By: Colton Lott
2004 was the year of the ban. On that first Tuesday in November, I remember sitting at home with my blue and red markers, filling in the states one by one as the results came in for the Presidential election. Even though I went to bed not knowing who had won the election, there was one thing I knew—Oklahoma joined ten other states in making a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in response to Massachusetts’ Supreme Court allowing same sex marriages to take place.[i]
This election was the first occasion that eleven-year-old-me had really ever heard about homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Coincidentally, it apparently was the first time that many of my classmates had ever heard about the LGBTQ+ population in our world, too, because playground bullying became exponentially soiled with gay epithets and derogatory terms that year.
But what made this, now defunct, decision stand out was that it was the impetus for my re-education on how a “Christian” believes. This pinnacle moment in my life started with a class assignment. Because it was a Presidential election year, my classmates and I were instructed to design a campaign and to create a platform of three issues. With the exception of one girl who wanted to run for State Senate in Montana to save the wild mustangs, we all were running for President. With red, white and blue crayons in hand, we started designing what our campaign posters would look like and how it would incorporate our elementary platforms.
Because I was a good Christian boy, and my pastor’s son happened to be in the class, I decided that I would be running a “God-centered” campaign. Like a good, beef-fed, Oklahoma boy, my three planks were pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and pro-food assistance.
Determined to make a winning campaign, I went to the computer-guru in my family, Meme Janice, my maternal grandmother. She worked as an administrative assistant at the university in my hometown, so she not only had unlimited computer access but the know-how to make spectacular posters.
I arrived to her office after school and showed her my mock-up of how I wanted it to look: full of stick figures in red “NO” circles and up-beat, bubble letters. She took a look at it and asked for a clarifying questions. Then she said, “No.”
“But Meme! This is my campaign.”
“But Colt, we don’t believe this. We’re going to make some changes first.”
“But I wanted to run a Christian campaign.”
And in this exchange with my grandmother, my life irrevocably changed. She said (to the effect of), “I am a Christian, too, and I don’t believe these things. We support the right for gay people to be married because God made them just as they are. We support the right for women to choose because we don’t know their life... You can keep the food stamps.”
“Well, what else will I run on?” I asked, unsure how this was all going to shake out.
“Well, let’s add health care reform and we can think of the third one in a minute.”
Turns out I now consider my revised campaign more "Christian" than the first one filled with stick figures stuck behind red “NO” circles.
One of the most persistent myths I hear surrounding same-sex marriage is that support for marriage equality comes from only the “youth” of this country. Pew Reseach Center reports that members of the millennial generation (those born 1982-2000) are about twice more likely to support the right to same-sex marriage than members of the silent generation (1928-1945), at 73% and 39% respectively.[ii] Even with this gap, almost two in five older Americans support marriage equality for same-sex couples. This is not insignificant; this is a significant aspect of the revolution happening in the United States.
The changes that have occurred in our country in the past week are monumental. From protests, to constitutional bans, to court decisions, the Supreme Court finally took the ball out of the populous’ hands and declared the right for two people to marry, regardless of gender, a human right, protected by law no matter what opinion or belief may come. Things have certainly changed since 2004.
This change is not solely because of the young liberals who live in the United States of America; this is not just the “young people’s issue.” The U.S. has changed, and is changing, because of sacrifices made by many for civil rights. Changes are happening because LGBTQ+ folks are done with being persecuted. Changes are happening because people are speaking up and won’t quit speaking until they are heard. And changes are happening because people of all ages have committed to be more just.
I know first-hand that it takes everyone of all backgrounds to be the change we wish to see in the world; I was taught to love all of God’s children by my grandmother, who began campaigning in me back in 2004.
[ii] Pew Research Center. “Support for Same-Sex Marriage at Record High, but Key Segments Remain Opposed.” June 8, 2015.
Some edits were made on July 14, 2015 to correct typographical errors.--CL