Is this show real enough for you yet? So far we've dealt with such taboo topics as race relations, class, the F.B.I., and healthcare reform/republican bashing. What are we missing on the "things that should not be discussed in public, and DEFINITELY not on national TV list"? This isn't Jerry Springer folks! It's SO much more real than that.
How Do YOU Define Marriage?
In case you missed the show recap, here's the Stacie and Jason Turner definition (without any context):
Marriage: A sacred religious ritual uniting one man and one woman in holy matrimony.
Like many, Jason and I share Christian-based values, nurtured from childhood and treasured by both of our families. I grew up and got married in the Catholic Church, before joining the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) denomination with Jason, who grew up in the AME church. Security in our personal beliefs gives us the strength to share them publically at the risk of rebuke; and allows us to love, honor and respect those who hold different beliefs, while maintaining our own. Statements like "I used to like you" and "Why go there?" now blare on Twitter and blog commentary. I don't believe in "Don't ask, Don't tell". You asked, so I'll tell.
Candor and honesty builds understanding and trust in any forum. That's why I so appreciate and respect Councilmember David Catania for hosting this discussion on civil marriage equality at City Hall. As a representative for ALL DC residents, he set a tone of openness and tolerance for everyone. The vibe he set compelled Jason and I to honestly share a deep personal conflict: reconciling our religious teachings with our support of basic human rights, and doing so on a nationally televised forum. It would've been so much easier/safer to just go with the flow on the spot . . . voicing only our belief in human equality and equal rights under the law for ALL, yet be silent on our religious beliefs about what marriage means to us personally. But that's not the lesson we are striving to teach our children -- which is for them
to be honest, tolerant, critical thinkers who are not afraid to share and learn. Most importantly, it wouldn't have been real.
I check (challenge) MYSELF first.
We believe in everyone’s fundamental right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, as Lolly reminds us on the show. There is a big difference between knowing what you stand for. . . your heart-felt values, and your ability to have real empathy, respect, tolerance, and understanding, even for those whose values may be completely different than yours. As we are all imperfect, this is naturally tough to do. Real talk -- I'm pretty good at the last part; but I'm still learning about, and hard-checking MYSELF: striving to be a better, stronger, and more enlightened person. I'm still alive, so I’m still a work in progress!
Just like Lynda’s family (dare I say most families?) we have gay family members. At age 15,
Jason’s sister confided in me (before anyone else in the family) that she was a lesbian. She knew that we would not judge her; rather love and support her regardless of whatever. Once he knew, I remember Jason telling her that he didn't care who she chose as a partner, gay or straight, as long as they were a positive, loving force in her life. We stand on the same principles today for our own children. And when/if she chooses to get married, Jason will be the same happy and proud big brother (and me the sister) regardless of whom she chooses. My sister in law knows, but doesn't care about our personal definition of marriage, because she feels our total support, respect, and acceptance of her individuality. Love doesn't require agreement; just acceptance. (I'm feeling very Lynda-y right now...that's why I dig her!).
My usually open-minded, seemingly tolerant friend Paul disappointed me greatly in his post-discussion interview. With a suspicious and troubling tone, he seems to conclude that perhaps he "shouldn't be friends" with me if I don't share his personal values. Huh?? Perhaps he prefers the "Don't ask, don’t tell" model of the military. Now I'm sure Paul hates the discriminatory practice of this policy as much as I do; but ironically, his primetime example of “snap” judgment, and overall vibe of intolerance, enflames but does not educate; something the Councilmember warns us against. That vibe seeks to shut down differences, not understand them. Gay or straight, reactions like his are what some of the most conservative members of Congress and Pentagon brass use to stoke fear and stifle needed change. I believe the opposite: that we must bravely engage each other, openly discuss the hard issues, learn, and then accept and/or tolerate our differences. I pick my friends based on how they treat me, not how much they agree with me.
It's ironic that while the Housewives are on TV discussing gay rights and equality with our local officials, this week in real time the Senate has just re-squashed efforts to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" legislation. Essentially, it seems that Congress and the military don't want there to be open, honest dialogue about the rights of ALL soldiers. Gay men and women
who put their lives on the line for their country should not have to defend themselves from their country based on fear and ignorance. Discrimination or lack of equality in ANY area of human rights, and certainly in public service, is just plain WRONG!!
As if in surreal slow motion, I watch as the pot boils over with Cat and Erika. Drama at a kids ice cream social—OMG! Although the time and place was inappropriate, I understood where Erika was coming from. You too have witnessed the brash, impolite, sometimes mean comments that Cat has unleashed. And Erika called it on the carpet. I was most surprised by Cat's reaction -- crumbling, crying and involving her kids. I expected the "tough girl with the quick tongue" to tell Erika to "kiss her a---" and keep it moving. I know Erika as a good friend -- and a very direct person with a kind spirit. She’d just had enough. Most of us have had one of those moments when someone took you “there.”
Lessons learned: 1) If you can dish it -- be prepared to take it and 2) tolerance (once again). While there is no excuse for bad behavior, seek FIRST to understand.
Bottom line: LOVE yourself; have the COURAGE to show respect and tolerance for ALL. On this, can we all agree?