Now that one of the political conventions is over, it’s time to take a half-time cleansing breath. How to evaluate this?
I would like to focus on Romney’s speech on Thursday night. There were no surprises. He stuck to the party line. But he did speak eloquently about parts of his life. His description of his parents’ marriage was lovely. He mentioned that his father left a rose on his mother’s bedside table every morning. It was obvious that they loved each other, and its influence on him was apparent. Yet he is perfectly willing to deny that relationship to others simply because they are of the same sex.
He promised to uphold the institution of marriage. I agree that the promise of two people to love and support each other for the rest of their lives is beautiful as well as socially important. It forms the nucleus of the family, a safe haven to which one can escape when things get too crazy out there. What I can’t agree with is the artificial differentiation between a union of two people of the opposite sex, and the joining of two people of the same sex.
Love is a rare phenomenon, and the willingness to commit to a lifetime coming together even more so. If you truly believe in marriage, then you believe in it for everyone. No such blending of two lives can cheapen the concept.
Both Mr. Romney and his running mate reiterated their desire to make America great again. A laudable aspiration. I also want to see America resume its leadership role in the world. We have a lot to offer. But I don’t think we can hope to be great until we grow up and get rid of this adolescent tendency to gather in cliques and exclude anyone who is different. Whom one is attracted to is hardwired, as much a part of an individual as skin color or congenital disability. It’s as wrong to deny a person access to any institution on the basis of the latter as it is to force him into second-class citizenship because of the former.
Part of Mr. Romney’s speech recounted his childhood as a Mormon in Michigan. Although he pointedly told us that he didn’t feel like an outsider, because his friends were more concerned with that sports teams he followed, not the church he attended, I can’t accept that he didn’t feel some exclusion. As someone who grew up in that atmosphere, Mr. Romney must have some empathy for others who have been excluded.
I remain an optimist. I truly believe that we, as a nation and as a world, will come through this period of flux and transition to a brighter future. I won’t see it, but I can envision it. Now is the time to start shaping that future.
Now is the time to grow up.