My partner and I often play a game called, “So, what I hear you saying is …” In this game, we take a statement and turn it into something completely opposite of what the other person said. For instance, if my partner says, “I like the way you fill out those jeans,” I would reply, “So, what I hear you saying is, I’m fat and need to drop a few pounds.” Or, if I tell my partner, “I love doing things for you,” she may reply, “So, what I hear you saying is, you think I’m high maintenance.”
The folks over at the National Organization for Marriage know this game we play very, very well. NOM has always been known for turning what an opponent says completely on its head in an effort to make themselves look better and their opponent worse. So, it’s no shock that NOM, which only has a passing relationship with the truth, plays this little game while trying to get in a personal attack on me.
Their first shot across the bow is to be too lazy to actually fact check how to spell my name. There is one “o” in my name, not two. It’s Chellew-Hodge – two “e’s,” and one “o.” Hello, cut and paste is your friend!
Then, they get on to their “So, what I hear you saying is …” portion of the game by quoting a piece I wrote in Religion Dispatches:
“To win civil rights, one of the last steps is to make it shameful to be against the rights of the group fighting for recognition.”
Anyone who is not bent on reading demonization and hatred into every little thing written about them would find that sentence quite clear. But in their little game of “So, what I hear you saying is …” the sentence apparently means “it must become ‘shameful’ for people to believe that children deserve a mother and a father, and that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
Not even close.
Instead, since they can’t fathom my meaning, let me spell it out simply for them (Note to NOM, read slowly and several times if you must for it to sink in):
I am saying that marriage rights for gays and lesbians will be won when those who oppose it are shamed by their belief that gay and lesbian couples are somehow “less than” a heterosexual couple raising children. No one should ever be shamed for believing children deserve a mother and a father – hell, I wish my own childhood had not been destroyed by the heterosexual shame of divorce. Every child deserves two parents – or even one parent – who loves them beyond all measure, who provides for them, and is dedicated to raising them with integrity and pride in who they are.
What is shameful is that anyone would deny a child the love (and the protection of that child that marriage currently offers) to any set of parents simply because of the gender mix of said parents.
So, NOM, what I hear you saying is that the only way you can make your argument look good is to distort and lie about the arguments of your opponents.
Founder of Motley Mystic and the Jubilee! Circle interfaith spiritual community In Columbia, S.C., Candace Chellew (she/her) is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, she earned her masters of theological studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, was ordained by Gentle Spirit Christian Church in December 2003, and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She is also a musician and animal lover.