My entire life I have been someone who tends to be inclusive rather than exclusive. I am not the type of person who pushes people away over disagreements. However, years of debating the same people and hearing the same tired arguments against me and my family have taken a toll on my well-being. I have come to the conclusion that the best thing for me is to purge the people from my life who are unwilling to see that Marriage Equality has no effect on their life but has profound consequences in my life. My new unyielding position is foreign to me. For years now I have been paying the price to include these people in my life and listen to their arguments against me and my family, but I am not willing to pay that price anymore. I have the right to live free of criticism, to pursue happiness, and to be surrounded by those who love and accept me just the way I am.
Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m not one to shy away from a debate. I know it may not seem so, but I don’t engage in debate every single time someone posts something to social media which I disagree with. I am a very opinionated person and I enjoy engaging with people who think or feel differently than I do. Occasionally I will debate with people when I already know them to be rigid in their stance if for no other reason than to provide an opposing viewpoint to people who may see their post and read the comments. The world is not black and white, there is a lot of room for gray and my opinion has changed a lot in several aspects of my individual ideology. I enjoy maintaining online relationships with people from all walks of life and engaging with them about their disagreements with my opinions and beliefs or discussing their viewpoints and stances. These exchanges allow me to challenge my own beliefs and either change and adapt my position or obtain further education to strengthen my initial opinion.
As a result of my desire to engage with a diverse group of individuals, I have been deleted and blocked by quite a few people over the years; although, I have never once deleted or blocked a single person on Facebook. Occasionally, I’m left wondering which stance of mine it was that pushed them over the edge, but that’s neither here nor there. I enjoy learning about people’s opinions and viewpoints and discussing mine with them whether I agree with or oppose them. I believe the world is more beautiful because it is filled with such a diverse populace. I truly do enjoy reading through the back and forth debates I find and occasionally instigate online.
I recognize that occasionally these debates may get a little heated. I heard an interesting analogy recently that I thought was spot-on for internet debates. From the Thinking Atheist podcast episode, “A Night of Cognitive Dissonance:”
There is something to be said about talking to somebody in person. When you have a dialogue with somebody in person, and when you’re not just hastily typing out your rabid, angry comment, there is a level of discourse that you have with another human being that you just lose completely when you’re on the internet. All sense of decency can go out the window; and I recognize that my sense of decency has gone out the window from time to time too. However, in real life, it is a totally different story. It’s like the road rage effect. If you’re standing in a line with a bunch of people, and you’re not surrounded by 2,000 pounds of automobile, and somebody comes up and cuts in front of you, you don’t bump them and start cursing them out. At the most aggressive, you may say, “hey, you just cut the line,” or, “hey, the line is back there.” But when the same thing happens when you’re surrounded by the protection of your metal cage, and somebody cuts you off, you flip them the bird while screaming and yelling, chase them down the road and flash your lights. Anonymity brings out the worst in people. [Both on the road and on the net.]
As I mentioned, I don’t engage every single time I see something I disagree with. One matter that is of particular interest to me though is Marriage Equality. This is an issue that I will engage about nearly every time I see someone dissenting. This is something I’ve been fighting for and debating about for over a decade now. My opinion on this is not changing. I have been fortunate to watch the general opinion of the country change over the years from 80% disapproval ratings for Marriage Equality to now a favorable opinion over 55%! The progress we have made is incredible. I’d like to believe that I had a part of changing the minds and hearts of at least a few of those people by living my life in an authentic way and engaging with them about why Marriage Equality is so important to me.
This summer, the Supreme Court is going to weigh in on the issue of Marriage Equality once again. I am hopeful they will rule in favor of National Marriage Equality, but I’m prepared to continue fighting for my rights if they rule in favor of the laws against my marriage. Either way they rule, I expect to see social media blowing up with status updates, memes, and news articles about this subject. I feel as though the time for debate on this subject has come and gone. Ultimately, people in my circle of friends know that I am gay and married to a wonderful man. People associated with me who oppose Marriage Equality are already aware that it is important to me and understand my stance on the matter. As I mentioned, this is an issue I’ve been fighting in support of for over a decade. I have reached a point that I don’t feel I hold anymore sway through debate with the people in my life who are still against equality.
The argument for Traditional Marriage makes me feel like my family is not deserving or is less than or second class. I can no longer associate with people who oppose Marriage Equality. I just want to get this out there ahead of the SCOTUS ruling so there is no doubt on my rigid stance. Whether before or after the ruling, if I see a friend of mine post anything online opposing Marriage Equality, including unfavorable comments on someone else’s post, I will end my relationship with that person. I realize that I have people in my family who still oppose Marriage Equality, and they are not exempt from my decision either.
I understand that some of these people I have mutual friends or common family members with. I don’t have a desire to avoid functions where these individuals may be in attendance, but I have no intention to engage with them whatsoever. However, I understand that a sincere change of heart on opposition to Marriage Equality is possible. Should one of these people feel a desire to reconnect with me, they need only reach out and open a new dialogue.
I have been thinking a lot about this lately and have mulled this blog post over in my head for a few months now. I have reached a point in my life where it’s important to surround myself with people who influence me in a positive way and enrich my life. My husband Cameron is someone who has influenced my life for the better in more ways than I am capable of describing. There is no more room in my life for anyone who seeks to prevent us from having equal rights and fair treatment under the law through Marriage Equality.