I have short appendages. I look like a mini T-rex. I try not to draw attention to this, but sometimes the need to borrow long limbs becomes apparent and someone takes pity on me and pulls down the box of Cherrios from the high shelf. This fact is especially noticeable when trying to climb over things. When I was young, I would climb fences and get caught straddling the top. My feet were just not long enough to go either way. There I would perch, looking at both sides of the fence until someone came to the rescue. This position has become symbolic for a trait that I have – I can see both sides of an argument very well. Call it a blessing…or a curse.
Mormons don’t like fence sitters. We all know this! So, we hide and stay silent, watching what is going on. I think there is some scripture that states, “Woe unto the fence sitter, for in that day thou choosest nothing, thou choosest not me,” or something like that. We are seen as spineless, without opinions, and without gumption enough to make up our mind. Perhaps we are exactly the opposite. We see all opinions and have great empathy. Our views and understanding are without obstruction from where we sit. Despite the prevailing opinion, it takes a lot of courage to not take a side.
However, the gay marriage debate has taken a toll on my fence-sitting backside. For once, I am going to speak the truth about how I feel, in all of its chaotic messiness. From where I sit, the view is quite extreme on both sides.
I know that I am supposed to believe that acting on homosexuality is a sin – just as I do on other sins such as pre-marital sex, cheating, deceiving, or emotional abuse. I see posts on Facebook from my conservative Mormon friends being appalled by Utah’s acceptance of same-sex marriages. On the other hand, my liberal Mormon friends splatter their Facebook with rainbow images and calls to accept. They vehemently reject and pounce on those who voice differently. I get emails inviting me to upcoming rallies to protect traditional marriage. One caption read, “The Lord knows who is taking a stand and fighting for Him.” — a direct hit on the spiritual standing of fence sitters. I see the photos of the newly married same-sex couples filling the front pages of Utah papers – their faces beaming. For all I know, gay marriage could be the “desolation of abomination” that so many have been dreading. I pray about it. I ponder these stances. To me, God is silent on the issue. My own personal feelings are that gay marriage does not follow God’s pattern and therefore must not be right. I believe in patterns, but who am I to say? I wait for the Lord to explain things to me.
While waiting, I get the phone call from one of my two gay sisters. “I’m married,” she says in a gleeful whisper. “I’m almost 50 years old and I’m finally married.” There was no pomp and circumstance for her. I got the veil and the homemade wedding gown. I got flowers and a dancing reception. She and her partner left the state and had a quiet ceremony on a beach with all their daughters. I did not get to attend the wedding of one of my best friends in the world. I did not get to see her beautiful face glow in that sunset or celebrate with her. I did not get to help pick out the sundresses for my nieces or pin flowers in their wavy hair. I did not wrap my arms around my sister after she had taken her vows. I was broken-hearted at my loss. And I felt trapped by my own fear and my beliefs and my judgment. Do I congratulate her? Do I throw the phone in disdain? Do I love her? Yes, I could do that. “Are you happy?” I ask. She is unabashedly, gloriously happy. Then I am happy for her.
I think I’ll pull up a paisley-covered cushion so I am a little more comfortable on this fence. I think it’s going to be a long sit.