Friday, May 27, 2011

Coming Out.

I think it's time that I out myself here at Veni Vidi Blogi.

I am a Muslim. I support gay marriage.

There, I said it. But why am I saying it now? Why today?

Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg of New York City asked our State Legislature to vote on the issue of marriage equality before the session ends next month. And no matter what his historical stance on this issue has been in the past, no matter who he is financially backing in the Senate, the point is this:

It's time to get this done. Once and for all, it is time.

And that's why I am saying this today, loud and proud, for all the world to hear.

I am a Muslim, and I support gay marriage.

I don't think the two statements are diametrically opposed, as much as the popular media would like to believe. And I also believe that I'm not the first Muslim to feel this way. Like former State Delegate Saqib Ali (and others of like mind), I view civil marriage as a state issue. I don't think that what you or I believe about gay marriage has any bearing on the issue in the least.

But there's something else too - and this is what will be hard for some of my family and friends to hear. I also don't believe that religion - any religion - should be based on hate, fear, discrimination. And this is where I have been waffling for many years.

It's always been okay (at least in my mind) to stand up and say, "Yes, I support marriage equality because it doesn't affect my religious views." And that's still true, but there is something that has been gnawing away at me silently, afraid to be formed into words...until now:

Muslims today should be able to identify with the issue of marriage equality with every fiber of our being.

We are a minority who are ostracized and condemned for the acts of a few individuals we don't even identify with. Every day, Muslims need to prove themselves to the world. Every day, in your neighborhood, in your child's schools, a Muslim tries to prove your stereotypes wrong. We show you with our words and deeds, how our faith is not based on hate. We exemplify how we are better than the frightening images you have filed away. How can we (and I) then turn around and point fingers at another group facing the same challenge? Are we not one and the same, both of us seen as outsiders? Is our struggle for acceptance not equal?

This is why I am speaking out today.

I know this will be hard for some people to hear. I know that it will be hard for some of my family and friends to come to terms with my views. But I believe this to be true, and I also believe that it is time for more of us to come out, stand up and echo these words.

The time is now.

Yousuf and I have always said that marriage equality is the single most important civil rights issue of our lifetime. How will history judge us if we do not stand up for what is right? How will I judge myself if I stay silent, knowing how deeply marginalization wounds? What will I tell my children in the future? That I was afraid? That I worried about being judged for my beliefs?

The sad truth is that as a Muslim, I already am. And that is why I can say this today, with an open heart and a very clear conscience.

My religion is love.

My faith is peace.

I am a Muslim.

And I support marriage equality.

If you live in the state of New York, you can use this nifty little tool from C-Span to find out who your local State Senator is. Then click on their name to find out their contact info. Call them today to tell them your name, address, and (in the words of a dear friend) "to step it the hell into the 21st century". OH, YES.

Also, this is a very sensitive issue for many of us. If you choose to comment (and I welcome the discussion, as always), all I ask is that you extend the same courtesy and respect to others that you would like for yourself. Gratitude, friends. xoxoxmahreen
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