What's it Really about?

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With Peterr's post on FDL about gay marriage and my earlier post about yesterday's Busy Day, I went back into my archives to a sermon on "Closets." One reading was taken from the West Wing ( I said on the "About" page, I'll be bringing up stuff now and again from WW. Here is the WW dialogue with the other "reading" after the break.


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West Wing Episode 19
“Let Bartlet be Bartlet”
Aaron Sorkin, writer

Sam is in a conference room with representatives from the military and congress hashing out, yet again, the issue of gays in the military. He is arguing specific cases of service men and women who have been “outed.”

An army Major says:
“A lot of the cases you are talking about of gays being discharged came from voluntary statements”

Sam replies

“They were not voluntary statements. Not by any definition given in any civilian court in this country.

It is not a voluntary statement when it is given to a psychoteherapist as in the case of Marine Corporal David Blessing.

It is not a voluntary statement when its made in a personal diary as in the case of former West Point Cadet Nicole Garrison.



It is not when it is made at VMS as in the case of Master Chief Petty Officer Dianne Kelly,
and it is not voluntary when it is coerced out of a service member through fear through intimidation, through death threats or if used with threats of criminal prosecution as in the case of former Air Force Major Bob Kiddis and former Marine Gunnery Sargeant Kevin Keyes and four sailors aboard the USS Essex.”

Major:
“Sam: you take care of your guys and we’ll take care of ours.”

Sam: “You’re not taking care of your guys, your guys are out looking for jobs.”

Major: “Those weren’t our guys.”

The chairman of the joint chiefs walks in, Admiral Percy Fitzwallace. Introductions are made and then he says”

APF:
“We’re discussing gays in the military, huh?” looks at the Majors, “What do you think?”

Major:
“Sir, we’re her to help the White House form a policy.”

“I know, I’m asking you what you think.”

“Sir, we’re not prejudiced toward homosexuals.”

“You just don’t want to see them serving in the armed forces.”

Major: “No sir, I don’t.”

“’Cause they pose a threat to unit discipline and cohesion.”

“Yes sir.”

“That’s what I think too, I also think the military wasn’t designed to be an instrument of social change. The problem with that is that’s what they were saying about me 50 years ago. Blacks shouldn’t serve with whites, it would disrupt the unit. You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it. The unit changed. I’m an admiral in the US Navy and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Beat that with a stick.”

***

These are some of the words I spoke in August of 2002 at a civil union ceremony I performed in Vermont for two parishioners:

"It has taken many years of challenge and striving for us to be here today. Years of commitment to a relationship and a family, and years for a population of citizens to work their way through a legal system that was not friendly in wanting to provide them with equal rights under the law.

Em and Jan have spent the majority of their twenty or so years together in hiding, afraid to be the authentic people we know them to be. The fears were not trivial—the ability to have a good job and make a living; the ability to raise two lovely daughters; the ability to maintain the love of friends and family. All of these things which so many of us take for granted would have been threatened had they publicly shown their love for one another.

For all of those reasons and more, it is a specially joyous occasion that brings us together to very publicly witness the the dedication and commitment that Emily and Jan make to one another to walk their life path together hand in hand, free of the fears that they left behind in a different state, in a different lifetime. We are here to witness the new beginning of a long-standing relationship. May our presence here today bring to them the love and affirmation they have been entitled to for all these years."


J
an sent me an e-mail several months later:

Wanted to let you know what an incredible impact our civil union celebration has had on the community. It has been amazing. Fellow teachers at school are coming up to me with congratulations, people I never expected to do so.

Several gay teachers are being just a l-i-t-t-l-e bit more open with being gay. Libby and her partner, Cindy, felt comfortable enough to come out to our coworkers at the CU celebration. Gemma and a handful of my former students visited me the first day of school and gave me "high-fives."

A lot of people were very curious and interested in Heather's part in the ceremony.
(a fellow teacher who cast a wiccan circle as part of the service) It was a major emotional experience for her. She jokes about now knowing what it feels like to come out of the [broom] closet.

Perhaps the best part of all was the incredible response to your part of the
ceremony, describing what Em and I have gone through in the past 20 years as a gay couple living in Maryland, and how important this ceremony was for us at so many levels. It opened a LOT of eyes and started a lot of conversations that are still continuing.


These are the conversations that MUST continue and WILL turn the tide. Sooner would be better than later.
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