Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Not Every Battle Has a Headline

Bad enough to wake up this morning, hearing that 53 percent of Maine voters decided their gay and lesbian neighbors don't deserve equal marriage rights. But then...

A friend of mine was having surgery, so I went to visit him at the hospital. In the lounge, I saw a young couple, the mother holding an infant. I couldn't help but smile and say: "Beautiful baby."

They looked up at me, the father giving a soft thank you. Then, the mother exploded into tears, and he turned his attention to comforting her. After a few minutes, he went over to me and explained.

One of the first things every new parent wants to know is: boy or girl? For a small percentage of births, the answer isn't always that clear. And the debate about assigning gender to intersex babies -- up to and including surgery -- still goes on. After discussing their case with the doctors, these parents decided the best course was a "wait and see" approach. Give the child a gender-neutral name, and patiently watch and listen. A brave decision, especially since it might take years. But, as deeply spiritual people, these loving parents believed that it was best to leave this in God's hands.

Unfortunately, the minister of their church disagreed. After telling him about their child and their decision, he replied that he could not "in good conscience" agreed to perform a christening. In his mind, God would never create a child who was not clearly male or female. Either the doctors were all wrong, or this was the Devil's work -- and the parents were letting themselves be deceived.

He was mad. "Royally pissed" would be a better term. And he was conflicted -- tied by deep faith and family roots to his church community, yet enraged by this arrogant and inhumane minister.

So I listened. I affirmed his right to be angry, to want what was best for the beautiful child in his wife's arms. And I did what I could to help, writing down his email address so I could look for another minister to perform the christening.

They thanked me, both for understanding and for the offer. I've just finished calling and emailing, finding some ministers who would be willing to help, emailing the info to the young couple. Such battles for justice rarely make the headlines, but that doesn't make them any less worth the fight.

Before I left them, there were a few more tears. Only now, they came with smiles.


  1. Wow. You were definately in the right place at the right time to help these people.