When I was a teenager, I had a good friend who I loved very much and I still do even though we live oceans apart. He was the son of the Bishop of my ward at that time. Both of his parents were LDS members in a large family of 12. At that time, he was dating a good friend of mine for a couple of years. He was the kind of friend that anyone would love: Kind-hearted, sensitive, a good guy.
I am not exactly sure what happened, but all of the sudden he broke up with his girlfriend, stopped coming to Church and move out to another city. After two long years without having any news about him, he showed up at my doorstep unexpectedly. We hugged, he sat down and we started talking about our lives (of course, with a big glass of Coke). This is what I recall of the conversation:
Me: It’s so great to see you! But how come you disappeared like that?
Him: If I tell you, you will be very disappointed”¦
Me: Try me!
Him: I met this guy on my job who I love very much and we are living together as a couple.
Me: Are you happy?
Him: ….I know you may be disappointed but for many years I have struggled with this and I couldn’t live a lie any longer, I just did what I thought (and still think) is right at this moment.
Me: Are you happy?
Him: *paused* YES!
Me: Then come, give me a hug! I LOVE YOU!
We both cried. I always knew he was gay. Don’t ask me how I knew but I just felt it. His family was devastated by the news. He was the oldest child in the family and of course, like in most LDS/Mormon families the expectation was for him to serve a mission that never materialized.
The news broke the hearts of many. When he came out of the closet, friends, family and church members reacted to the news like if he had a brain tumor and 3 months to live but even with a brain tumor, a person gets all the love and support they can possibly get from loved ones but in this case, they stopped calling, they stopped asking for him and family members would invent trips he never made so they didn’t have to tell the truth. It was very hard on EVERYONE.
I witnessed throughout the years how hard he tried, how much he wanted to fit in and be the person everyone expected him to be (including dating girls he was never interested in the first place) but his efforts were futile and he was very unhappy. His family didn’t speak with him for two long years (a mission of its own) but eventually did and even though they never accepted his lifestyle as a gay man living in a committed relationship, they still keep in touch and he visits regularly.
When I say I believe in marriage equality, I am saying I want my old friend (and all my other friends whom I never met) to have the same opportunity than I do to marry. It is only fair. Legally, I cannot understand why we would stop them from doing so (based on our religious convictions) and I also do not understand the reasoning behind gay marriages threatening heterosexual ones (if you have some good reasons please contact me or comment). Homosexuality isn’t contagious.
Perhaps, you believe differently. Perhaps, you believe marriage is between a man and a woman and I respect that. What I would like to see is more understanding and dialogue from both sides.
Supporting marriage equality is possibly the least popular take for an LDS member taking into consideration how the Brethren feel about it. You may call it rebellion, I call it disagreement. I can respect the Church view and I can also respect and agree if they do not wish to marry homosexual couples in the Church.
Having said that, let’s get religion out of the equation with regards to civil rights and the Constitution, shall we? Let’s separate our religious convictions to the actual laws and let each one deal with the topic on their own accord.