Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sweet Sixteen

Hawaii is on its way to becoming the sixteenth state to approve of marriage between same-sex couples.  For the sixteenth time now, we’re holding our breath and hoping for the best.

Well, most of us are.  There’s also this news item.

"Bishop Larry Silva of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu warned in a letter to parishioners that allowing same-sex marriage would open the door to incest and polygamy and cause poverty and juvenile suicides."

“Isn’t that precious?” as Church Lady used to say.

The words pop right off the page at you.  

[Don't take the New York Times' word for it - check out the bishop's actual letter to his parishioners warning of the slippery slope.]

*               *               *

There was a time of hardship for the village.  Many didn’t have enough to eat.  The villagers got together and realized if they all pooled what they had, they could create a giant pot of soup large enough to feed everybody.  One farmer brought a couple potatoes, another some carrots and celery.   A woman brought in some spices she had been saving and somebody actually showed up with a chicken.  Little by little, an onion here and a turnip there, the soup came together.

And just as it was almost ready to be served, the village priest came by, zipped down his fly and pissed into the pot.

We all contribute what we have to contribute.

The right to marry is the latest struggle for dignity and equality the LGBT community has been engaged in.   And hopefully it will be one of the final battles they will have to fight.   They’ve struggled for the right not to be beaten on sight, for the right to work and to live where they choose.  They’ve fought for the right not to be declared mentally ill and to be sent off as youngsters to brainwashing camps to “pray the gay away.”  They are coming into the light.   The day is actually in sight when people will look at gay people and ask what all the fuss was ever about.  We might actually stop worrying about hair and eye and skin color, whether one writes with the left hand or the right.  We might finally get it that it matters far less whom one loves than that one has the capacity to love.

Imagine that you are a man living with HIV which you contracted from a blood transfusion.  You fall in love with the woman of your dreams and ask her to marry you.  She says yes.  You are both practicing Catholics.  You marry with family members on both sides filling the church.  It’s a great day.  You head off on your honeymoon with the words of the priest who just married you ringing in your ears.  “Remember.  No condoms.  Your church insists you must not ever wear a condom.”

Imagine you are a young woman who married a man who turned out to be an abusive alcoholic.  You try your best to turn him around, but he resists your efforts and only beats you the harder for it.  Finally, in fear for your life, you leave him and are granted a divorce.  A year goes by and you meet the man of your dreams.  He wants to marry you and have children and make a home with you and a refuge from all you’ve gone through. Your church insists this is not possible.  You are still married in the eyes of God to somebody else.  You must say no.

Imagine you are a woman living in a family with four children and you have been following the dictates of your church and avoiding not only condoms but all forms of birth control.  You become pregnant for the fifth time.  Your doctor tells you this pregnancy could be very dangerous to your health and you will need to spend the remaining months in bed.  Your husband loses his job.  You have no family to step in and you consider abortion.   Your church insists if you take this step your soul will roast in hell. 

God has asked more of people with same-sex feelings than he has of the majority of the population, your priest tells you.  He has favored the heterosexually inclined.  But God is kind.  He will keep you in his favor if you embrace celibacy till the end of your days. 

Bishop Larry Silva is not the first Roman Catholic bishop to piss in the soup, and he is not likely, alas, to be the last.

But Hawaii knows it doesn’t need to live according to the dictates of the Larry Silvas of the world.  It seems to be coming of age.  It all depends on what happens on Tuesday.   Sixteen is a lovely number. 

Sweet Sixteen.

Photo credits:

Pissers of Prague from a flickr page.  The photo was taken by and belongs to  David Curtis 

Sweet Sixteen cake

UPDATE, November 13:

Illinois extended same-sex rights before Hawaii did, and we were therefore calling Illinois #15 and Hawaii #16.  But it turns out Hawaii's governor signed their bill into law today and it goes into effect on December 2, while the law won't go into effect in Illinois until June 2014.   That makes Hawaii #15 and Illinois #16.  (Of course, if another state (or - why not get really optimistic and say other states - plural) get/s on the ball and legislate/s rights to same-sex couples in the meantime, Illinois could be bumped ever farther down the line.)  Who would ever have imagined once the ball got rolling it would roll this fast?

So I apologize for the now misleading title.   We just have to open two bottles of champagne, and not just one.

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