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Same-Sex Marriage: What Is It Really About?
by Sherri Jackson
2004-07-01

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Commitment—The act or an instance of committing, something pledged, especially an engagement by contract involving financial obligation. The state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to course of action or another person or persons.

Marriage—The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife. A wedding, a close union.

— The American Heritage Dictionary

If you pick up any paper, turn on any TV channel, or sit in the chair at your local barber or salon, the topic same-sex marriage is hot! I need to make one thing clear before I voice my opinion. I am writing this from a single person's perspective. I say single because I have never been in a ceremony or marriage with a man or woman, and I am not at the present in a committed relationship.

The media, church, organizations, and the White House are up in arms over this same-sex marriage thing. I am not clear why folks are tripping. But, I am clear we the LBGT community are the pond for the November election.

Selected Bush has made it very clear he will be the first President to try to change the constitution and discriminate openly about who really should be married to whom, and what constitutes a real union, and couple.

I am also disturbed about how the media plays this out in terms of color. We see Europeans of all ages getting married, and fighting this cause. We see the African Americans as the haters of this marriage ordeal. Some African American ministers joining the bandwagon with some European ministers getting their cuts of faith-based initiatives while they dance the tune from the White House in bashing LBGTs.

While LBGT are the targets, why can no one explain where the money for AIDS went for Africa? What about the 20. 3 million jobs gone? What about those children left behind in education? What's that really about? Believe it or not there are folks of color in happy, loving, committed unions. I did not say one European and the other of color. That also is another possible media tactic, and some say a political topic as well. I make this emphasis due to recent discussion, and media focus. This focus never looks like all of society. Mostly gay, European, and male. Who one chooses to love and be in union with is one's business. If love crosses the color line, so be it. But, some say it is much harder if you are of color, and an 'out' public figure, and joined with another individual of color. Is this due to history, society, culture, and religion?

I was recently in deep dialogue with a heterosexual African American, elder, mentor and friend. She wanted to share the recent marriage sermon her twenty-something pastor gave his Baptist Congregation. Of course you know he read scriptures from Romans, and Leviticus. He told the congregation they were to love the person but hate the sin. I let her talk and then I nicely lit into her. I asked her did she even know the history of marriage between a man a woman? Did she not feel marriage was a form of oppression towards women? Did she even know the history of slavery and marriage? I also had to remind my good friend I am an African American, female, and out lesbian. Why would she as an African American female desire to bash me and others with that oppressive Theology trick? I told her I and others are always leery of anyone who gay bashes. I don't care what color and gender! I told Mary there are lots of clergy who are gay.

What I don't understand is how do we as LBGT individuals attend churches that continue to teach oppressive theology? Mary changed the subject. Some of those same male, assumed gay clergy are the bashers, and why is this? Could the church be promoting the 'Down Low', and the closet? But, we debate what is moral or civil in marriage. Where are the clergy that support this issue? Or have their voices been silenced with the conservative rhetoric?

We really need to ask ourselves what is this legal uproar about and why now? We have to ask ourselves how do we feel about marriage as African American LBGT people? It may say a lot about how we feel as a people. I believe two people who love each other, who are committed to each other over a period of time, are entitled to the same benefits as heterosexuals.

Some LBGT folks aren't supportive of this marriage thing. Parents used to pick your mate with a goal of keeping property in the family. Love might develop during marriage—romance, and sexual attraction, weren't a factor. Individuals married within their race and economic class. In the 1800-1920s Individuals had more input, but family needs remained the main focus. Slaves could not legally marry though most entered some sort of formal union. One in six slave marriages ended in the sale of one partners. Between 1920-1990 industrialization, mobilization, and the rise of middle classism all created the so-called 'companionate'. Women gained property rights, no-fault divorce laws became the norm. Interracial marriage became legal for some in 1967, and in some places even later. My parents were married 52 years before my dad passed away. I don't think their marriage was rosy, but it fit a lot of the categories of the history of marriage. Maybe that is why their marriage and so many others lasted from that generation? We need to look inside ourselves individually before joining collectively. Being committed means being and taking responsibility also of another individual. Then just maybe there will be more faces of color out there on the frontline voicing our political agenda about this same-sex marriage thing.

Marriage in America has always been a 'civil contract.' So why the uproar? As more African-American churches join the conservatives, it will become harder to fight for social justices that impact LBGT, women, and folks of color. But we must keep pushing on with the fight. Even this same-sex marriage fight.

sherriactup2@yahoo. com


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