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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



This past Friday Iowa joined a handful of states that will now allow marriage between gay and lesbian couples. All of us probably heard about the court ruling that struck down Iowa’s law against it as unconstitutional either in the media, who spent the entire day hyping the story, or somewhere around the local water fountain.

Some people are probably wondering what it means? What will the allowance of these unions bring to the state? Are we headed down a path that we would rather not be on?

A couple of thoughts from reading through the Supreme Courts decision online. First, although the court didn’t say it was for or against the marriage of gays or lesbians, it did make one thing perfectly clear, that no law can be made which excludes a class of people. Certainly this harkens back to another court battle over 100 years ago in which the court at that time ruled that Jim Crow laws were illegal in Iowa. Regardless of your stance on the position of gay marriage the courts ruling was the right thing to do. We, as Iowans, are generally tolerant people. Accepting of others, and believing that all people are accorded the same rights to freedoms as any one else.

Secondly the court made it also clear, although the news media didn’t pick up on this, that in their ruling they in no way were dictating to the churches on whether or not those marriages would be held in their own church. This of course stems from the constitutional doctrine that government shall make no law in regards to religious freedoms. While I am sure this comes as a big sigh of relief it perhaps will now pit church sects against each other which may provide for some interesting meetings at their state and national conferences, but ultimately Iowa’s ruling leaves it up to the local churches to decide what to do.

So where do I stand? What revelations did this ruling bring in my own life? That’s a great question and if you would have asked me this same question ten years ago I am sure you would have gotten an entirely different answer.

In my younger days I felt they were wrong, that marriage should be reserved for one man and one woman. That the basis of homosexual relationships themselves was wrong, a choice, and a sin. Slowly over the years that changed. Not because I didn’t feel in some way that I had been wrong in the way I thought, but rather because of the experience of those around me.

My step sister moved away, fell in love with a very nice woman and didn’t come home often. She and I would argue from time to time, and because I was so set against her lifestyle it created a rift for years because she felt, and I am sure with good cause, that I was against her. It wasn’t her I was against…but the way she lived her life. How silly and shameful of me to dictate to her how she should live her own life. It’s taken some work, and some tears but ten years of not talking to someone really important in your life makes you stand up and think about things.

Another instance that has softened me has been an old high school classmate now living out of state who sent me an email just prior to our class reunion. He told me in that email about his life, his coming out of the closet to me, so to speak. But also told me of the fear he had coming back and seeing all of his old classmates. What would they think? Would they hate him? I replied that I’m sure it wouldn’t be an issue and that he should come back to see everyone. He took a leap of faith and did…and to a person in our class…not one person ever said anything negative towards him or the lifestyle he lives.

What it comes down to in the end for me, is that I don’t really care what kind of life choices people around me make. Are they hurting themselves of those around them? And in the end are they happy; truly happy? Because in the big picture of life we all have only a small amount of time to learn the lessons of life, to live life and to leave something for the next generation. And in that time, what we all really need to find, what we should find is happiness, in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our work and in our relationships with each other, no matter what orientation they are.

It is not up to me to dictate, nor to force my beliefs on someone else. The accountability in the end is theirs alone and I know deep in my heart that my God is a compassionate and caring God. And in the end what he really wants from all of us is for each of us to find happiness in our own way, to make our own mark, big or small, and at the end of it all to love him and those around us. So yes, I’ve changed, maybe not because what I once thought was wrong, but because what I believe in the end is what’s right for me.

See you next week. Remember, we’re all in this together.