Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Banning Gay Marriage

Can't you understand? That if you take a law like evolution and you make it a crime to teach it in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools? And tomorrow you may make it a crime to read about it. And soon you may ban books and newspapers. And then you may turn Catholic against Protestant, and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the mind of man. If you can do one, you can do the other. Because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we'll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!  --Inherit the Wind

North Carolina is thinking about passing an amendment that will declare that marriage is between “one man and one woman [and that it] is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” This Amendment will, in other words, ban gay marriage. (Gay marriage is already illegal in North Carolina law, but the opponents of gay marriage felt the need to include the ban in the constitution, too.)

Last week, Stokes County’s five county commissioners were scheduled to vote on whether or not to support the amendment. Their decision would have no legal bearing, but it would be a symbolic showing (or not showing) of support.

As well as writing a letter to the editor for the local paper, I delivered a speech to the commissioners protesting this resolution and amendment.

The people who are against the amendmentand there are many of uspoint out how the amendment discriminates, how it makes a minority into second-class citizens, and to how it is unfair, unethical, unjust, and un-American.

What about the people who are for it? Basically it boils down to this: Jesus. ::cue high-pitched choir::

Here are some snippets from letters to the editors that have been featured in local newspapers:

“The Bible calls homosexuality an abomination. Abomination defined by Webster's: something greatly disliked or abhorred. Sounds like God is against it. Let's be what God is for, and against (abhor) what God is against and abhors. Source

I'll tell you why! It's a sin and you know it is if you are a Christian. Athiest are afraid of Christians as they should be, because we have God on our side. Read the Bible. Source

“Our rights were given to us by GOD. I know too that many say they want Freedom from Religion,well we don't have that, it is officially Freedom of Religion. Our Government is a Republic and not a Democracy and our Constitution is not a ‘ Living Document ‘. Source

“Upholding the true dignity of human people requires renouncing those immoral behaviors that denigrate our likeness to God, because they do not reflect his divine nature. Neither does accepting and enshrining into law what he rejects in his divine moral law as written in Scripture…. Tampering with the authentic revelation of marriage will further erode the stability and security of the family and society and any redefinition of marriage is counterfeit and discriminates against God.” Source

“I believe that those who vote against Amendment One will do so because they do not believe that the Bible is the ultimate authority in distinguishing right from wrong, since they will be ignoring biblical teachings against homosexual behavior and fornication…" Source

There are a hundred more letters and speeches just like these. And those people who spoke in favor of the amendment at the county commissioner's meeting had similar nonsense to say. 

I’m tempted to call all these people insane, but I’d be giving them too much credit. Insanity is something we can’t control. Insanity is a disease that inflicts itself upon us. These Christians aren’t insane; they’re bigoted by choice.

And they lack any sense of (reality-based) historical perspective. 

How do they not see that this is Jim Crow for a different era, for a different minority? How do they not see—just as we segregated whites from blacks—that we're now segregating straights from gays? Marriage is the new "no colors allowed" diner, the new front of the bus, the new voting booth. How do they not see—just as we laugh at and pity the racists of the '60s and the slaveholders of a century before—that they, too, will one day be laughed at and pitied as backwards, ignorant, intolerant and prejudiced? This amendment—for all the talk about love and marriage and god and divine law and all these supposedly "high-minded" things—is nothing but bigotry, homophobia, and redneck ridiculousness. It's plain old discrimination.

On a slightly unrelated note: How unbecoming it is in a persona man especiallyto worship another man! I'm sure Jesus shat, and masturbated, and bit his toenails, too. Why must we all slavishly live according to someone else's teachings? Aren't the dictates of our individual consciences good enough?

And what good is it when these Christians condemn a loose reading of the Bible, while completely cherry-picking some sections, disregarding others, and warping its words to fit the political agenda of the day?  

Anyway, after a riveting public comment session at the Stokes County Commissioners meeting, the commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of the Amendment. The amendment will be put to a vote on the May 8, 2012 ballot, giving all of North Carolina eligible residents a say in the matter.  


Tesaje said...

When a set of people ask for rights, I ask, who would be harmed if they got the rights? Just because it hasn't been done before is no reason to deny people rights.

We used to think that gays = pedophiles and children are harmed. But we now have data that shows that gays do not harm children at any higher rate than heterosexuals do. We already have laws against harming children so any gay who did is already covered by laws to prosecute such an attack. Besides, girls get attacked at a much higher rate by heterosexual predators than boys by homosexual ones. Gays have children whether by former relationships or other means. We have data that shows children of gay parents do not grow up to be gay at any higher rate than children of heterosexual parents. They do not grow up to be psychological damaged at any higher rate than those of other parents.

Marriage law protects children more than anything else so it stands to reason that the children of gay parents should enjoy the protection of family law just as those of hetero parents do. The partners should have the rights of family law just as any other committed married partners do and abide by the dissolution laws if that happens.

The claim that hetero marriages are somehow threatened by gay marriage is ridiculous. Simply making that claim but unable to provide any concrete evidence that any hetero is harmed by a couple of gays getting married does not make it true.

So, who gets harmed? I can't think of anyone who actually gets harmed by a couple of gays getting married. Having to let other people live their lives as they see fit while not impinging on anyone else's life does not constitute harm. But they claim that they have a right to their bigotry and any one who says they can't be a bigot is a bigot to them. Makes no sense, but belligerence does intimidate people. Too bad they don't actually value kindness.

Anonymous said...

Semantic BS. Marriage. Civil Unions. Same same. We have more important things to worry about - like the related facts that we have an economic system dependant upon exponential growth in a world of inherently limited resources (i.e., one planet) and thus doomed to fail and also that the energy required to sustain our collective 7 billion lives greatly exceeds our ongoing energy "income" (i.e., the sun) such that we are rapidly burning through all of the stored energy from the past (i.e., fossil fuel).

I seriously believe that giant outer space solar panels - wafer thin - will ultimately save us by harnessing vast amounts of sun energy and sending it back to earth in the form of hyper focused lasers. Think about it . . .

Ken said...

Tesaje--"The claim that hetero marriages are somehow threatened by gay marriage is ridiculous." Agreed! It's a silly argument to make. Based on the high rate of divorce, few people look at marriage as the sacred, holy, hallowed rite of passage that they wish it was.

Anon--No, it's more than "semantic BS." It's treating a minority unfairly and unequally. The ritual of marriage means a lot to a lot of people, straight and gay alike. We should not forget about civil liberties issues because there are bigger issues out there. And if you read NC's Amendment One, you'll see that it also bans "any domestic union" other than marriage. So gays may not even have civil unions if this passes. The rest of your comment is completely off topic and nonsensical.

XXXXX said...

So glad to meet some sensible people in the world. Far too many people seem to think that "freedom" means that their particular likes and dislikes are given credence but somehow those with different ways are shut out. I simply cannot figure out why what 2 consenting adults do in their bedroom is anyone else's business.

Societies must change with the times. "All men are created equal" only meant white men, not Black men, Native American men, nor any woman. And, of course, heterosexual as well. It was a different time and our founding fathers did the best they could, and were far-reaching in many ways but, of course, couldn't possibly predict society 200 years later.

It's up to us to expand the notion of freedom. Civil rights, women's rights, etc. came about through the right to demonstrate, etc., a right built into the constitution, which allowed for changing public opinion which is the prelude for legal change. There will be ups and downs, as always, but if the country can survive due to other factors as Anonymous mentioned then eventually this discrimination will subside as well. Legally and culturally.

Anonymous said...

"Nonsensical"? That is a little harsh, Ken. I think the points I raised about our collective energy shortage are of such overarching significance that it renders any discussion of gay marriage akin to watching grass grow.

Ken said...

George--Well put.

Anon--I don't think you're wrong. Issues like climate change, overpopulation, and energy are, of course, of far more consequence than whether a minority has the right to marry. But that argument shouldn't be used as a device to completely dismiss comparatively "minor" issues, such as gay marriage. That's like saying that we shouldn't have made a fuss about the rights of blacks or women in the '60s-70s because there were bigger issues out there (nuclear proliferation, for instance). It seems to me that you're suggesting we bring all discussions and arguments that are not related to our most pressing problems to a screeching halt. That, to me, is nonsensical.

Ami said...

I just want to add a relatively minor point. There are many Christians out there who have no problem with gay marriage. I am a practicing Christian and a practicing liberal, hopefully raising my kids to be both. So not all of us are bigots. I'm glad you are involved in your community and you speak up as you conscience dictates.

Anonymous said...

'Jesus shat, and masturbated...'. That there is probably going to earn you some enemies but all I have to say is 'Amen!'

Jesus was a man and like every other man, flawed. My Christian beliefs tell me to judge not, do unto others as I'd have done, and to love my neighbor. I don't recall the part of the bible that says *except if they are gay.

I hope that the ban does not pass.


Unknown said...

Doesn't this cross some pretty clear separation of church and state lines? Or is North Carolina exempt? Or have those lines been erased ?

For the Christians out there let me remind you of the second of Jesus’ two greatest commandments: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Not love your neighbor as yourself "except if they are gay or otherwise different than you." Just love your neighbor as yourself PERIOD. Dan Pearce makes some really good points about this in his blog post "I'm Christian unless you're gay." http://www.danoah.com/2011/11/im-christian-unless-youre-gay.html

This is a very big issue and a cultural and political hot spot. In some ways it’s actually bigger than energy shortage issues. Why? Well when energy really does reach critical shortage state we’ll adapt. Necessity is the mother of invention and when pressed into a corner it will be amazing how quickly we convert to alternative sources of energy. But gay marriage is a cultural issue. There is no impending “need” to approve or disapprove of gay marriage so it comes down to how we as humans choose to treat one another and what we accept as allowable in our society.

That’s part of what this argument is about. People’s idea of what is acceptable or not. The other part is about money of course, as married people qualify for spousal insurance, social security benefits, tax deductions, etc. So there are some financial reasons why some may oppose gay (or any unconventional) marriage.

Finally, I’d like to say that we are going through necessary struggle to expand as a species. We’ve done this many times in our country’s history, from the Civil War to the women’s right to vote movement to the Civil Rights movement to the whole affirmative action thing in the 1970s. All these things are rungs on the ladder of human expansion, and gay marriage is no exception. Yes it’s a struggle and it isn’t fun but perhaps it’s necessary to help us as a society get beyond our limitations and prejudices, hopefully helping the world evolve into a better place overall.

Ken said...

Ami—Of course and good point. I hope no one read my post thinking I was ridiculing all Christians. I only have a bone to pick with those of the insane/bigoted sect.

Candace—Enemies, shmenemies. I have nothing against Jesus. From what I know of him, he seems worthy of our admiration. It’s just a shame he has a whole bunch of mean-spirited crazies saying they live according to his teachings, even though it appears they bear little trace of humanity, let alone true Christianity.

Maria—Well said! I can go along with your “Just as important as energy” hypothesis.

Mike said...

Arguing about the word 'marriage' is one thing. I can at least somewhat understand people's desire to hold onto a traditional definition of something, even if it is exclusionary. Inertia is a powerful thing.

But people who won't even stand for a civil union or domestic partnerships? I mean, why would you want to make it difficult for someone to visit their beloved in a hospital in a time of crisis? That's not a religious argument, or tradition, that's pure, shameless hatred.

XXXXX said...

It seems silly to argue any difference between a marriage or a civil union. A civil union makes more sense since the parties involved actually know the terms. Marriage is couched in terms such as "love" or "honor" or worse yet, "obey" (that one makes me cringe.)
So when you get to divorce court, most people are mighty surprised to realize what they are actually held to in legal terms.
Civil unions make more sense for everyone. I think we should try to move toward taking the illusion out of the thing.

I surely have learned alot from this discussion. The sad part to me though is that no matter which way the vote goes, the hatred will continue.

Anonymous said...

"Athiest are afraid of Christians as they should be, because we have God on our side. "

priceless. Laughed so hard. Atheist don't believe in God. That's the whole point.

superman69 said...

Grass roots living is the way of life in stokes county. Too many are afraid to go against the grain for fear of a splinter or repercussion from locals and family. The only way change will ever succeed throughout the county is better education. With that said our best hope is the GenX coming back home with liberal thoughts of their own. Too many people in this county have a belief system of believing in "Old People's Old Advice" Nc is a big part of the bible belt. I would say NC right now may even be the great big shiny belt buckle of the bible belt.

Anonymous said...

During the dark ages, Christianity used fire to take care of anyone that was different (witches, atheists, etc),ie: burn to death. Today, Christianity uses the law to take care of anyone that is different, ie: no rights and separation from "society".

Religion is still the root of so much evil...

Edub said...