Rev. Ricky Hoyt is a Unitarian Universalist minister, author, and spiritual director serving a congregation in the Los Angeles area. You can read his blog and find out more about his ministry on his website. He is pictured below with his husband, Peleg Top.
I’m not the type to sign online petitions. I don’t add my name to open letters, at least not very often. I don’t forward “this important message” to all of my friends. I seldom call the governor’s office and punch numbers on the automated phone system to register my support or outrage about some crucial issue. I’ve almost never written a letter to my congressional representatives, except in those cases where someone at the social justice table at church has made it ridiculously easy for me.
Spiritually I just don’t want to get that worked up. I have a limited amount of passion and resources, and I don’t want to squander them by keeping myself anxious about everything day after day, week after week. Spiritually I’d rather take a walk outside, enjoy the sunshine, or the rain. I’d rather think about theology than legislation. I’d rather read the newspaper than the latest emotional plea from a non-profit, social justice, advocacy group in my inbox. The truth is I’d rather take a nap than go stand on a street corner with a sign. I’d rather stay at home, sitting on the couch, watching Grey’s Anatomy with my husband.
So I understand people’s reluctance to get involved in the marriage equality movement. It happens to be an issue close to my heart (see the above reference to sitting on the couch with my husband) but I hardly expect the same issue has risen to the top of every person’s social justice agenda. But I’ve also learned something concerning this issue that makes for very effective social justice action and that fits very well with my reluctance to add my name to lists and forward petitions and contact my elected officials.
I’m absolutely convinced that the greatest contribution I have made to the marriage equality movement is that I have been openly gay, openly partnered, and openly in support of this issue. I’ve shown people who know me: my family, friends, people at the church, even sometimes people I barely know at Starbucks and the gym and the barbershop, that I’m a person who knows about this issue and cares about this issue in a personal way because it’s actually about my life, not some abstract principle. I have also, on this issue, taken more deliberative and pointed actions in support of marriage equality. But more effective than any of that, I’ve simply lived my life as a married gay man (sitting on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy and so on) and whenever it was natural and appropriate I wouldn’t be shy about letting people know about me and see that side of my life.
It’s a lot easier to be against “gay marriage” than it is to know me and be against “Ricky’s marriage.” It’s hard to match any of the rhetorical arguments against marriage equality with the actual experience of knowing me and my husband and who we are and how we live our lives. So I don’t sign online petitions but I do have a website for my ministry where you wouldn’t have to search too long to discover I’m a married gay man, and I’m happy to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. I don’t sign open letters or forward emails to all my friends, but I am who I am on my facebook page and when I send an email to my friends and it mentions my husband they know who that is and why our marriage is important and worth protecting. I don’t call the Governor very often but I call my folks every week and I ask about their marriage and they ask about mine.
But also consider outing yourself as a marriage equality supporter and using all the regular places that you call and write and stand and speak out to announce your position on this issue. Don’t shove it down anybody’s throat but find a way to bring it up. “You know I actually know a gay couple who got married last summer.” “I can’t for the life of me imagine how anyone could object to my friend’s marriage.” “My church married a lesbian couple last month and it was beautiful.” Update your face book status to say, “… is celebrating Freedom to Marry week.” Write a blog post about the lesbian couple who lived down the street from you when you were a kid. Get a new bumper sticker supporting marriage equality and stick it over that John Kerry bumper sticker that won’t come off.
Then go watch Grey’s Anatomy.