Last week the Maryland House of Delegates voted to approve a same-sex marriage bill and sent it to the State Senate for final passage. On Sunday we wrote an editorial calling for the legislature to move quickly to send the measure to voters this November and bypass the requirement for petitioners to force it on the ballot. After his appearance on WBAL to discuss the legislation, we invited Rev. Joseph Lynn Kitchen Jr., Executive Vice-President of the Young Democrats of Maryland, to submit a guest Op-ed.
Advancing marriage equality in Maryland will take lots of personal evolutionBy: Rev. Joseph Lynn Kitchen Jr. – Executive Vice President, Young Democrats of Maryland (Twitter:@josephlkitchen)
I know I am dealing in dangerous space by accepting the offer to write a guest op-ed here on this blog. For months now many people have accused me of being the author and publisher of this site, but on this issue I am honored to accept the invite.
In 2008 I voted for Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in my native state of California. In 2012, should it come before voters, I will vote against repealing the marriage equality legislation that just passed the House of Delegates. What led to my evolution on this issue? My own personal experience with my family.
As a kid my brother who is just eleven months younger than I am became suicidal. For months he would go through long bouts of depression that resulted in attempts on his life with cutting and one night trying to hang himself in a closet. My family believed it was a phase he was going through and something to be kept internal, on the inside…family business. We were wrong. He was gay and the traditions of shame and dishonor had taken their toll on him. It wasn’t until we realized that he was a member of our family and we loved him unconditionally that he got better and the strength of our family improved.
In 2008 I forgot that experience. I became distracted by the disagreements I had with the marriage equality advocates to overshadow my better judgment. As a voter I resented their failure to engage me on the issue. As an African-American I rejected their charges of bigotry. As a Christian I refused to accept their characterizing of my faith as hate. Once we get beyond all those names and look at this issue for what it is, love and strong relationships, everything else just seems so small.
Last week in Maryland marriage equality advocates made that argument in Annapolis and they won. Gay marriage is not about an attack on religion or even our personal religion; it is about love, strong families and strong communities. When advocates make that argument they win every time.
As a young man who grew up in a very conservative, black, Baptist church, my personal feeling on the issue has not changed. My faith teaches that homosexuality is a sin. That is why I support this legislation and the built in religious protections it provides for churches like mine. To that end my faith is my personal walk with God not my right to by force put on the people of the Maryland. Over the next few months, should this issue make it to the ballot, it will be conversations like this, in communities like mine in Prince George’s County that must happen if we truly want to move our people forward.