But, time happened. Friends' marriages happened. Friends' divorces happened. And my own marriage happened. I love my husband. I love the family we have created. I love being married. It is the most rewarding commitment I've ever made. And I plan to stick with it for my entire life. But it is hard. Really hard sometimes. And, over the last five years, my thinking on marriage, and same-sex marriage specifically, have changed.

Any two people who are in love, committed to one another, and willing to give marriage a real shot deserve it. They deserve the title. They deserve the ceremony. They deserve the government's support. They deserve our support.

So, long story short, I support marriage equality. I still have some ways to go in terms of figuring out how this effects my Catholicism. Or maybe the church has some ways to go. I don't know. But, I'm not here to judge. We are not here to judge.