"Every time that wheel turn round
Bound to cover just a little more ground." 
(From "The Wheel" by the Grateful Dead)

Like it or not, we are identified as  Pensacola even if we are not ALL within the official city limits. In this case I like it. The City Council of Pensacola has passed a domestic partnership registry.  The vote was 8-1 and I believe no one from the audience spoke in opposition. The new ordinance includes the ability to make medical and funeral decisions for each other.  Domestic partners may visit one another in the hospital and participate in the education of mutual children. Registered domestic partners will be automatically notified in case of an emergency.  It's not marriage equality (which is outside the power of City Council to mandate) but in my opinion it brings us one turn of the wheel closer to that equality of opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that marriage can be.  Marriage is the ultimate partnership.  It goes beyond the practical and into the spiritual realm.   At times it can be two people against the world and that propinquity helps to somehow make it a fair fight. That has been my personal experience.  Why would we deny a similar shot at happiness and survival to anyone else?   My wife and I have been married since the late 1960s. We have weathered storms and grief together that may have been unmanageable and intolerable separately. How could the marriage of any people of any sexual orientation have affected our marriage along the way?  We're straight.   We couldn't help being born that way...created that way if you will.  God made our LGBT friends too and God does not make mistakes. For those who insist that God has indeed made mistakes in creation allow me to ask them a question.  Did it ever dawn on you that YOU could be the mistake?  Hopefully this all can be  left  as simply a plea to live and let live.

Lovers who are of any sexual orientation can have the same tenderness, affection, love and concern for their loved one.  We're all wired to be what we are but love is something that transcends all  attempts to categorize.  Of course you don't need a domestic partner registry or a marriage license to be in love.  Loving that special person in your life is easy to do but impossible to explain.  Any good scientist who endeavors to explain love will probably end up writing poetry instead.  Marriage (or to a degree,  a registered domestic partnership) unlocks certain financial, legal and cultural equalities and advantages.  That's all.  That's all people really want...respect and fair treatment.  Rather than an attack on marriage, this is an act of support for marriage.  It is an attempt to open marriage to even more people.   This actually affirms the importance and desirability of the institution of marriage.

Do you remember reading Andrew Marvell in high school lit class?  I'm assuming he was straight but his emotions were universal: "But at my back I always hear time's winged chariot hurrying near...thus though we cannot make our sun stand still,  we will make him run."   It was written to his "Coy Mistress" but it could have been written by anyone to anyone then (about 1650) or now.  Life is short and death always wins.  Love makes the journey bearable and meaningful.  Marriage validates all of that for some people. It is an affirmation of commitment and trust.  If you don't believe same sex marriage is moral then by all means don't enter such a marriage. Increasing domestic violence and murder rates suggest that marriage for some straight people is not the right choice. The same applies to domestic partnerships. None of these things are assaults on your particular marriage.  Gay and Lesbian people are not lurking outside your door waiting to convert your sons and daughters.  It doesn't work that way.  It's orientation not preference.  You no more choose your sexual orientation than you choose your ancestry.  You're born to be what you are. 

Robert Herrick wrote a poem entitled "TO THE VIRGINS TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME"  somewhere around 1600.  In it he said: 

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying."

He was an obvious promoter of love and he expressed sentiments that are a part of our culture.  He added:

"Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry."

Singers and musicians are today's poets and Michael Nesmith wrote a song called "Propinquity."  It a beautiful expression of love from one person to another.  It transcends gender and illustrates emotions that should be shared by loved ones.

"I've known of all the heartache
And I've known of all the pain
I've seen you when the sun shines
And I've seen you when it rains
I've seen you make a look of love
From just an icy stare
I've known you for a long time
But I've just begun to care." 

Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics to what may well be an anthem for two people in love who will experience the world together. Moon River can bridge the gap between two hearts of any sexual orientation.  It is my wish we stay out of the way of any couple making the journey Mercer wrote about:
Moon River, wider than a mile,
I'm crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
wherever you're going I'm going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end--
waiting 'round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.

Johnny Mercer also wrote another popular lyric about love in "I Remember You."

I remember you
You're the one who made my dreams come true
A few kisses ago

I remember you
You're the one who said "I love you, too"
Yes, I do, didn'tcha know?

I remember, too, a distant bell and stars that fell
Like the rain out of the blue

When my life is through
And the angels ask me to recall
The thrill of it all
Then I will tell them I remember you

I remember, too, a distant bell and stars that fell
Just like the rain out of the blue

When my life is through
And the angels ask me to recall
The thrill of it all
Then I will tell them I remember, tell them I remember
Tell them I remember you

Mark Twain wrote one of the most poignant expressions of love in his Diaries of Adam and Eve.  As death approaches each of them Adam said: "After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her. At first I thought she talked too much; but now I should be sorry to have that voice fall silent and pass out of my life." 

Twain quotes Eve:  "It is my prayer that we may pass from this life together. But if one of us must go first, it is my prayer that it shall be I; for he is strong, I am weak, I am not so necessary to him as he is to without him would not be life; how could I endure it?"

Twain writes an anthem for lovers for all ages when he quotes Adam at Eve's grave:  "Now that she is gone, I know one thing; wheresoever she was, there was Eden." 

Love and let love...can this be our wish for the cold gray days of Christmas and New Years?  For the encouraging days of Easter and the Spring Equinox?  For the hopeful rebirth of Summer months and finally the chill winds and full circle of the Autumnal Equinox?  "And the greatest of these is love."  It is an emotion for all seasons.


I note that the state of Florida and many of its county clerks are opposing outright, or at least legally dragging their feet, when it comes to issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.  We're one of the last states to deny all of its citizens a right enjoyed be some (heterosexual) couples.  This was once done under the banner of something called the Defense Of Marriage Act.  DOMA was a law supported by and enacted mostly by heterosexuals—some of whom had one or more divorces on their record.  It is reported that some supporters even had extra-marital affairs amidst their marriage relationships.

Look, who am I, or you, to judge which of our fellow citizens meet our prejudices about the right to pledge one's life to another.  Marriage is an expression of love and a person is so very fortunate if he or she can find that one person who truly is "The One."  So many people go through life without that.  Honestly, Neither my own marriage nor my spiritual principles are violated or even discounted if a gay couple wishes to publicly  and legally enter into the love and commitment that marriage represents.  It's only a problem if we make it a problem.  Marriage is a wonderful institution and it truly strengthens the fabric of our society.  Marriage has given me love and deep spiritual meaning.  How can I deny this to anyone else without striking a blow at my own marriage.

It has been argued that parents claim it is difficult to explain the existence of gay married couples to their children. They object to the requirement that they even discuss sexual orientation with their children.  I'll see that objection and raise it with this one.  Can you imagine how difficult it is for a gay child to "come out" to disbelieving, or even hostile, parents and loved ones?  Such is the stuff of life-long estrangement and more sadly, destructive behavior and even suicide for the child.  In my professional and personal experience I've seen such tragedy.

My friends, you probably already know people and youngsters who are gay.  Gay couples are not a threat to my marriage or yours.  If you don't feel marriage to a gay person is "appropriate" for you then DON'T DO THAT. Let us not prevent a loving same sex couple from enjoying the rights, privileges and stability of marriage.  Gay people can be just like your friends, relatives, co-workers and neighbors.  They might even BE your friends, relatives, co-workers and neighbors.  They might even be your children and pastors.

I couldn't resist claiming and exercising a right to speak for like-minded citizens on the subject of marriage equality.  The links below will take you to other sites of interest.

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Robert Herrick