Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dear sons: Love who you love

Letter #18

I haven't posted one of these mom to son letters in a while. Once in a while, there's something that I think needs to be expressed and now is one of those times. There's been a lot in the news this past week about marriage equality. It can be a sensitive issue and some are really against it and some are really for it. My opinion is that I shouldn't have an opinion on it. That people outside of a relationship shouldn't have an opinion -- or an opinion that counts anyway. Why should anyone have any control over who someone else is allowed to be in love with? It just is a problem that really shouldn't exist. If you love someone and you want to marry them, why should others have a say in it?

One angle I've always looked at it from, as well, is that equal should be equal. Ok, let me explain a little more. I remember a few years ago when there were cases where employers began offering benefits, like heath and life insurance, to same sex couples. I didn't agree with that. Not that I didn't agree with same sex couples. And it wasn't that I thought that their partners shouldn't be eligible for benefits. My beef with it was this. I thought that if the partner in an unmarried same sex relationship would qualify for those benefits, then it was unfair to not extend benefits to unmarried opposite sex couples. And how could you discriminate on what partners could be eligible? How many people would list people as their partner just for those benefits where there wasn't a real relationship? What kind of financial strain would that put on employers if there was a sudden influx of non-married partners suddenly eligible to be on an insurance plan of someone they said they were in a relationship with? And imagine the paperwork nightmare as people bounced in and out of relationships. To me, it made the most sense to allow same sex marriage and make benefits available across the board for the spouse and require that there be a committed, legal relationship for eligibility.

But of course, it's an issue that is about much more than insurance legalities. It's about freedom. It's about freedom to love who you are attracted to and born to love. Isn't that the entire basis of the country that we live in? That we are all given the basic rights of freedom in many forms? I'm guessing that in a few decades your kids will not realize that this was such a big issue. Just like for me, voting as a women is just a part of every day life, but once women didn't have that freedom. Just like decades ago, a black man couldn't sit in a counter at a restaurant alongside a white man. Now all races live and work and eat alongside one another. I have no doubt that one day, two men or two women marrying will be a non-issue, but it seems like we're taking so long to get there.

I also want to urge you not to judge, even if you don't agree. I don't know what's in your head. You might not have the same view on it as I do. I hope you will be open-minded and have the courage to support what others may not think is right. I can't say that I've always been this supportive on the issue, but that's mainly because I grew up in a time when we were taught that it wasn't right to love someone you weren't supposed to and if you did, you were expected to hide it. We've made a lot of progress in the last three or so decades, but there are still generations who were raised to not be so tolerant. And many of them will continue to fight it simply because that is what they were taught and that is what they know and that is what they stubbornly believe is right. This generation is different and I hope you are able to recognize that and see its worth. Love who you love in your heart and don't let anyone tell you not to. And let others love who they love. It's up to them, not you.

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