Saturday, June 24, 2006

Family Values

A good friend of mine submitted an opinion piece for the Salt Lake Tribune. I thought she expressed her thoughts beautifully. I've put the article here, without permission.

Support and acceptance are the true family values
Utah Voices
Gayle Hayes Castleton
Salt Lake Tribune

Not certain why I feel compelled to write, but I do. I don't expect to change any minds. There is nothing the other side could say that would change my mind, so I doubt I will change their minds. Perhaps I just feel a need to add my voice to those courageous voices speaking out in support of the homosexual community.
I'm a middle-age, heterosexual, LDS, married twice, mother of four, born and raised in very white, very Mormon Bountiful, Utah. When that is all someone knows about me, they expect that I support an anti-gay marriage amendment, that I don't consider same-sex couples a family, and that I believe homosexual "behavior" immoral.
I am profoundly saddened by those assumptions. I don't want to be associated with the defamation and hatred that accompanies the anti-gay rhetoric.
I do have a personal stake in this issue. My beloved brother is gay. He and his long-time partner are two of the most moral people I know. I wish I were as good a person as they. Of course, we've had conversations, lots of conversations. One in particular, years ago, involved the potential discovery of physiological evidence for homosexuality. I commented on how great it would be to put that argument to rest.
Surprisingly, he said it wouldn't be great at all. He said, "If they find a physical cause for homosexuality, they'll also find a way to test for it in the womb. Then homosexuals will be aborted before they are even born." The thought was horrifying. Then my brother smiled and said, "Then who would decorate your house, style your hair and design your clothes?"
Setting aside the stereotypes and my brother's sense of humor, think about it. I am certain that there are those who think a world without gay people would be a better world. I emphatically don't. This world, any world, would be a far less beautiful, a far less interesting and a far less delightful place. Think of the art, the music, the literature that would not exist. How devastatingly sad that would be.
Does "gay" marriage pose a threat to marriage or families? Well, I'm certain that no law or amendment will ever prevent gays from creating long-term relationships and forming families. Nothing has stopped them so far. Not in any culture, not during any time in history.
As with the poor, they will always be with us; they have always been with us. Codifying discrimination against them does nothing except codify discrimination against them. It validates turning up our noses at them and denying them acceptance. It legalizes our walking away from their needs. It will help some feel better about their own miserable lives because at least they aren't gay!
Every time I have seen families embrace and accept their homosexual family members, nothing bad has happened! The association has always been positive and the loving, caring "family" experience has only grown and flourished. They are available to each other for that family support that is so valued in our culture. Families are strengthened, not weakened.
When families have rejected their homosexual family members, it has not turned out well, even when that rejection was done "lovingly." You know, love the sinner . . . hate the sin? I've known homosexuals rejected by their families who looked for acceptance in all the wrong places. Bright, promising lives lost to drugs, disease and death. I've seen families who reject those they should love, depriving themselves of that valuable relationship.
Most sad of all were those who found the only way to cope with the rejection was to commit suicide. I actually heard one mother (an active LDS mom) of a homosexual son state that she would rather he were dead than homosexual. It makes me shudder.
I love my church. I'm proud of my ancestors who sacrificed to come to this valley and live their religion. I love the sense of community. But I love my family more. There was no struggle for me between choosing to support my brother and his relationship and supporting an anti-gay marriage amendment. I value all families.
So, I wrote letters to my congressional representatives. I expressed my deeply held beliefs. I asked them to vote against any anti-gay marriage amendment. A wasted effort, most assuredly, but I felt compelled to write.
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Gayle Hayes Castleton lives in Sandy and is a financial analyst for Rocky Mountain Care, Inc.

2 comments:

Gayle Hayes Castleton said...

HI! Hope you are well! FYI - I was just told that Carol Lynn Pearson quoted my op-ed piece in her latest book "No More Goodbyes." What an honor. Are you able to see my email address here? If so, email me. I no longer work for Rocky Mountain Care. I was let go shortly after the op-ed piece appeared. Hmmmm? Coincidence? I think not. Anyway, landed on me feet in even better circumstances. Karma. :)Love you, miss you! Gayle

Gay LDS Actor said...

Gayle,

Your email address didn't show up, so I don't know how to contact you. Send me another comment with your email address in the actual body of the comment (which I won't post to protect your privacy).

I read Carol Lynn Pearson's book (which I quite enjoyed) and saw your op-ed piece.

I'm glad you're in better circumstances. Hope you see this and are able to get a hold of me. I'd love to hear what you're up to.