everyone is entitled to their own opinion. i absolutely believe that.

but there are some things i simply, truly, truly, from the bottom of my heart, don’t understand…

how is it possible to treat other people as second-class citizens? how are some people better than others, worth more than others?

yeah. in one way i do understand… all of us are afraid of what we don’t know. and many times we are afraid to get to know what we don’t know. sometimes it’s easier to be ignorant. but education is the key. openness is the key. however, education & openness mean transformation, a willingness to be changed. a willingness to think, to face your own beliefs & perhaps, let them evolve.

i didn’t want to get political on my blog. i really tried not to. i haven’t mentioned the presidential race yet & all the issues and policies swirling about… until now. but i can’t stay quiet any longer. it’s too close. it’s too personal. it’s too emotional for me. yes, how you vote is your business, and i’m happy you (we) have the rights & privileges, as american citizens, to express ourselves through our vote. it’s important that we voice our opinions.

but, truly, right now, how you vote affects me directly. so i’m writing this post. i can’t hold it in any longer. i promise, i really tried to.

watching an obama rally live from sweden.

now, i’m not trying to win over any votes to my side, not at all. i respect that we all have differing opinions, because that’s one of the freedoms of a democratic society, a democratic process, isn’t it? a society where every. vote. counts. it’s the one time that the playing field is leveled, that all americans share the same right and opportunity.

i really am not trying to convince anyone of anything (ok. maybe a little. hehe.). i’m just asking you to listen. i’m just sayin’ that your vote actually directly affects my life. how this whole thing pans out determines so very much for me. not that it doesn’t affect & determine much for everybody. but right now, i’m living in the middle of discrimination. and depending on who is elected as president determines if i am liberated or still held captive. as a woman in love with & legally married (in sweden) to another woman, the fact is, how you vote affects my future.

perhaps this is an open letter, a plea, to all of those out there who think that i am not worthy. to all of those who do not want me to have the same rights,  who see me as different, as weird, as an outcast. well, i am not different, weird (yeah, in my own way, i’m weird), or an outcast. i am me. who i love does not change who i am. it does not affect my personality. who i love does make me a better person though.

i was once married to a man. i know divorced and now married to a woman. could i be more of a sinner? yes. that’s sarcasm. being married to that man for 9 years affected who i am (for good & for bad), but it did not change who i am. the liz who was married to a man is the same liz who is now married to a woman. my characteristics, traits, faults, gifts, talents, crazy, funny ways of being me did not change. the only thing that changed was how i feel about myself & how i live my life – as in, more free, more giving, more loving now. my wife has affected me – she has challenged me to care about myself, to love myself, to follow my dreams. she stands by me, and i stand by her. we fight the hard fights of life together. we laugh. we buy groceries. we plan trips. we talk about the future. we enjoy lazy saturday mornings. we cry together. we encourage each other. we give each other a spark in life. we are best friends. and we fall in love over & over again.

for those of you who don’t understand it, please just listen. there was once time in my life i didn’t understand it either… until i met others who were fighting to simply be in love & still be accepted, until i saw the struggles and pain that discrimination caused, until i engaged & talked to people who were in same-sex relationships. and then, it happened to me. and then, i understood the freedom that love can bring, and the pain that discrimination causes. and then i understood what it meant to truly, wholly, share life with another. while the person i love may be a woman, the love that we share is simply love. i promise you. it is not different. love is love.

and to think that there is possibility that i will continue to be unrecognized in my own country as a married person, that my wife & i are not worthy of the same rights as other people who live their lives day to day, just like us, makes me sick. it terrifies me. it angers me.

on top of that, what if we want to move to the states? can we do that? no. i am exiled from my home country because i am in love. let me say this one more time, my life with my wife is no different from a man & a woman’s daily married life. we do the same things, have the same problems, dream the same dreams of  life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.

can you imagine how it feels to not be welcome at a meeting because of who you love? to be banished to the corner of the room as an onlooker, but not a participant because of who i live with? or how it feels to be called to a career but “because of the rules” you cannot work where you once wanted to work? or how it feels to know that the day that i desire to move to the states, i have to leave my wife behind? that the option of moving & living together as a married couple in my home country does not even exist? or how it feels to be judged on who i love instead of who i am? 

it feels like shit.

like it or not, it is the same thing as judging someone on the color of their skin, instead of who they are. or the gender they are, instead of what they do/are. or how pretty & handsome & popular you are, instead of who you are. you see, all those external things are not who we really are. gender, race, physical ability or disability, nationality, who we love – they do not define us. no, my friends, who we are comes from inside us. who we are comes from our souls.

so, as i see it, there are two choices in this presidential election. one who understands this & one who doesn’t. now, i don’t agree with everything from either one of them. and i know that there are tons of other very important issues & policies to responsibly consider; but i know that one candidate will make sure that i remain unwelcome and an outcast, not because i have broken a law or because i am a bad citizen, but because i am in love. and the other one… well, he gives me hope that things can & will change. he gives me hope that we will move forward.

and that one day i (we), and so many other like us, can come home.

feel how you want to feel about same-sex relationships. believe what you want to believe (and that’s a whole other blog post i could do from a theological/biblical perspective). but, just listen to my plea, my cry. i am not dangerous. i am not weird. i am competent, and i have a lot to offer. i am a writer, a photographer, a sister, a daughter, a theologian, a traveler, a giggler, a seeker. my wife is all these things too, and more. we are not scary. we are not horrible people. and we do not deserve to be outcasts.

vote however you want, but just be willing to listen to others. engage people who are different than you – all kinds of people who are different than you… the poor, the other race, the same-sex couple, the elderly, the homeless, the single mother, the runaway. meet them all. talk with them all. find out about them as people, not labels. and then, and only then, make your judgement. make your choice.

and make your voice heard.

many blessings of peace to you all, no matter who you love.