Opinion

Federal Way's rainbow connection | Amy Johnson

I recently had the privilege of walking in the Seattle Pride Parade with Churches for Marriage Equality.

Imagine a Federal Way progressive, marching down 4th Avenue in Seattle, surrounded by thousands of grateful people cheering for equality, blowing kisses our way and even coming out in the street to share a fist bump or two.

Ahhh, heaven for a rainbow lover like me.

Meanwhile, over at The Daily Beast, Anderson Cooper quietly confirmed what many had understood for a long time. What an incredible professional he is. Oh, and by the way, he happens to be gay.

For all this celebration and civility, violence still mars the call for freedom and equality. Nationally, videos go viral with pastors proclaiming the sanctity of abusing male children who are effeminate, and advocating locking up gay people until they become extinct.

In Texas, a lesbian couple was found shot in a park. In California, a transgender woman was murdered in Oakland on a spring weekend when I happened to be in the area.

Here in Federal Way, a fight breaks out at a “welcome back” dance because two young men chose to attend together as partners.

Locally, our high schools have GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) clubs, some more filled with allies than LGBT students, because it’s still hard to be openly gay, especially in Federal Way.

Middle school and high school students participate in increasing numbers in the Day of Silence in solidarity with LGBT folks who fear being vocal about their identities. But local educators still question when it’s OK to let students say “That’s so gay.”

In Washington, a small group of people worried about preserving marriage got enough signatures to put marriage equality on the ballot as a referendum after it was passed by our Legislature this winter.

Meanwhile, several church denominations marched in the Pride Parade, and some, like the United Methodists, Catholics for Equality, Union for Reform Judaism, and several United Churches of Christ and Unitarian Universalist Churches, are coalition partners with Washington United for Marriage.

Apparently, we have different opinions about what freedom means, so I ask you:

Do laws that discriminate trump civil rights for all?

Are we letting sound bites and small minds drown out facts regarding the history of religious marriage?

How do we call people to use their freedoms of religion and speech to demand a higher version of justice, inclusion, and equality instead of a society based on hate and degradation?

Let’s not forget, in the beloved, oft-quoted Bible, marriage involves numerous instances of unions that do not support so-called “traditional” values, such as marrying a dead brother’s widow, concubines, rapists and victims, women as spoils of war, and men with more than one wife.

We’re a conflicted people, here in the U.S. and right here in Federal Way — perhaps more than even during the Civil War, according to former President Jimmy Carter.

In these times of economic distress, of war and poverty and unemployment, we have much about which to disagree. However, it is ridiculous to fight over whether two people who love each other should be allowed to make that commitment publicly, legally, and within their faith community.

Marriage equality is something we should be celebrating, nurturing and supporting. It is a good thing to encourage values like commitment, perseverance, love, family, and togetherness.

If you disagree, well, it’s a free country. Feel free to fight amongst yourselves.  Just don’t be fooled into sugar-coating intolerance and fear as righteousness.

Meanwhile, I’ll be amongst you, continuing to build the rainbow connection — the lovers, the dreamers and me.

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