When I heard on Tuesday night that North Carolina voted to enact an amendment to its state constitution that bans same-sex marriage, my heart sank. My heart sank for all of the couples and families and children of same-sex relationships who were given the message that their relationship was not worthy. My heart sank for the LGBT youth who saw their dreams of one day marrying the love of their life dashed. My heart sank in the knowledge that judgment, bigotry, fear, and ignorance had prevailed over acceptance, respect, empathy, and understanding.
And then, less than 24 hours later, I saw a small glimmer of hope. My faith in humanity was restored. My heart lifted just a little. Yesterday, President Obama publicly affirmed his support for marriage equality in an interview with ABC News. Not just support for civil unions. Not the endorsement of legal rights similar to marriage rights. But an affirmation that all people, regardless of sexual orientation, are entitled to and worthy of marriage rights.
I have previously expressed my strong support for marriage equality, summing my position up as follows:
“What opponents of marriage equality fail to realize is that marriage is, at its basic core, a legal contract between two consenting adults that does not rely on the involvement of the church for validity…While marriage is, at its simplest, a legal arrangement, at its most complex, it is an intricate kinship in which all persons must be given the opportunity to engage. Marriage is the creation of a partnership that needs to be nurtured through all of life’s joys and struggles – through the highs and lows of raising children (or not raising children); through the thrill of job promotions and agony of job losses; through the pain of dealing with the death of loved ones; through medical conditions and health concerns; through financial gains and losses; through the monotony of daily chores and the fulfillment of lifelong dreams. Marriage is about sharing a life, becoming a family (with or without children), and supporting each other so that as a whole the couple is greater than the sum of its individual parts…
A commitment as profound as the marriage commitment depends on the support of friends, family, and community in order to endure. While the relationships of same-sex couples may have the support of family and friends, without marriage equality, same-sex couples lack the same societal support for their relationship that heterosexual couples enjoy. A commitment as monumental as that of marriage not only relies on, but deserves, the respectful acknowledgement of society.”
I am extraordinarily pleased that President Obama shares my opinion, and I sincerely hope that he will use his position to convince others of the absolute urgency for marriage equality. With his public endorsement of marriage equality, I am optimistic that, despite certain setbacks for marriage equality, our nation will soon realize the errors of its ways and support all marriages regardless of sexual orientation.
But beyond my satisfaction with Obama’s political and social position, I am uplifted by his ability to publicly admit to the inadequacy of his previous stance (that civil unions and similar rights were sufficient), acknowledge his change of heart, and then affirmatively take a stand. Specifically, Obama stated,
“I am going through an evolution on this issue…I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
All too often we become firmly entrenched in our previous opinions and beliefs, too afraid to admit that we were wrong. So we dig in our heels, act on the defensive, and become even more firmly entrenched. Our adamant ignorance hurts ourselves, our community, our society.
I know it is difficult to admit fault, to acknowledge the errors of previously held opinions, to be accountable for mistakes, and to affirmatively take a stand.