WHITNEY: Worry about your own dang family

Worry about your own dang family.

I’d like to think my system of beliefs couldn’t be distilled into a sentence short and concise enough to fit on a bumper sticker, but I was proven wrong last Sunday when we passed an SUV bearing a sticker trumpeting the sentiment above. (Actually, the sticker I saw contained a swear word that I won’t reprint here. For the record though, I somehow agree even more with the expletive-laden version.)

Worry about your own dang family. Mind your own business. Don’t infringe on other people’s happiness. Narrow your focus and take care of your own.

Saying that this single idea represents my near-entire outlook on life might seem contrary. I’ve made my career to this point on the practice of getting into other people’s business and printing it in black and white at the end of each day — sometimes to sing someone’s praises, other times to take them to task for wrongdoing. That’s the job of a reporter though.

When I’m working, I’m happy to be the first to march up to someone in-the-know and ask what’s going on. Off the clock, I’m less concerned, maybe apathetic, about the affairs of others. I can’t even muster a care to flip through an Us Weekly at the dentist office. Pass me the copy of Bon Appetite, please? I gotta get dinner on the table for three hungry people tonight.

You stay in your lane, I’ll stay in mine.

This week is different though. I’m a little worried about other families in Michigan.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state’s request to suspend the March 21 ruling from U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, who had declared Michigan’s gay-marriage ban unconstitutional. On March 22, the appeals court had granted an emergency stay. On Tuesday, lawyers for plaintiffs April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse had asked the court to lift its emergency stay while the state appealed, without success.

Some same-sex couples rushed out to get married on Saturday, likely taking cues from same-sex marriage fights in other states and banking on having a small window to say “I do.” Some county clerks offices in southeastern Michigan opened on Saturday just to issue marriage licenses. Now, with the stay in effect, those couples are in limbo, waiting to see if their vows will be legally recognized, and we’re waiting to see what will happen to the definition of marriage in Michigan. This is the ultimate “mind your own business” moment, and I wish this could be realized by the people fighting so hard to stop same-sex couples from getting married.

If this law doesn’t affect your family — or your potential right to create the family your heart desires and have that family protected under nondiscriminatory laws — this isn’t your battle to fight.

If you feel your life is jeopardized by the broadening of the legal definitions of marriage or family, then let me be the one to break it to you: Your family and marriage were already in jeopardy if they were too weak to withstand the dissemination of marriage rights to others.

Worry about keeping your own family safe, happy and healthy, and doing your best to create with them the life you imagine. Worry, also, that some special interest group might one day take issue with the way you live your life — whether by choice or necessity — and take it upon themselves to lobby for legislation that would outlaw your rights to happiness.

Worry about your own dang family. Please.