Last fall prior to the elections Grandma and I spent a lot of time commenting on the onslaught of political ads on TV. Since she can barely hear she would mostly comment on the looks of the candidates.
“He’s got a dishonest look about ‘im!”
Or, my favorite, whenever Mitt Romney was on TV:
“Mmmmmmeeeeitt” she’d say, drawing it out “….Who names their child Mitt?”
When the commercial was related to an issue rather than a candidate I’d often have to explain what the ad was about. Washington State had a marriage equality measure on the ballot last fall, so there were a lot of ads both for and against. Without fail, Grandma would comment:
“I don’t think we should allow ’em to marry”
I’m pretty liberal (very liberal on social issues). I have a lot of gay friends and co-workers, many of whom have been in committed, long-term relationships that put a lot of hetero relationships to shame.
So…when Grandma said that she didn’t think same-sex couples should be allowed to marry I was quick to respond: “Not all marriages are done in churches, Grandma, so why should churches have all the say about who gets married?”
In our society marriage is a legal construct. The fact that many marriages take place in churches does not mean that marriage is “owned” by religion. Quite the contrary. Marriages take place every day in this country in places other than churches.
Since the act of marriage provides certain legal rights to the two people who’ve chosen to commit to each other and many (if not most) marriages are done outside of a religious setting why would we allow people to challenge those rights on religious grounds? If your religious beliefs say that gays shouldn’t be married then perhaps you shouldn’t marry gays. What you shouldn’t be allowed to do is keep gays from marrying each other. This is what is meant, in part, by the separation of church and state. Seems pretty straightforward to me.
Since the election the subject of same-sex marriage hasn’t come up as frequently. The recent Supreme Court hearings have been in the news, though, and Grandma took notice. Despite her poor hearing she overheard an interview that ended with “I just don’t think gays should be allowed to marry”.
She snapped back immediately: “Why shouldn’t we let ’em? Who does it hurt?”
Stunned, I asked her what had brought about the change in heart.
“I’ve been thinkin’… ” was all she said.
Which gets me thinkin’…
Grandma was able to look beyond her long-held prejudices and see that allowing all people to have the same legal rights that you enjoy does not diminish your rights or threaten your religion, but is simply the right thing to do. Rights are rights no matter your color or sexual orientation. At 101 years old she’s still evolving. She’s thinking about issues in new ways.
I am beyond proud of her for mulling it over. Her willingness to challenge her own beliefs is remarkable to me. I’m proud but not particularly surprised. Grandma was 9 years old before women were legally able to vote in this country. She was in her 50’s during the civil rights movement. She’s been witness to a lot of societal change so it stands to reason that she’d change a bit herself.
The other day there was a news story about marijuana legalization and I was thinking about asking Grandma what she thought about it. Before I could ask she blurted out:
“What’s that? DOPE!?!?”
On second thought, I’d better not push my luck with Grandma’s evolution.