Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Proposition 8- Zenju Earthlyn Manuel



Proposition 8: What Happened to Change?

While Prop 8 is the catalyst to our actions and the stimulus to a meta-dialogue on marriage, I would go further to say Prop. 8 is harmful legislation that is being used as a tool to further moral issues of many who feel that same-sex relationships are immoral and an "abomination to God." The clear message is that there really isn't a question of marriage for same-sex partnerships simply because the California Supreme Court has upheld 18,000 (!) same-sex marriages. The court could have easily denied the right to marriage to those 18,000 people.

Meanwhile, many Americans in this Obama era advocate for change on a national level and have celebrated change. Many have celebrated difference this year with the victory of a different kind of President. When it was announced that the California Supreme Court had decided to affirm Prop. 8, what I saw and experienced as a Zen priest that lives in a same-sex relationship, is the unbelievable shock of not being part of the change America claims in this 21st Century.

What happens when we must deal with change (and may I say inevitable change) that is meant to transform hatred among us? Despite, Obama's win there is still racial hatred. What if the change we were to embrace included the end of oppression of one group over another? Letting go of a superior or inferior being is what Shayamuni Buddha taught in his lessons on "no-self" or interrelationships with all living beings. We are nothing without each other. So, the denial of freedom to one is to deny freedom to all.

At the core of the "Prop. 8-struggle" is not marriage, but the transformation of massive pain into freedom and liberation. At the core of this struggle is finding the deep and meaningful purpose of our lives as human beings. Can the fire we feel be transformed into non-harming ways for reconciliation and peacemaking? Legislation alone will not do this. After same-sex marriage is legalized, we will still have the hatred to contend with in our living on this planet.

The saving grace is that as the seasons shift, the sun rises, the moon wanes and waxes, as nature continues to show us each day on this earth...change is coming. In the meantime, may there be peace in our hearts and minds so that we have room for the love necessary.

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
Buddhist Peace Fellowship

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