Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One Step Forward--Hopefully NO Steps Back

Washington, D.C., joined the list of states which have legalized same-sex marriage with a council vote (please, no quibbling over the fact D.C. is a district and not a state) and the assured signature of Mayor Fenty. The District, which had previously authorized recognition of gay marriages performed elsewhere, now only has to wait out a 30-day Congressional review period--and fend off court challenges from the bigots who are demanding another shot at tyranny of the masses via a referendum (did they all flunk Civics 101 and the fact we have a representational democracy?).

Fortunately, it does not seem likely that Congress and the President will get involved; beyond the fact that Democrats control both, the matter is one of self-determination for the District. (Before we celebrate too much, do consider that Congress unanimously voted to override the dignity of that poor woman in Florida, a silly, unconstitutional cause which stirred President Bush into taking an emergency flight back to Washington from his Crawford ranch.) Court challenges are likely, but given that this was a legitimate act by an elected, representative government--and an act which has been upheld by the courts at every stage so far--it also seems unlikely the bigots will win via an appeal to the judiciary.

Speaking of bigots, check out "activist" Bob King from the article linked above:
"God's war has just started," Bob King, a community activist who lives in Northeast, said a few minutes after the vote. "Shame on them. We're going to get to the ballot box through either the courts or the Congress. So tell everyone: Don't let the marriage licenses start flowing."
"God's war?" I'm sorry, but like so many of the American Taliban, not only did Mr. King sit out the part of Civics class that taught about representation, he missed the whole First Amendment bit about not mixing church and state.

If there is a god (or goddess, or pantheon of deities), surely he or she has something better to do than keep two loving people apart. And those who would worship under the aegis of religion most assuredly should have higher priorities for a holy war: things like achieving world peace, stemming hunger and poverty, and working to ease suffering and illness. From a Christian perspective, there are far more--I'd wager an order of magnitude, at least!--commandments and guidances to do good and sacrifice one's earthly possessions for the betterment of one's brothers and even sworn enemies than there are condemnations of homosexuality. (The strongest Biblical basis for being anti-gay aren't even strictly scriptural; they're in St. Paul's various epistolary books.)

Yet while it's apparently a primary mission in life for many of these bigots to shout about homosexuality, stomping around and waving signs at protests and bringing wasteful lawsuits and demanding ballot initiatives, they don't seem to be much bothered by wearing clothes of two fabrics, working on Sunday, people playing football (yes, this violates Leviticus 11:7-8--a football is a pigskin, after all) or building up worldly wealth. I suggest a look at the Rev. Mel White's take on what the Bible says about homosexuality, as well as a thorough reading of the Bible itself for those who claim they have God on their side here. What it comes down to is that their religion is used as a crutch to justify their prejudices, not as a real basis for those beliefs.

It still amazes me that there are people who do not see the parallel between the bigotry of the civil rights era--say, opposing interracial marriage, which was in fact illegal at the time!--and what is happening today. Or (and perhaps I'm being a bit unfair) opponents of gay marriage also oppose interracial marriage.

It also amazes me to hear people talk about the "sanctity of marriage" somehow being damaged. Although this is not surprisingly ignorant of most of world history--during which polygamy was the norm, not "one man, one woman"--as well as the Christian Bible itself (explain Solomon, I ask you), what gets me is that no one seems able to really explain how they would be harmed by someone else's marriage. Are their own relationships so weak and flawed that they cower in complete fear of their own marriage collapsing around them? Sad, little minds, I have to say. As a heterosexual, married male, neither someone else's sexuality nor their chance at wedding someone they love bothers me in the least, and certainly doesn't threaten my own marriage.

Fortunately, though, for the moment there is a bit of good news on the fight for equality. With all the setbacks seen over the past couple of years, supporters of gay rights will take what victories they can get.

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