Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit down with Jen Anesi, the incoming editor of Troy Patch, an online daily newspaper. We talked about the comments made by the Mayor of Troy, Michigan -- Janice Daniels -- in a Facebook posting. This conversation occurred after I had written a response yesterday here at Ponderings on a Faith Journey.
A portion of that conversation, which Jen videotaped was placed on the Troy Patch page today. I would like to share that brief piece to further the conversation.
As I told Jen, my views on this issue are influenced by the fact that my brother came out as gay several years ago. When he did so, that forced me to deal with the issue in a very different way. It was no longer an academic discussion. It was a personal one. As I deal with this question I keep in mind the question of how my brother will be received, as well as other members of my family. Many of us have members of our family who are gay. We may have grown up with a certain perspective on the issue, perhaps influenced by our church background, but likely just as easily based on culture.
The times, they are a changing. The question of gay marriage is with us and won't go away. We are in much the same place as a society as we were a half century ago when across the country decisions were being made to end bans on interracial marriage. So the question is -- how will we go forward? Where will the religious community come down on this issue? We may not all agree, but we need to start having a conversation that is civil and informed. Comments like those of the mayor, placed as they were on her Facebook page, referring to gays and lesbians as "queers," doesn't further the conversation. This is a slur meant to demean the other person. The fact that homosexuals use the word for themselves doesn't give others the right to use it. The reason it is used in this way is simple to remove from the word the power it has to hurt and destroy the lives of others. It is an attempt to subvert a demeaning word and concept.
I'm please to see that at least to this point most of the response to the mayor's comments have condemned her usage of this word. Few are defending it. Most respondents are at the very least demanding an apology, and many are asking her to resign. All of this is a step in the right direction, but it's only a step. We have before us a very important conversation, and was true with the Civil Rights movement, it is a conversation that will not get resolved over night.
I invite you to watch/listen to this video. It's edited down from what was about 5 minutes of video conversation, but it reflects accurately my perspective. I should note that our congregation does not have a stated policy on gay marriage at this time, so this is my perspective, though it is shared by many, if not all in the congregation.