08:10 PM April 3rd, 2013

By: Lea Salonga, April 3rd, 2013 08:10 PM

I don’t remember my family ever being in the habit of heading out of the city (and enduring seemingly endless traffic jams) to hit the beach or the mountains in the north during those holy days of Lent.

What I do remember is every single television station shutting down from Maundy Thursday to Black Saturday, save for one channel airing the Fr. Patrick Peyton’s Rosary Crusade movies, where the actor playing Jesus never showed his face (must have been sacrilegious at the time of filming). As a child I always wondered who that actor was. Well, it was a smart move for him, career-wise; I would think it would be very difficult to follow that role with something more earthly.

There would also be an airing of a documentary related to Lent, whether it was an analysis of the Shroud of Turin, or a cinematic trip down the Via Dolorosa. But our practice at home remained the same … we stayed home and ate according to our religious practice.

We seem to have grown less religious (but not any less spiritual) so we may not be praying the rosary as often as we did back then. However, the need for spiritual renewal doesn’t go away. I was able to satisfy it last week with—surprise, surprise—keeping in touch with friends on Facebook and watching some amazing Jesus documentaries on History Channel.

People’s Facebook cover photos were either of Christian services, sunrises (and sunsets) taken at some of our more beautiful beaches. Some friends went mountain climbing, which translated to a few more incredible vistas as well. Plus, there was plenty of food “porn,” photos of amazing Lent-friendly fare that made fish and seafood look so sinful.

On the other hand, an ocean of red and pink washed over Facebook last week, too, with many Netizens pledging support for Marriage Equality in the United States. I changed my own photo, going from a plain red-and-pink equality symbol to those that contained “Sesame Street’s” Ernie and Bert, Mario and Luigi from the “Super Mario” video games, and (my favorite), Peppermint Patty and Marcie from the “Peanuts” comic strips. Not to say that any of these couples were gay (Mario and Luigi are brothers, for instance), but come on. The memes are cute. As serious as the Supreme Court hearings were, a little levity never hurt.

More seriously, the issue of gay marriage is one that hits close to many people’s homes and hearts. If you have a gay relative or a friend, imagine having to tell them that they do not deserve the same rights or privileges that everyone else enjoys. Imagine telling your gay son or daughter that he or she is a second-class citizen, and that the words “all men are created equal” do not apply to them because of their sexual orientation. There were photos posted of the demonstrations on the Supreme Court’s steps (to be fair, there were signs and placards both for and against marriage equality).

There were also comparison photos of those same steps occupied by demonstrators against interracial marriage, black-and-white snapshots of a time in history that is hard to imagine now—when a black man and a white woman, or vice versa, were not allowed by law to wed. (It’s tough for me, having been raised in a cultural melting pot, to think that two people who loved each other but happened to be of different racial backgrounds couldn’t marry). I hope that, 40 years from now, people would find unfathomable that which went on in 2013.


Civil rights issue

This is not a religious issue: it is a civil rights issue. It’s about making sure that under the law, two consenting adults may legally form a bond along with all the bells and whistles that come with it. It’s ensuring that, should one partner pass on, all properties go to the surviving spouse; that their children become beneficiaries to whatever inheritance there will be. It is also an assurance that, should one partner fall ill, the other will not be banned from the hospital room to visit. This has happened in the United States. There are survivors of 15, 20, 25-year unions that are instantly cut off because the law does not recognize their union. They have no protection in the eyes of the law. Justice in these cases is not served.

Stable unions

I have gay friends in stable unions that have lasted many years … relationships that in fact outlive those of their straight counterparts. These unions are shining examples of love, compassion, teamwork … they are true partnerships that I wholeheartedly admire and respect. When the great state of New York announced that it was allowing gay marriage, I immediately thought of two of these friends, happy that, finally, they would be bonded in matrimony. Of course I pledged my daughter as flower girl when the time comes. They haven’t set a date, but perhaps knowing that they could marry anytime, they’re taking their sweet time.

So … I spent my “staycation” supporting a cause I believe in, even only from in front of my computer screen. I believe in my heart that Jesus Himself would have approved. Jesus, mighty Son of God who stood with the weak, the outcasts, the less fortunate and marginalized … lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors … those whom society shunned, feared, hated and misunderstood.

Indeed, I had quite the happy Resurrection weekend.

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