Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In the Case of: Your "Rights" Vs. My Life

I truly understand that the right of the citizenry to propose changes to the legal documents that guide their society is most certainly sacred. I also think that, as Americans, we have a duty to be active participants in our own government, and that we must never fail to make our voices heard on those issues that affect our very lives. I believe these things, and though it seems to me that too many of my fellow citizens are too often too ready to dig the heel of permanent second-class citizenship even deeper into my figurative throat, I still agree with what President Lincoln told Congress in 1862 in the very midst of the bloodiest war ever waged on American soil: even with "the fiery trial through which we pass", the United States of American remains the "last best hope of earth."

Having said that, anyone who has ever read anything I've written on LiveJournal or on my own blog will not find it surprising that I am more than just a little displeased with the ruling yesterday from the California Supreme Court regarding equal marriage righgs. As I stated before, I get the idea that free people have the right to change the laws when they feel a change is needed. Intellectually, I understand that right. What I don't understand is when it became acceptable to use the state's most sacred legal document to take rights away from ONE GROUP OF PEOPLE. What I have a problem with is why 52% (or whatever percentage it happens to be) of citizens believed they were imbued with right to decide that another group of citizens are not entitled to be treated fairly & equally under the law. And what neither the California Supreme Court nor any other entity or person can ever convince me of is that any of us are ever completely safe from the loss of liberty at the ballot box simply because most people want to take that liberty away.

Today it's GLBT people because we've made ourselves targets by refusing to abide our closets any longer & just sit in timid silence while ugly lies stand unchallenged, but if you believe that this brand of malicious "justice" ends with us, then you have no idea the genie that has been loosed from the bottle. The people who pushed & paid & prayed for Prop 8 have most certainly been heartened by their "triumph" in the highest court in the Golden State, to be sure, and they may feel that the enemy has been slain. Today these citizens celebrate what they have so proudly taken from their compatriots. I imagine that these scared little people must find a measure of safety & comfort now that GLBT people have been put in their place.

What they do not know & cannot understand is that what they have been allowed to take from us (and, though I live in Florida, it is my "family" in California who have been hurt, so I have been hurt) means infinitely more to those of us from whom it has been taken than to those who have taken it. They may never grasp that we cannot let it stop here, and that we cannot allow ourselves to be vanquished, and that while they fight for their "beliefs" & their "opinions", WE ARE FIGHTING FOR OUR VERY LIVES. There truly is no comparison.

We cannot afford the luxury of taking time to feel sorry for ourselves or to have a moment to mourn our loss; too much hangs in the balance--too much has already been lost. And, though I hate the idea of it, we will almost certainly lose again, if not in California, then in another place just like it, where fear & lies obviously speak louder than those of us same-sex-loving people who seek only to live our lives quietly yet openly, just like those citizens who somehow feel they are entitled to a little more equality than some other citizens.

If we "win" or if we "lose" these grand battles that must surely be fully engaged by GLBT people & our straight allies, I hope we will be driven by something else President Lincoln once said: “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have.”

Remember, it is only light of truth that can dispel the darkness of ignorance & fear...even ignorance & fear with an official government imprimatur on it.

Under the cut below, you will find a post about this subject by Rob Thomas on the Huffington Post (yes, he of Matchbox Twenty), which I found pretty enlightening for a mere musician ;-).

I love the title of his post, too, The Big Gay Chip on My Shoulder

The Big Gay Chip on My Shoulder

I am a straight man, with a big gay chip on my shoulder.

A while back on my Twitter page (yes, I know how ridiculous it sounds), I mentioned that, if I believed in the devil, Pat Robertson might be him.

Being a fairly liberal-leaning guy with either liberal friends or Republican and Christian friends who don't believe that being one has anything to do with the other, I was surprised at how many people took offense to what I had to say.

These people weren't friends of Mr. Robertson but friends, apparently, of God. They had "spoken" with him and he had assured them that he was no friend of the gays. He also told them that he loved America more than any other country and was a huge fan of Dancing With the Stars.
The small controversy or "Twitter-versy" (patent on phrase pending) all started when I had made the mistake of asking why two people of the same sex shouldn't be able to make the same life-long commitment and (more importantly) under the same god, as straight people. Why can't my gay friends be as happily married as my wife and I? It seemed simple to me, but let me start off by telling you a series of things that I believe to be true:

I am a person who believes that people are born gay. I don't think you have any control over what moves you or to whom you're attracted. That's why it's called an attraction and not a choice.

I believe that America is a great nation of even greater people. I also believe that anyone who says that this is a "Christian nation" has RHS, or revisionist history syndrome, and doesn't realize that most of our founding fathers were either atheist or at least could see, even in the 1700s, that all through Europe at the time, religion was the cause of so much persecution that they needed to put into their brand new constitution a SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE so that the ideals of a group of people could never be forced onto the whole. (I also find it funny when people point out to me that it says "one nation under god" in our pledge of allegiance, not realizing that this was an addition made in 1954 during the communism scare of the McCarthy era. It's not surprising, however, knowing that these same people would punch me in the mouth if I called Jesus a Jew.)

I believe the fact that an atheist, who doesn't believe in God at all, is allowed to enter into the holy land of marriage while a gay Christian is not, shows that this law is arbitrary. Are we to believe that anyone who doesn't live their life according to the King James Bible isn't protected by the same laws that protect those who do? Using the same argument that I've seen on the 700 Club, that would mean that Jewish, Hindu, or Muslim weddings are also null and void.
I believe that to deny this right to the gay population is to say to them, "this god is not your god and he doesn't love you." There isn't one person who is against gay marriage that can give me a reason why it shouldn't be legal without bringing God or their religion into it. Still, I'm amazed at the audacity of a small, misdirected group of the ultra-conservative Christian right wing, to spend millions of dollars, in a recession, on advertisements to stop two men or women who love each other from being able to be married, but when you present any opposition to them, they accuse you of attacking their religion. Isn't it funny that the people who are the quickest to take someone's basic rights to happiness are always the loudest to scream when someone attacks their right to do so?

But this isn't a paper about religion. How could it be? Since we clearly have a separation of church and state, how could a conversation about laws have anything to do with religion at all? I'm writing about basic civil rights. We've been here before, fighting for the rights of African Americans or women to vote, or the rights of Jewish Americans to worship as they see fit. And, just as whites fought for African Americans or Christians for Jewish Americans, straight people must stand up and be a voice for gay people.

I've heard it said before, many times, that if two men or two women are allowed to join into a civil union together, why can't they be happy with that and why is it so important that they call it marriage? In essence, what's in a name?

A civil union has to do with death. It's essentially a document that gives you lower taxes and the right to let your faux spouse collect your insurance when you pass away. A marriage is about life. It's about a commitment. And this argument is about allowing people to have the right to make that commitment, even if it doesn't make sense to you. Anything else falls under the category of "separate but equal" and we know how that works out.

The support of legalizing gay marriage is in no way meant to change the ideals of the section of Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin. But we should refuse to let other people's ideals shape the way we live our lives. Each of us has a short ride on this earth and as long as we stay in our lane, and don't affect someone else's ride, we should be allowed to drive as we see fit.

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