On Monday, February 13th, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoir is scheduled to sign into law the Marriage Equality Bill, making Washington the seventh state in the United States to not discriminate between same-sex and hetero-sexual couples. As imagined, there is loud commentary on both sides of this issue. But in the background can be heard the soft steps of a group of individuals marching from Vancouver to Olympia in celebration of Marriage Equality.
On Saturday, my family took part in this march. Littlest, at 5 years of age, was the youngest marcher. I believe his grandfather, at much more than 5 years of age, was the oldest. It doesn’t really matter how old the marchers are, for anyone of any age can be an activist for positive change. And in the case of the Love for All: An Interfaith March for Marriage Equality, the marchers are activists for justice and equality for all persons to marry, regardless of gender.
As we drove to the where the march began on Saturday, my oldest son asked from the back seat, “Mom, is there a chance this could get…violent?” I heard real fear in his voice. Because as a middle schooler, Biggest knows how people can be. He knows that most people are good in their deed and word, but not all. So he was right to be apprehensive.
“Yes, I suppose it could. But Dad and I will do everything it takes to keep you safe. And I want to believe that most people will support us as we march into Longview. People might say mean things and that is their right. But I don’t think anything bad will happen.”
And in the time my kids and I marched along the highway, nothing bad did happen. Instead, lots of good happened. A group of 24 people marched along, some holding signs, others coffee cups. We were connected. We were a community. And people by and large supported us and our march. It was good to have our right to march affirmed, or at least not threatened. We have the right to raise our voices in political activism. We have the right to our opinions and to state those opinions. It is our right, as is the right for others to disagree with us. We have these rights because we are citizens of the United States of America and the US Constitution and its amendments give us those rights.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all 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.” ~ The United States Constitution
Later, as Littlest and I brought up the rear of the march, I asked him if he knew why we were marching. He looked up at me, wearing a bright yellow Spongebob hat and covered head to toe in a yellow rain poncho. “No. Not really. Its something about love though.”
And that is precisely right. This march for Marriage Equality is very simple. It is about love.
My children are being raised in a progressive Christian home which is to say we talk about what we do much more than what we do not do. And it is pretty simple, living by one commandment especially:
“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. ” Matthew 22:39
Although many folks would view my family as not living a very faith-filled life, I say we do. Because in our words and our deeds we aim to treat all people as we wish to be treated. In our home, we practice a faith that is not fear or shame based. Instead, we practice a faith that is love and respect based.
And because I am a believer in transformation and the Constitution, I believe everyone has the right to their own faith and their own way of living that faith. However, I do not believe that our lives of faith should infringe upon others’. And it is upon the intersection of those rights that we marched.
One of the marchers was told that by participating in a march for marriage equality he must be “gay” and that he is “un-American”. And while I must accept that person’s opinion, I do not have to be silent about that opinion. It seems to me that that opinion is based on fear, judgement, and bias. And it has nothing to do with justice and love.
My family and I will continue to walk towards justice and love for all, even those whose opinions differ from ours. One step at time, I believe we can become better people. We can demonstrate through what we do, and not simply what we don’t do, what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves. We can speak up for others, especially for those who may not have the ability to speak for themselves.
I took this photo on Saturday morning and it represents so much to me. A flag and an umbrella. One symbolizing the strength of the US and its Constitution, the other symbolizing the protective rainbow of Covenant.
One step at a time, both that flag and that rainbow walk towards Marriage Equality.
I am happy to have asked my children to walk with the March for Marriage Equality. And I am thrilled that they did.
ps. The outpouring of support from gay and straight people has been huge. One woman thanked me over and over for marching. She said her dear uncle lived with his partner for 50 years and could only be called “friends” and she thanked us in his memory. Each marcher has their own stories–stories which remind us why the March for Marriage Equality is so needed.
If you or someone you know is looking for a church that embraces all people and encourages deep conversations about faith and living a faith-filled life, please visit www.ucc.org for a listing of local United Church of Christ churches. The First Congregational UCC of Vancouver is one of the organizers of this march.