The Politics of Love by Venessa Bowers

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I find it interesting that President Obama’s stance on gay marriage is being considered a political issue that will define whether or not he is re-elected as President of the United States. I have listened to both sides of this argument for years – should our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters be afforded the same rights and protections under the law as heterosexuals receive? Well, why not? It was only 45 years ago that in the South it was illegal for people of different races to marry. It, in fact, was a felony. We have come to understand that such limits on the right to love someone are shameful and immoral. How is this issue different?

I also find it interesting that one of the groups most vocally outspoken against gay marriage are black preachers and their congregants. These folks belong to a group who have been so horrifically oppressed for centuries, but yet participate in the oppression of another marginalized group. What is that about? Please don’t say it is about religion because “religion” was the reason put forth to oppress African Americans in countless ways.

Here’s where I come down on the issue. Most of the people I love are gay, African American, and women. All of these groups of people historically have been oppressed by the dominant discourse of “what is right for America.” What is right for America is the literal reading of the Declaration of Independence which states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (wo)men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights- that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This is a clear statement by the Founding Fathers. If we are to be free to pursue happiness, then WE THE PEOPLE need to step out of who can love.

This is not a political argument. It is not even a social argument. It is not a religious argument.  These arguments are subjective and therefore up for interpretation. It is a personal right. What I have learned from my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is that love is a gift from the Creator. The capacity to love is not determined by race, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. It is determined by the heart. The heart cannot be governed by anyone who does not own it.

I can tell you this with certainty, when I first married; no one asked me if I was ready to be married. No one asked me if I could fulfill the commitment of marriage as it is defined by the Church(es). And certainly no one asked me about my sexual orientation. Yet, my marriage failed just like the other 52% of heterosexual marriages in this country. Is that “what’s good for America?” People speak of the sanctity of marriage and most of those people have been divorced at least once. Where is the sanctity in that? The “foundation of the family” is another argument we hear – in the thinking that gays and lesbians cannot have healthy families. Let’s take a look at some statistics, shall we? Heterosexuals have NOT cornered the market on healthy families – if they had, I would be out of a job as a social worker who tries to assist these families to rebuild themselves. What has the traditional definition of marriage given to us? Broken homes. Lawyers who make a lot of money off of the mistakes we make in marriage. Bitterness, anger, and rage? Yes, let’s make that law.

My friends who are gay and lesbian have been in stable, committed, loving relationships for decades – and yes, with the same person. Love is love. I am blessed by the love of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and can only hope that I can learn to love others the way they love each other and me. I can learn that from them.

I believe that if one group of people is oppressed, all of us are oppressed. Isn’t it time to take care of our own families without casting aspersions and dogma on the families of others? Isn’t it time for all of us to live the lives we are created to live? Isn’t it time to love our neighbors? Loving them means supporting them. That is a political statement.

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1 comment so far

  1. Jennifer Downing on

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! Great job!


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