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Posts Tagged ‘gay rights’

By now, you will have heard the news: The United States Supreme Court has just ruled 5-4 in favor of legalizing same sex marriage nationwide!

This is of course an immense moment not only in LGBT history, but in American history. This is our generation’s Loving vs. Virginia – and for exactly the same reasons.

We have not yet won the war against homophobia; indeed, we probably have many struggles ahead as we work to excise discrimination from our hearts and minds. A look at recent tragedies in Ferguson, Baltimore and Charleston are evidence enough of the fact that racist prejudice is alive and well, and the difficulties experienced by Caitlyn Jenner and Chelsea Manning show that even as we celebrate the L, G and B, the T is a victory that yet eludes us. And there is of course no doubt that gay people still face a great many small daily injustices even though this large one has fallen.

But days like today give us hope. Hope that a better day is not a fantasy, but an achievable goal. Hope that the very same society which marginalizes too many can still be brought to change its mind.

Somewhere in this country, a young person who has been burying his identity in hopes of acceptance rather than ridicule is feeling a great weight slowly easing from his shoulders.

Another is thanking God that her ‘other mom’ can finally have the same legal status as her biological mother.

Weary hearts are being lifted today, in every corner of the country. The road ahead is yet long, but today we took an enormous step forward.

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So I saw a deeply distressing headline this morning:
“Tennessee Passes Bill Allowing The Bullying of LGBT Students In The Name Of ‘Religious Freedom’”

I can barely describe how sickened that makes me feel. Suffice it to say that if you really think God is okay with this, you can buy me a ticket for the next train to Atheistville.

When exactly are we going to stop using ‘religious freedom’ as a code word that somehow makes bigotry and hate magically okay? This is the 21st century, for fuck’s sake.

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As any of my readers can imagine, I’ve been following the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case with a great deal of interest.

This was, of course, the case for overturning California’s Proposition 8. By this time, it will come as news to no one that the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, coming to the conclusion that there is no rational or constitutional basis for denying marriage rights to same sex couples, and indeed that the attempt to do so was unconstitutional in itself.

However, a (slim) majority of California voters supported the proposition in 2008. Does the judge have the right to invalidate the expressed will of the people?

That question, rather than any religious objection, is likely to be central when this case reaches the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Legally, however, the answer is “yes”. The Constitution specifically forbids the individual states from enacting laws which deny equal rights to any of its citizens. As such, the proposition was invalid from the moment the ink was dry, and should never have been put to the vote in the first place. The fact that a majority of today’s voters supported it will be irrelevant in the long term, whereas the highest law of the land is designed to stand for ever.

I’d like to congratulate Judge Walker (who is, incidentally, both gay and Catholic) on a meticulously thought-out ruling which applied the rule of law to the proposition without allowing for any non-legal bias, much as the Supreme Court is supposed to (and may yet be called upon to).

Congratulations also to the California couples who have fought for so long against an uncertain future; this is a milestone for all of us, but you will be the ones to feel it most keenly.

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Among the certain truths held to be self-evident by the founders of this country is the tenet that all men are created equal. While it took a little while to recognize that a minority skin color did not actually constitute being 40% less equal, and that a person’s gender did not automatically render them more or less qualified for certain tasks and duties, we pride ourselves on the level of equality we have achieved.

Unless, of course, one happens to be gay. Why is it that I fail to see any kind of distinction between this and other discriminatory ideology?

One of the biggest issues right now is the proposed repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. I support this repeal wholeheartedly, and favor the full integration of LGBT personnel into all levels of the military. Personally, I believe that a nation which prides itself on its diversity and its freedoms should be represented by military personnel with a similar respect for diversity and freedom.

Allow me to illuminate something for you here: placing a homosexual soldier in barracks with the rest of a platoon does not mean that the homosexual soldier is going to be desperately trying to get conjugal with the others. We are all capable of the same levels of discipline and restraint.

I would further venture to suggest that if a heterosexual soldier has a problem with serving in the same unit as a homosexual soldier, perhaps it is the heterosexual soldier who, by dint of his prejudice and bigotry, merits a dishonorable discharge.

The other big issue is of course gay marriage. I have ranted about this in the past on this blog, but some points are worth re-making. The objections to gay marriage have been almost exclusively religious in nature. It has been explicitly stated by the founders of this country that religion has no place in the governing of the land, and therefore in the making of its laws. Ultimately, who is harmed by the marriage of Adam and Steve? These are not people who would otherwise marry women and continue the great chain of life. However, their union can provide a stable family unit into which an orphaned child can be adopted and provided with care which would otherwise never come. Also, it should be noted that if you (a hypothetical heterosexual married person) honestly think that allowing the gay couple down the street to marry in any way cheapens or degrades the meaning of your own marriage, you should perhaps look to what weaknesses must lie within your own marriage to make it so susceptible to such cheapening.

We’re all people. Let’s all treat each other that way.

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Since the dawn of time, humankind has felt that, despite a lack of incontrovertible, tangible evidence, there is a higher power at work in the world. Whether we name it God or Gaia or the collective unconscious or any of countless other names, most of us believe in something greater than ourselves. For the purposes of this post, in the interests of avoiding unnecessary circumlocution, I shall call it God.

For millennia, God has nourished us, guided us, taught us. We have not always listened – far from it! – but that presence has touched most of our lives across the eons.

It strikes me, however, that the nature of God’s guidance may have changed. The title of this post would suggest negativity, but please bear with me and you will see that this is not the case.

Historically, the nature of God’s gifts was simply that of adding something good into our lives – a fruitful harvest, a child or spouse, a favorable environment in which to sell our goods and services. We have had a space, and God has filled it.

And yet…

juxtaposed plus and minus signs

There have always been a select few among us who simply saw the world in a different light than most. These people had the imagination and the drive to create something new. For these few, God needed only provide the space, and allow THEM to be the ones to fill it.

From ancient times through the Renaissance and down to the present, the number of these people have grown exponentially. In a sign, perhaps, of God’s changing philosophy, or his view that Man has become worthy of greater things, more and more of us are in a position to be able to fill the spaces, if only God will grant them.

This is true not only of technological innovation, but of great change within ourselves.

I’ve heard people talking about God sending them trials to test their faith, and I think more people are failing those tests than realize it.

When God sends a Southern Baptist family a gay son, this is His gift. The test is not to stand fast against what has been given, to try to cure it, or – worse still – to cast the child out. The family’s test is to grow within themselves, to grow the capacity to love and to understand a facet of the world that is beyond their  knowing.

When God sends an earthquake to a country woefully unprepared for it, perhaps this too is a gift, though one tempered with individual tragedy. The test in this case is not to cling to a belief that the afflicted people have somehow sinned beyond redemption but to bring the rest of us together, to allow us to show our generosity of spirit and our greater community.

If you believe – whatever you believe in – define your faith rather than letting it define you. Examine the hits you have taken and see the opportunities to fill the holes in your understanding. Really look at a person outside your race, gender, class, sexuality or religion, and see the person, the human being.

You probably won’t surprise God, but you may well please Him. And you may yet surprise yourself.

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