There I was, agnostic Jewish me, eager as a teen music fan to meet an Episcopal bishop at Town Hall Seattle on Monday night, to shake his hand and thank him for his courage.
Then Hurricane Sandy intervened. The bishop’s flight was canceled, so I went home and read his new book, God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage.
Which is how come I can now tell you that if you can read this book and not fall in love with Bishop Gene Robinson, head of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, then there is something seriously amiss with the state of your soul, let alone your heart and your mind.
Robinson was married – to a woman – for 15 years. Now he’s married again – to a man. This second marriage has lasted 25 years, and has led to multiple death threats against him, forcing him at times to wear a bullet-proof vest in public. It’s also created an absurd rift within the Episcopal church. And it’s brought out the big guns in his support. There are only two blurbs on the back of this beautifully lucid book, but both are from Nobel Peace Laureates: one from a guy called Obama, and the other from a guy called Tutu.
Robinson directly addresses ten FAQs on marriage equality, among them: “Why should you care about gay marriage if you’re straight?”
His answer, and mine: “It’s the civil rights issue of our time.” Why did white activists put themselves in the line of fire in the 1960s? They weren’t black; they could always have claimed that it wasn’t “their” battle. Except of course it was. As Emma Lazarus put it – she of “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free” – “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”
Besides, if you think gay rights don’t affect your straight life, you’re living in as alternative a universe as Mitt Romney. As Robinson points out, “Orthodox Jews, conservative Muslims, and fundamentalist Christians are just as likely to raise a gay son or daughter as any other mother or father.”
Think about that: Wherever you are as you read this, and no matter what you think about same-sex marriage, chances are that at least one person close to you – someone you know and love and wish everything good for — is gay. So what do you wish for that person if you call the love they feel for someone else an abomination? The only abomination involved here is in calling love an abomination.
Still think “This isn’t my fight” because you’re not gay? Robinson has this to say:
No it isn’t. Unless you care about the kind of society we have. Unless you want the society of which you are a part to be a just one. Unless you believe that a free society, not to mention a godly religion, should fight injustice wherever it is found… Unless you care about our children. Unless fairness matters to you. Unless violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people concerns you. Unless ‘liberty and justice for all’ is something you believe applies to all citizens.
Are you in love with him yet?