NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.Of course, conservative Americans won't "turn back discrimination and prejudice". In fact, they'd probably like to turn back the clock to a time when the LGBT community was harassed and beaten for their sexual orientation. In fact, Montana is already doing their best to remain as backwards and discriminatory as possible.
First of all, I guess I should say that I support marriage equality, same-sex adoption, the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and just about every other measure that guarantees equality in this country of ours. Isn't that what freedom is? I'm fully aware of what the opposition says and, having read the entire Bible, I fully understand what it says about homosexuality. As I said earlier this month, the Quakers have been pretty open and tolerant of homosexuals. Even back in 1992--six years before Matthew Shepard was tortured to death and seventeen years before the Matthew Shepard Act was signed by President Obama--some Friends were already opening their doors equally to all people.
Each individual's journey through life is unique. Some will make this journey alone, others in loving relationships - maybe in marriage or other forms of commitment. We need to ponder our own choices and try to understand the choices of others. Love has many shapes and colors and is not finite. It cannot be measured or defined in terms of sexual orientation.
In Quaker practice we believe that we all are equally called to ministry, through our worship, our daily lives, our service to others and in the activities and celebrations of our meeting. Lesbian and gay Friends have played and will continue to play a significant part in Quaker life, thought and ministry both locally and nationally. Particular gifts are brought to our religious life from the struggle of gay and lesbian Friends, in the face of oppression, to find and express their faith. We need the spiritual gifts which are unique to each individual's personality and experience. We give thanks for all our gifts and service.
We are now called to welcome publicly and explicitly the participation and service of lesbian and gay Friends; to help one another develop loving and equal adult relationships and friendships; to explore ways in which we can, through worship and cherishing, mark the joys and sorrows of one another's relationships and life circumstances; to seek formal ways of recognizing a variety of commitments, including gay and lesbian partnerships. (Emphasis mine)
It's almost too level-headed to grasp, isn't it? And while not all Friends are as open to such relationships, the British Yearly Meeting (which is like the top-dog of Meetings) officially sanctioned
gay marriage equality which will eventually trickle down to the lower Yearly, Quarterly, Monthly and Weekly Meetings. I wish I could say what my Weekly Meeting thought about this, but I have yet to broach the subject as I have so many things to learn and observe. Besides, I've only been to two Meetings and the second one was the first time I got to participate in the post-worship discussion and sharing. I wasn't sure how a "What about gay marriage?" question would go-over right off the bat.
I want to take a moment and think about this line though:
We need to ponder our own choices and try to understand the choices of others.
Man, I really commend Australian Friends for being so honest with themselves. Honesty is one of the more difficult things for humans to grasp and while people usually think of it in terms of an outward truth, I think honesty within ourselves is more important. Ham Seok-heon spoke of inward liberation often, but he made sure to separate it from that of what our Buddhist brothers and sisters believe. Liberation from within must start from the same place, but it is not a division or detachment from ourselves like Buddhism teaches. Rather, it's the ability to truly understand why we hold the beliefs we do and only then can be understand what the true light of God is like.
Quakers believe that God and all His goodness dwells within us always. As we get older, that purity gets tarnished by life and as we experience this world, we choose to believe intellectually dishonest things because it is gives us some sort of pleasure or amusement. I hesitate to write about some of the absurd beliefs that I have held in my life because I know that I would embarrass my family, friends and, of course, myself. These past four years in Korea have been very good for me as a person because much of what I knew to be true as a younger man turned out to be wrong. Korea hasn't done that, though. I just had to leave the protective umbrella of my former life and Korea happened to be the venue.
In addition, my time as The Pious One has been more valuable to me than almost any experience I've encountered on this beautiful planet. It's been an incredible journey into my own mind and I recommend that everyone takes the time to really consider your own choices in life. Hold up a mirror to yourself every once and awhile and take a look. You'll be surprised at what shines back at you.