by Tanya Ruckstuhl-Valenti LICSW, MSW
I just finished re-reading my favorite book of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. It’s got me thinking about morality and ethics and what it means to take a stand for the right thing. I’d like to see a bumper sticker (or more likely in Seattle a giant black forearm tattoo) that says “What Would Atticus Say?”
Historically the field of psychotherapy has had a downright embarrassing relationship with sexuality, from Freud’s whacky explanation for his multiple female patient’s reports of childhood incest as translating into that they secretly wanted to have sex with their fathers (hey Freud: ick), to the whole profession damning homosexuality as evidence of mental illness clear up until 1973 when it was removed from the DSM.
We psychotherapists are not known for our capacity to take political risks and stand up to the possibility of public censorship when our views are out of line with the common view.
That is why I am happy to risk saying this: Gay marriage is a civil rights issue.
In the past, the collective field of consciousness that we call society has engaged in a big huge resistance prior to, followed by a big huge “no duh” from the next generation after each passage of civil rights protection.
Legal formalization of civil rights represents a huge evolutionary leap in our moral code: it is the public declaration of a value such as equality between genders and ethnicities.
Values are like personal boundaries: they exist to remind us of who we are and of who we are not.
Here is who I believe we as a society are: we are a people who are beyond the xenophobic and tribal need to identify anyone different than ourselves as bad. We are a people who believe in justice and shared access to advantages, particularly when those advantage costs no one anything.
If you are lucky enough to live in a state where gay marriage is part of the public conversation, as we are here in Washington where referendum 74 is putting the issue to a vote in November, I hope you will join me in supporting equal access to the emotional security, social celebration and tax advantages of marriage between and among loving adults.
- Al Sharpton, Leading Black Pastors Support Gay Marriage (ontopmag.com)