One more step in advancing acceptance

The presidential election always catches my attention so completely that I tend to take my eyes off of Albany. But I was hardly surprised when the Democrats took hold of the State Legislature after 70-some years of trying.
What I missed with my eyes on the White House was the impact this will likely have on our chances to finally legalize gay marriage here in New York State.
Yes, while close-minded and close-hearted individuals in California, Arkansas, Arizona and Florida added to the list of states coming out against those who’ve come out of the closet, here we finally have hope.
Because whispers in Albany say the winds of change will include a proposition to extend our support of gays and their partners.
It’s the sort of thing that makes me proud to be a New Yorker.
Mine isn’t a popular viewpoint here in Sullivan County. I know that, and yet I’m still baffled.
The Sullivan County where I was raised is a place that is largely homogenous.
Ironically, in a place where differences should stand out like sore thumbs because they are so few and far between, in the Sullivan County where I grew up, they mattered less. Our neighbors are our neighbors. End of story.
When the snow piles up and the heat has gone out; when your car runs out of gas and you’re stranded on the side of the road; when your child has wandered away and night is setting in, it doesn’t matter who comes to your rescue. They are your neighbor.
And if that neighbor is black or white or gay or straight or Christian or Jewish, it doesn’t matter. They’re there and they’re part of the community.
They’re familiar.
Somehow, people who are slightly different get absorbed into our small town life. They become ours; they become part of us. This is where I’m troubled.
Instead of accepting them, along with their differences, they’ve been accepted despite them.
Suddenly, we’re back to the beginning. Us versus them.
What we need to do is take a step out of our comfort zone. Accept the familiar and then some.
If it’s good for the goose… it’s good for another goose and that gander too. And the gander up the street? Yes, him too.
The attitude that’s made life in Sullivan County one I want to share with my daughter, the willingness to accept one’s neighbors, is one step ahead of the attitudes in states like Arkansas and Florida.
It’s what makes me proud to be not just a New Yorker but a native of this small corner of the state.
Can we extend it one more step?

Related Over at Strollerderby:

Mom Kicked Out of the PTA for Position on Prop 8

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