Emily, bluntWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
When President Barack Obama announced on May 10 that he supports gay marriage, the faces of a number of friends flashed through my mind. I know several couples who have built lives together for decades, and while I sadly doubt any of us will live to see gay marriage become an American reality, a presidential endorsement is a step in that direction.
But the face that lingered in my thoughts belongs to Emily Hickey. Emily is a columnist for our weekly arts publication, Toledo Free Press Star. She recently contributed a column, “Putting a face on same-sex marriage,” a brave statement that put humanity before labels. I contacted Emily and asked her to update the column for the May 13 Toledo Free Press. In the context of Obama’s announcement and recent Toledo stories concerning domestic partner rights and the naming of a Downtown intersection after Joe Wicks, the late owner of Caesars Show Bar, Emily’s column carried great resonance.
There was no question Emily’s moving and inspirational writing would have an impact, and I knew with absolute certainty that some of that impact would splash back from people who disagree with Emily’s stance.
Receiving that opposition is not only fine; it is the point.
During the weekend the column was published, my family attended the Celebration of First Eucharist for my wife’s godson, Ben. Resurrection Parish in Canton, Mich., was full of happy families celebrating their children’s First Communion. One of the planned hymns was number 700, but the hymnal in my hands opened to 706, “Never The Blade Shall Rise.” The title caught my attention, as did Verse 2: “The one who loves the worldly life loses the life so lived, while the one who hates the life in this world preserves it to life eternal.”
I interpreted this to mean that those who wallow in an earthly life of material needs and control will sacrifice their opportunity for eternity, while those who recognize, eschew (and, I imagine, vocally protest) such temporary pursuits increase their chances at life everlasting.
Checking my email messages after the service, I waded through the first wave of reader feedback to Emily’s column. While many people recognized Emily’s bravery, some were less supportive. A few demanded delivery be stopped, as if ignoring Toledo Free Press is somehow going to make the gay marriage debate go away. Some described Emily’s thoughts as “simplistic” and “naïve.” Some used words they would never say to her face.
Among the comments was this letter:
As a person that lived with a family member that was gay I understand firsthand some of the struggles you are trying to work out. My brother that passed away last year came out some 33 years ago. Still this day I ask myself why? Why did he have to proclaim to the world, to my dying grandmother, to everyone that would listen that he was GAY? Our sexuality seems like such a private matter yet for some reason he and many like him want to proclaim it from the mountain tops.
I have never told one person in this world if I am gay or straight. I am married and have three children and so by that act you might assume I am straight. Yet many people live like I am living only for us to years later have them tell us from the mountain tops that they lived a lie and are really GAY!!!!
The point in all this is WE DON’T CARE. If you didn’t keep shoving it down our throats maybe we wouldn’t be so opposed to what you do in private.
In your article you state it’s not a religious thing and if that is true than why get married in the first place? Marriage in an institution that was set up in the Bible from the beginning of time and set up for a man and a woman. We have lessened that institution over the years through the divorce and multiple marriages but it’s still God’s plan for procreation. So if God set it up why not follow his rules in how it’s implemented instead our your own. There are a number of ways without marriage to show your unfailing love to your partner and not trample on something that was set up for procreation and for a life time.
Thanks for listening to another side of the debate and I wish you well in the years to come.
— Jim Moline
Later in the weekend, our family visited the Toledo Zoo. It was our first time there without a stroller, but our boys covered a lot of ground and bounced from exhibit to exhibit like silver orbs in a pinball machine. One of their favorite places is The Crawlspace (A World of Bugs) in Nature’s Neighborhood. The boys climbed spider webs and bee hives, planted seeds and tried to get the attention of the birds. Then we watched the ants. The Crawlspace has an amazing exhibit in which leafcutter ants chop down pieces of leaves and carry them through a transparent tube running the entire length of the building, climbing uphill, walking downhill, never losing focus, never dropping their burdens. The organization and cooperation is amazing; the entire society of ants gets its work done with efficiency well beyond the reach of human beings.
Checking my messages during a break in walking and exploring, I read another wave of reader feedback.
Among the comments was this letter:
As I was sitting at dinner with my daughter this evening I read your article. You sound like a very brave and confident woman to put yourself out there like that. As I read your article, however, I felt compelled to tell you that you want what you cannot have. Marriage of two women or two men is not marriage. It’s gay marriage. You are expecting everyone to sympathize with you. You are expecting other people to abandon THEIR beliefs and principles so you can do what you wish.
And you have very much support in our country today. You have a mayor who approves same-sex benefits, you have a President and Vice-president who endorse gay marriage, you have a press that embraces gays, and demonizes anyone who opposes gay rights. Indeed, people like me have to fear being labeled a “bigot” or as an employee of University of Toledo was, fired from my job for expressing my views against homosexuality, on my own time and in my own words. Indeed my colleagues (both gay and not gay) would hate ME for my views, even though I respect and like some of them — I just don’t agree with being gay.
They would label me “old-fashioned,” “out of it,” “intolerant,” “judgmental.” Nonetheless, I am who I am, just as you say you are who you are. You also have many, many major universities, companies, and celebrities who sympathize with, support, and FIGHT for gays.
Yet, you still are not satisfied. You still want marriage. You still want children. You still want the American dream — on your terms. You want to re-define marriage because of YOUR SEXUALITY. You want to procreate with science or adoption, with little regard to how this will affect a child being raised by lesbians and no dad–a dad is irreplaceable, just as a mom is and any child growing up without one of the other suffers for it, no matter the circumstances. Yet……. You, you, you.
One thing you need to understand is that there is something instinctively repulsive to some people about homosexuality. I was “born this way.” Within me is the natural repulsion of having sex with another woman or to think of men having sex with men. There it is, Emily. Like it or not. Call it “bigotry” if that makes you feel better, but it is the truth. People opposed to your lesbianism are equally entitled to our “feelings,” just as child abuse, porno, cruelty to animals, is instinctively repulsive, so is same-sex. Rant and rave, whine and cry, demand and fight, but you cannot change me anymore than I can change you.
This does not mean I hate you. I do not even know you. The gay community cannot keep hiding behind the words of hate, homophobic, and bigot when someone finds their acts repulsive. Is there nothing which repulses you and would you want someone convincing you otherwise that you should accept it? Would you like being called “intolerant” or “bigot” if you didn’t accept, for instance, slavery?
The gays may “win” the battle of gay marriage. But it will still be “gay” marriage. As I mentioned above, you have tremendous support, but you still are not “at peace.” Good God, do you hear what you are saying? You want a “wife?” Holy sh–, you are a woman. It is completely f— up to say you want a wife. I DON’T CARE HOW TRENDY IT IS NOW TO BE GAY. It is out of complete honesty and concern I tell you that — and as roughly as I have (does this offend you? — you are entitled to this right, right?) just as I would push a person out of the way of a bus by which he/she was about to be struck.
I hope your publication and you have enough courage to treat both sides of this issue fairly. It is mundanely predictable that most publications will tow the leftist party line whatever the issue, but this issue will become central in our great country, so a “Free Press” will do well to understand both sides. We that oppose are often, demonized — by who? Those who are supposedly tolerant, peace-loving, and “to each his own.” I truly wish you could experience the American Dream of a husband, children, and family. It is still the fabric of this nation. There will be no equal to it, no matter how much the gay movement pushes gay marriage down our proverbial throats.
And by the way, naming a street after Joe Wicks, is just more of the same — kowtowing to the gay community because of politically correct guilt.
— Maria Twosley
Driving back home through Tecumseh, we stopped at a red light and saw a recently installed statue of Gandhi. Five-year-old Evan asked who it was, so we told him he was a man who believed in peace and rejected violence.
“Is he alive?” Evan asked.
“No, he was shot and killed,” I said.
Evan was silent, then asked, “Like Martin Luther King?”
“Yes,” I said. “And like John Lennon, the guy who sings with The Beatles songs we play.”
“And Jesus?” he asked.
“Jesus wasn’t shot, but yes, he lived for peace and was killed by people who feared him,” I said.
Evan said nothing, but I know his mind was trying to work through these incongruent facts.
At home, I checked my messages one more time.
Among the comments was this letter:
I read your same sex “marriage” article with interest. Marriage is not in the cards for you and neither is having your own child, without the aid of a man. I am sure your parents did a fine job of raising you but I believe your parents are made up of one man and one woman and until science comes up with a way for two females or two males to conceive a child it will always be that way no matter how badly you want it otherwise. I deny you no rights nor do I consider you a second-class citizen, however, I also will fight so that this country maintains that a marriage is always between one man and one woman. If you need that piece of paper or that blessing to be happy on your chosen path then it is you who needs to get your priorities straight (pardon the pun), instead of trying to make the rest of us adhere to and accept your way of life.
Thank you for reading my opinion. I wish you nothing but the best.
— Janet Cope
As humans in general and Americans in particular, we are not capable of emulating Jesus 100 percent. Nor are we ants, marching in straight lines, thoughtlessly serving and laboring. Most of us certainly do not devote our lives to any one position strongly enough to find ourselves dying for it.
The questions are many. The answers are few. But somewhere in the middle between gods and ants, between martyrs and saints, between soaring free and marching in escape-proof tubes, we manage to all live together.
We haven’t managed to find ways to all love together, not yet. But somewhere between Heaven and the ant tunnels underground, there are people like Emily, Jim, Maria, Janet and me, trying to figure it all out.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Email him at email@example.com.