Between the empty banter of filibustering Republicans in committee yesterday, I asked myself how I would react to the passage or failure of a civil unions bill in Colorado. I wasn’t asking as a gay man, but as a gay Christian man. Immediately, I rebuffed: Why should being Christian make any difference?
But it does, somehow. Maybe not in the substance of the bill, but in the process and aftermath. Our struggle as a community is to take what feels like a slap in the face and turn the other cheek. We are left with few choices: back up, regroup, and restructure our process so that come the new legislative session in November, we will be ready to push aggressively for the passage of another civil unions bill.
The citizen side of me balks when I hear how manipulated the process was last night. I want nothing more than to hurl expletives at those responsible for the death of nearly-nascent, long-overdue freedoms. And I wanted to be in the House last night, when the supporters of SB 2 shouted out in condemnation as the bill’s final chance for passage was extinguished.
But sometimes, I think I’m first a Christian. No, I’m always first a Christian—in this: that my faith girds my humanity. I’m privileged to be an American citizen and a resident of Colorado, but when disappointment rears, I almost always retreat to my core. I ask myself, “What would I do as one who believes in the tenets of the Christian faith?”
The answer is always simple, always the same: love one another. Oh, I know it sounds trite and storybookish, but it is absolutely true. Yes, I am deeply frustrated with the Republican leadership of this state; yes, I am disappointment with those who manipulated the political process; yes, I am outraged at the dismissal of so clear and necessary a canon of rights. But I am in favor of civil unions—and gay marriage—because it accords with that injunction to love the neighbor. Though attainment of that in the political sphere might be slower, and more painful, than I would like, I cannot turn away from love in my reactions. I must remember what it is to forgive and be forgiven, to reach out in understanding, and to advocate for those who are abused by the system. And I must do it all with love.
I hardly think the majority of Coloradans would blame the leaders of the LGBT community and their advocates in the Legislature if their reaction to SB 2’s failure were vitriolic. And yet, the way forward—as many already know—has to be grounded in understanding, respect, and equality. There is hope that November will bring us new opportunities as a community, and that we will succeed where once our efforts failed. And I hope that we can release our anger in productive, positive ways; that we can rekindle passion for the cause, and for each other. Let that fire—burning every brighter—be the hallmark of our walk to the Capitol this fall. When civil unions and, some day, gay marriage become law, I hope that we will not linger with resentments, but take the higher road, and leave behind the pettiness that once marred our state and government.
As a Christian, I strive for this. But as human beings, we all value the fundaments of love and respect—whether Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, or of any other faith. I hope and pray that these are our emblems, the marks of a generation and a time that our sons and daughters will look to with beaming pride.
So, let us make civil unions—on both sides of the aisle—a civil affair, and grant equality and respect where both are due. It’s time.