#LoveWins: Love is more than just a word.

People should be careful with their language. Words have power, and meaning transcends what is written. When religious conservatives write their reaction posts on social media, do they mean “I do not support same-sex marriage –in the context of my religion” or “I do not support same-sex marriage –on the level of the secular state”? Because those two things are not the same, and they align very differently with the statement that usually follows: “But I still love gay people, I even have gay friends.”

xxx

As someone with a vested interest in seeing the goals of the LBTQIA community met (x), I was ecstatic when I heard that the whole of North America allows same-sex marriage as of the last weekend.

But before I say anything else, I’d like to say three things:

  1. For the LGBTQIA* community and allies: Same-sex marriage is not the end goal; it’s only one milestone out of many. While worthy of celebration, we shouldn’t allow the media to herald this as the ultimate victory for the community. (It’s still not allowed in majority of countries.) Issues on education, health, perception and intersectional discrimination persist and should still be addressed on the social and state level.
  2. For the religious, conservative, liberal or moderate: Accept that the affairs of religion are distinct from the affairs of the secular state. The freedom granted to the queer citizens of the state (1) does not infringe on the rights of the religious to marry and (2) does not force religion to redefine its own standards, practices and traditions regarding marriage. Your religion is yours to keep. The education of, influence onto and response of your religion’s followers is also your religion’s burden to regulate and safeguard, and not the state’s.
  3. And for everyone: be happy, remain in love. I’ve seen so many pictures of newly-wed same-sex couples, and it honestly inspires so much hope and strength in me. To think that this could have easily been delayed or denied, with such a narrow split decision; to think of all those who died before this decision passed, and all those who are alive now to enjoy it. This is hard won and easily lost. Let’s appreciate it and grasp it with both hands.

The only thing left that I want to say focuses on the reactions of a lot of Filipino Christians on Facebook (though I assume the sentiment is carried by other nationalities across other networks).

Many people conflate the idea of religious marriage and state marriage with one another. It seems that people have forgotten a basic school lesson or are simply completely unaware of how the world works, because the separation of the Church and the State should have made it clear from the very start. In the same way Catholics have no control over how Muslims should marry, they too should have no say in the way the non-religious should marry. Similarly as well, the practices of a religion are never imposed on the state as a whole, e.g. people are not forced to fast simply because an existing religion calls for it, and food banned according to some sects can still be accessed by others. It’s a matter of jurisdiction and extent of power, and in this instance the Church and the State do not necessarily overlap.

But more importantly: I find a problem with religious people who cite dogma in defense of their bigotry, homophobia and oppression of others (which is questionable evidence in itself) yet at the same breath say that they will continue to love and support their queer friends. This is where people conflate the idea of tolerance with love.

People should be careful with their language. Words have power, and meaning transcends what is written. When religious conservatives write their reaction posts on social media, do they mean “I do not support same-sex marriage –in the context of my religion” or “I do not support same-sex marriage –on the level of the secular state”? Because those two things are not the same, and they align very differently with the statement that usually follows: “But I still love gay people, I even have gay friends.”

I won’t argue with people who believe firmly in the former. Regardless of whether or not they successfully take their arguments from the Bible, who am I to argue with more than a millenium of tradition, with codes and norms dictated by the Vatican? With a Pope that discusses tolerance but not actual change? With a belief that is rooted in years of prayer, study and worship? I’m just an irreligious somewhat Catholic. I won’t (and realistically can’t) force people to truly, honestly believe in the “normalcy” of homosexuality, that God did create Adam and Steve as well. I can pick my battles, and I know a loss when I see one.

At this point, the only path through change seems like increased religious liberalization, sex+gender education and generational shift in ideas. These probably won’t happen any time soon. As I read somewhere before, conservative values are still values. They don’t have to change.

But people who believe in the latter and will oppose same-sex marriage as a secular freedom are people I will fight, no matter how tiring it will probably be. Because again, it’s a matter of compartmentalization of interests. Not everything is about religion; sometimes it’s really just about equality and human rights.

I could try giving them the benefit of the doubt, but in this day and age, information and self-criticism are not rare commodities. Maybe people simply don’t recognize the dissonance present in the words they are saying. Maybe people can’t take the heat of being openly bigoted, and would rather hide behind a veil of kind (but ultimately weak) words of love and friendship. Maybe, maybe. Maybe they should think before they speak up.

Though to be quite honest I’m only writing this to better articulate what I meant in a Facebook post (x) which was also a reaction to a post made by someone else (x) —

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But the moral of the story, I suppose, is simple.

Be honest. Be kind. Love others as you love yourself.

xxx

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