My name is Agatha. The priest bestowed this name on me as he traced the cross on my forehead with baptismal water, inviting me to open the door to the spiritual life as a child of God. Catholic.org says that St. Agatha was tortured to martyrdom by a tempter seeking her hand in marriage. I am named after a woman who cut off her breasts to demonstrate her indomitable union with her Maker.
I hear and feel the tensions that charge this pre-election period, in particular those behind the issue of gay-rights. As Agatha who attends church every Sunday, I struggle to endorse same-sex marriage. As Kristy who lives in a modern, secular world, I struggle to affirm my denominational creed that gays and lesbians are innately wrong. Wherever I look, whatever identity I espouse, I face the inherent struggle.
“I struggle with this,” President Obama said in a press conference in 2010 of his personal views on same-sex marriage. I can relate. His views on this matter have been indefinite until he recently endorsed same sex marriage during a historic interview on ABC. But it took him a while to get there.
Historically, he staunchly insisted on civil unions that would confer upon gay couples the same legal rights as any other couple in the country, but saw marriage as a sacred union between a man and a woman and definitely not a civil right. In December of 2010, he repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell so that homosexuals could defend the nation’s security without the added burden of compromising their identity.
He opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, which he said tried to federalize what was historically a state law. Now, he believes that gay and lesbian couples should have equal opportunity to commit to marriage as heterosexuals. Current polls, public reception, and accusations of flip-flopping and vote- winning motives aside: the president has finally gotten to the point.
His struggle has made way for his evolution. Though I do not hold the same views out of respect for my religion, I do believe that anyone with the capacity to love another should have the opportunity to express it in equal ways. Contradiction? Spreading myself too thin across polar opposite beliefs? This issue affects me in intractable ways.
We live in a time when 61% of the voters in North Carolina helped pass an amendment that barred same-sex marriage in their state, but the cover of the May 21 issue of Newsweek portrays Obama with a “gaylo” –a rainbow halo –and calls him “the First Gay President.” Jay-Z recently told CNN, “I’ve always thought it as something that was still holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their business, and you can choose to love whoever you love. That’s their business. It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.”
We must be aware that the issue of same-sex marriage and gay rights affects everyone’s consciousness, whether gay or straight, atheist or Catholic, conservative or liberal. The inevitable personalization of this topic and its impending future in this charged climate are reasons why it is difficult to carry on a fair conversation without immediately resolving to the extremes.
I remain ambivalent and uncertain about this issue, open to struggle and, perhaps, evolution.