“I assumed that if I mentioned my husband [to Dan] that he would run away or run from the room screaming, right? Or throw water on me, I’m not sure quite what I expected. But in every instance that Dan had to react negatively based on his beliefs, instead he extended a hand, a hug, a warm welcome. He role-modeled what his company has said they are, which is to treat people with dignity, honor and respect. And I challenged him: Well, if that’s true, then why are you funding groups that are actively politically engaged to hurt my family? I think he heard that. Through that difference and dialogue, we were able to say: Okay, what are some of our common ground issues?
“One of them was that we don’t want to hurt anyone. We don’t want to be used by politicians. We both care about young people and making sure that they have a safe learning environment. On college campuses, that was being impacted — it still is being impacted and Dan’s well aware of that.
“I think that the Huffington Post piece wasn’t to say we’ve achieved what we want from the standpoint of a safe learning environment on college campuses, but Dan and I, through our friendship, we’ve been able to say that’s a common ground issue: We don’t want anybody to be bullied. We don’t want there to be homeless youth, and we want there to be strong families. Now, what those families look like we may disagree on. But at the same time, I believe by simply being who I am, I’m showing Dan what he would call a ‘blessing of growth,’ that Shane and his husband, Tommy, have been together 18 years. That’s maybe a different family, but it shows commitment and it shows love.
“I don’t plan on changing Dan’s belief system or his views on marriage equality. But I do plan to use our friendship as an opportunity to talk about our common ground. It has been a journey that I didn’t think I would be on, frankly, and I’m embracing it because I am also learning from this experience.”
4. Let’s not be so serious all the time
“The way that relationships are built is not merely by expressing differences and telling someone what they should do or should not do. A true, authentic friendship or relationship is built around fun and engaging each other in things that you enjoy. Dan invited me to the Chick-fil-A Bowl game, and he invited my husband, who does enjoy football. . . I decided it was important — this was an opportunity to demonstrate what our friendship had become, which was a chance to laugh and to enjoy college football.