By James Birrell
Today I performed the most beautiful and moving wedding for two wonderful and beautiful women who now are legally married spouses in Utah. In 2004, when Utahns passed Amendment 3, further ensuring against gay marriage, I voted for that law. Like many of you, I have had a change of heart. I have come to see the issue differently. I would not vote for such an awful and hateful law today.
The final verdict has not been declared, in the matter of gay marriage in Utah and nationally, with respect to the ruling of the Supreme Court–a ruling quite possibly expedited by Amendment 3. If the Supreme Court does not uphold Amendment 3 in Utah–which I fully expect, similar laws will drop like dominoes across the nation. That is my hope.
To be fair, many people against gay marriage have their reasoned arguments. I have heard them, I have made them, and I have published them back when I was in that mindset and worldview. I respect that reasonable and moral people can disagree on anything and everything; I expect them to. The diversity of thought inherent in humanity, and the nature of paradox as a universal law demands it, in order to keep humans from cruelly oppressing one another, as humans too often have, and want to continue to do–as in the present attempts in Utah to use sophistry in TV commercials about fairness to justify something as unfair as failing to assure our LGBT brothers and sisters that they will not be fired or denied housing in Utah SIMPLY because they are gay.
Utah should be ashamed of this. I hope there is a rising-up of decent people–which this state is full of–to tell their state legislators to stop protecting special interest powers and pass laws that protect innocent people from those who would deny them jobs and housing, for no reason other than fear or prejudice. There is enough law in place now to fire or remove a person from a property for moral reasons. Failing to pass anti-discrimination laws to protect the powers that be from gay people is wrong! And that karma will be a bitch for Utah, too! I hope you see through those commercials; they are full of sophistry and hypocrisy. Sutherland and others should be ashamed to call themselves after the Christ.
Whatever you think of gay marriage, you cannot possibly believe firing or refusing housing to someone because they are gay is right. If you do, search your heart! And while I understand that resistance to this law has a lot to do with protecting Mormon business interests, especially in Provo, all that can be worked out.
As for churches, if you think marriage is designed by God for only a man and a woman, for purposes of creation, then only marry people in your church buildings who match your criteria, but do not act to deny those rights to others just because you think it wrong. That is imposing your religious views on others, and you hate when others do that to you! Remember the golden rule, including karma!
As for today, I will never forget the love present, or the joy, or the feelings of watching a woman weep and speak of her joy that she can marry the love of her life, this day–something, she said, she never thought possible. I wish you could have seen it and felt it. Their marriage will only strengthen marriage in Utah. If you cannot see that, or even if you disagree, that does not mean I am wrong.
To Sharlee and Bonnie, I was your ally before your marriage, and I remain an ally for your marriage after the fact. I remain committed to fighting for the rights of LGBT people to legally marry, while at the same time protecting the rights of churches to have their own sacraments without government intrusion. That is a win-win. That is a better America. The rest will be worked out in time.
Thank you for today. There are moments in life that change you, challenge you, and give you a charge; today was such a moment. What I experienced today cannot be described, and neither will it be stopped–because it is not just a right, it is right! We finally have a nation diverse enough to understand that.
Now let all sides of this issue lay down their swords and turn them into plow shares for tilling-up fertile new ground for growing greater compassion and love for all, and for strengthening ALL families in America, regardless of any “ideal”. The “ideal” has nothing to do with the gender of the people alone–if even, ultimately, at all, but with the quality of love and experience people bring to the family. In that regard, heterosexuals have no great record to boast of, and no better record than two loving women or men, equally committed to and creative about raising children.
I won’t be silent! If good people don’t speak up, the powers who want the status quo will continue to marginalize God’s gay babies! That cannot and will not happen. The nation is mature enough now to deal with this. It won’t be stopped! We have to grow, and that will be hard for some people–like after the 1964 and ’65 Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts.
Young people today could never imagine denying Blacks those rights, or anyone else. In the future, people will read of our times in history books and wonder how we denied gays this right for so long. It was like slavery; it just takes time to get the nation ready, or blacks and the priesthood, as we were recently told by Church leaders–regarding reasons why Blacks were denied the priesthood (the members were not ready, as one explanation theorized). It is all in perfect, divine order! But that is just my view!
I am an ally for LGBT people. I ask forgiveness of LGBT people for voting for Amendment 3 back in 2004. I didn’t know another way. Thank God I do now!
Dr. James Birrell is a retired professor at BYU and presently an adjunct professor at UVU and teaches Multicultural Studies. He has stated that the greatest blessing in his life is having a gay son.