TwitLonger

This will be a very sensitive area... the vote against same-sex marriage in North Carolina today. I realize and respect the sensitivity.

Many voting against are doing so out of religious conviction that same sex couples are an abomination. The fact that homosexuality runs throughout all of nature and certainly throughout all human history does not seem to dissuade them. Even though the Almighty must have some reason for such an abundant creation. However, I learned long ago that arguing faith is unproductive. The very essence of faith is that there is no other way to support it other than faith. And so, poking at it only serves to aggravate those who hold faith near and dear. And I do not wish to aggravate anyone.

In recent history, I have perceived a move toward understanding and accepting homosexuals. My personal encounters around the country and world have allowed me to be constantly surprised by the evolving generosity toward the gay community. And I am so deeply pleased by that.

Gay men and women have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. They have played important roles in my education and my career. They are leaders in my chosen field. And, here's the cliche - some of my very dearest friends are gay men and women. While I understand the differences between them and myself and my other straight friends and family - the differences have never felt significant to me, even when I was a child. Homosexuals are not "other" to me. They are simply part of my world.

As someone who has closely held bonds with many homosexuals, I can only wish them a full, joyous, successful life. I have wonderful relations with gay couples and gay families. I must tell you, they are some of the most loving and most successful couples and families I know. Maybe because they must work so much harder at times to survive.

When the subject of marriage comes up for them, I cannot but understand, sympathize and fully support their wish and their right to marry. As I would for any mature, adult, loving, dedicated people.

Marriage has two components - spiritual/religious and legal. It is my understanding and my belief that no religious institution can or should be forced by any government or law to condone or support anything that is antithetical to its core beliefs and practices. Hence, no church or temple or mosque or religious group with spiritual authority should ever be forced to perform a marriage they cannot support.

But likewise, the legal contract of marriage is a binding document between two adults (usually) who have made a commitment to each other and are seeking both the rights and responsibilities of marriage. No marriage is legal without it. Few rights can be conferred without it. And it seems to me that constitutionally, this contract cannot and should not be withheld based on gender. Just as rights of employment, education, security, housing and others cannot be withheld due to gender or sexual preference. This part of marriage is a binding contract. There is no basis with which to withhold it from these couples.

Even if I were to lay aside my personal relations with the gay community, I would still have to believe that by the founding laws of this nation and our constitution, we cannot withhold these rights.

Now, I understand this is not a universally held view. I have already received some pretty nasty responses from my urging North Carolinians to not vote for regressive measures on this subject. But why do our differences always have to be met with nastiness and cruelty? You don't have to agree with me and others who are like-minded, but why respond with profanity, character assassination, juvenile jibes, etc? It seems to me that these are the tools of the inarticulate, the petty and weak-minded. Surely we can disagree without resorting to that.

Lastly, there are those who say "celebrities" should stick to entertaining and shut up about their opinions. That somehow being recognizable means also being uninvolved and muted. Telling someone else, anyone else to "shut up" is the essence of immaturity. It's like putting your fingers in your ears and going, "Nyah, nyah, nyah". I didn't ask for celebrity nor do I flaunt it. I just go through my life, trying to do good and decent things, and making people laugh for a bit or at least occasionally distracting them from the less enjoyable aspects of daily life. But it doesn't mean I surrendered my right to be a member of society or a complete human being at the door. If you disagree with me, fine. You have every right to do so and say so. You can enter the conversation with respect and decency and maybe we'll learn from each other and affect each other. Or for those who cannot even tolerate the thought that someone might believe differently than they, they can ignore me. I'd say those are a pretty good range of choices.

So, to end a long winded tweet -- I fervently hope that North Carolina does not go down this path of discrimination. Not only are they trying to prevent a right that I think is deserved but they are seeking to undo settled law and break asunder committed, loving and decent people's hearts and lives - people who have done them no harm and pose no threat. It is a hateful legislation. It is on the wrong side of nature and the wrong side of history - in my opinion. And regardless of the outcome, I want the gay community to know that those who would support such legislation, though vocal when challenged, are an ever-diminishing minority.

I wish everyone reading this - regardless of sexual preference - love and joy and a full life with the person of their choice.
Thanks, JA.

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