Monday, December 27, 2010

How Do Your Parents Feel?

    So I was sitting in the local Starbucks today reading Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville (excellent book I might add) when a elderly lady sat down on the bench next to me and struck up a conversation. Pretty soon, after about a half of an hr talking, she noticed that I had a wedding ring on and asked whether or not I was married, I of course answered affirmatively - since the Canadian government DID legalize same-sex marriage back in 2005 contrary to what some people in Ontario think (long story about that comment) - and she then proceeded to ask me where "she" was. Me, not being ashamed that I am married to a man, answered that he was at work at the moment. She was rather taken aback by this revelation and asked me how I could do that to my parents. I answered that it really doesn't matter what my parents thought about the subject and that I was gay, so of course I would not marry a woman. That part of the conversation ended, though we did continue talking for about another hour.

    This concept though was rather troubling to me, and one that I thought I would discuss on here, for I notice that many people in the gay community are asked very similar questions. How do your parents feel about that? Did you ever think how this would impact them? etc. To be quite blunt, the answer is actually very simple. We are adults and it really does not matter at all what they think. Yes they are our parents and we should "respect" them in their positions in our lives, but no longer are they an authority over us. We are our own responsibilities, and as such we need to act like it.

     Though I do value my parents and enjoy their company (they are in fact coming to Toronto for a visit in two days), I no longer view their feelings as binding upon my own. I will do many things that hurt my parents, and they will make choices that hurt me, but does that mean that they are doing such things to directly hurt me or that I am doing things to directly hurt them? Not at all, we are just living our lives making the choices that we view are the best ones for us. We can take advice, we can engage in debate on the subject, yet in the end we must live with the consequences of our own actions.

    Now it must be said that our actions do have consequences for other people. For example, yes my decision to marry my husband does have a consequence for my parents. They had to decide to welcome him into the family or reject him. Thankfully they have opted for the former, but there are many people in the world whose family has opted for the latter. But our actions should not be based upon the reactions that we might receive from others. For too long I was one who desired the approval and acceptance of the people around me. After I became so emotionally exhausted by doing that, I just said to myself, "You know, am I living the life that I am supposed to live, or am I living the life that others want me to live?" By letting our lives be a direct response to how others may feel about things, we have eliminated the person within us. Instead of having our own spirit, our own likes and dislikes, we become enslaved to the priorities of others.

    So to Mary Jane - the woman at Starbucks - no I do not care what my parents think. For if I did, then I would not be my own adult, I would show my incapability to make my own decisions, and I would once again be starving for the approval of others. That is not emotionally healthy view of life, and instead  it leads many people to unfulfilled and unproductive lives.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Religion and Equality Butt Head Again In Australia

Once again, there is a conflict between religious organizations and equality rights (in the form of non-discrimination laws) in Australia. The question today is whether a religious organization that receives government funding is allowed to openly discriminate against a homosexual couple because of the organizations religious beliefs. The Herald Sun has the details...

Church groups are free to discriminate against homosexuals after a landmark judgment in which a tribunal ruled religious charities are allowed to ban gay foster parents.
The ruling, made in the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal, has been hailed by the Catholic Church but has outraged civil libertarians, who are demanding religions no longer be exempt from anti-discrimination laws if they receive public money, reported The Daily Telegraph.
The Council of Civil Liberties suggested more children might end up in orphanages because church-based service providers could now knock back couples who did not conform to their beliefs.
Even the tribunal itself, whose judgment came down in favour of the ban, said it was effectively bound to reach the decision because of the very broad exemptions in the Anti-Discrimination Act relating to religious groups.
The decision marks the end of a seven-year legal battle for a gay couple who attempted to become foster carers through Wesley Mission Australia but were knocked back because their lifestyle was not in keeping with the beliefs and values of Wesleyanism, a Methodist order of the Uniting Church.And, it went as far as suggesting that Parliament may wish to revise those laws.
The ADT initially awarded the couple $10,000 and ordered the charity to change its practices so it did not discriminate but an appeals panel set aside that decision and ordered the tribunal to reconsider the matter.
The tribunal then said it had little choice but to find that the discrimination was "in conformity" with the church's doctrine because the test in the law "is singularly undemanding".

Council of Civil Liberties president Cameron Murphy said churches who received taxpayers money to provide services for the state -as was increasingly the case -should no longer be exempt from discrimination laws.
"It's outrageous," he said. "If a non-religious organisation tried to do this they would be in breach of the law.
"If they want to run a foster care agency they ought to be looking after the best interests of the child, not trying to push their religion on the community.
     Many times, we as the gay community are called out by the religious community as people who are demanding "special rights". Though there is much dispute over this accusation by the religious communities, they cannot make any claim that that is bad, since they themselves are granted "special rights" under the guise of religious freedom to bypass the law.

      I take issue with the concept that a government funded organization is able to discriminate against a significant portion of the population. By doing so, even when there are anti-discrimination laws, government is putting its stamp of approval upon discrimination.
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