You (yes, you) should only read the following post if you are actually interested is finding out what I think about LGBT&Q rights and Marriage Equality. I’m going to warn you right off the bat – this is probably not going to be very funny (of course, on the other hand, it may be; I’m a pretty funny guy). If you’re just looking for a laugh, or you don’t care what I think, then just move right along. It’s okay, I won’t be hurt.
Why I’m Writing This:
More and more, lately, I find myself being questioned about why I believe many of the things I do. Frequently, it is by people who are already convinced that I’ve gone completely off the rails, and are less interested in what I think, and why, than they are in seeing how far away from the tracks they think I should be on I’ve gotten (these people, of course, generally believe I should be on the same tracks as them).
I’m not writing this for them because frankly, I think that they’re mostly just looking for a fight, not a discussion. I’m writing this for the others, those few friends I have who, although they may believe I’m wrong, still have enough respect for me to genuinely want to know why I believe all the crazy stuff that I believe, and those who don’t actually know me, but may want to know what I think.
I’m also not writing this to try to convince, or convert, anybody to my way of thinking. I’m just putting it out there in hopes that it will make people think. This will be the first of a series in which I address some of the common sources of division in our society, in hopes of, not only making you think, but of clearly and rationally stating my own position on these issues (sometimes it’s hard to make a case for something on the fly; that kind of conversation usually devolves into issues of “feelings”, without the availability of sources to back up a position or line of reasoning).
I figured I’d start with a fairly easy one; LGBT&Q Rights and Marriage Equality (gay marriage); not that it’s particularly easy, but it (to me anyway) is a little less emotionally charged.
To start with, I’m in favor of not only LGBT&Q rights (and for the sake of expediency, from here on out I’m just gonna call ’em gay rights, which I freely acknowledge is probably insensitive and politically incorrect, but I’m a lazy typist, and it’s my blog. I apologize for any hurt feelings this may cause), I’m in favor of equal rights for all. I believe in liberty.
For Reasons of Liberty:
Now, there are a lot of people, much smarter than I, who have done a lot of thinking about this stuff. Sadly, a lot of them (at least the ones I know of) are also a lot deader than I am, so I’ll just take this opportunity to share some of their thoughts with you:
John Stuart Mill, in On Liberty, said this (among other liberty-related stuff):
“the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others . . . Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”
In other words, no harm, no foul – if it doesn’t hurt anybody else, it’s none of your business. Mill goes on to state expressly that this applies only to people, “in the maturity of their faculties,” i.e. adults who are capable of taking care of themselves. (it is a great book, full of a lot of pretty important thoughts on liberty, and what it means. I highly recommend it. You can probably find it online for free).
The preamble to the U.S. Constitution states:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The parts about establishing justice, securing the blessings of Liberty, and providing for the common defense can be applied directly to this issue.
Being LGBT or Q is not illegal. It follows then, that in the interests of justice, they are entitled to the same civil rights as I am. Instead, states and the federal government are introducing more and more legislation designed to specifically allow discrimination against them, mostly under the guise of protecting my religious freedom which frankly, needs no defense. The Constitution is all the protection I need.
Honestly, I really feel that if your relationship with God is so tenuous that it can be irreparably harmed by baking a wedding cake or arranging some flowers for two dudes’ wedding, then you’ve probably got bigger issues that you should be working on.
Here are a couple of articles for your consideration: Washington Post and LA Times. I want to point out that the LA Times piece is from the Opinion section, and should be considered as opinion, not fact, but it is still worthy of consideration.
It seems to me that to encroach on any citizen’s or demographic’s liberties opens the door to encroaching on the liberty of all. After all, if we can deny rights and protection to LGBT&Q folks, then that just creates a road map for how to deny them to my group or yours should they ever become unpopular.
I believe that to deny gay folks (or anyone else, for that matter) their liberty harms not only them, but our country. A few years back, when they made it legal for gay folks to serve in the military, there were a lot of people who were convinced that it would destroy our war-fighting ability. Clearly, it hasn’t. Back in my day, of course, it was illegal for gay people to serve, and then we were subjected to the namby-pamby hypocrisy of Bill Clinton’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which basically said that gays could serve, as long as nobody knew they were gay.
The reasoning behind all that was that they were a security risk; if enemy agents found someone gay in the military, they could use that information to blackmail the gay service member into betraying classified information, or other treasonous acts. Not until 2010 did we face the fact that, if we removed the ban, we also removed the possibility of our enemies using that as leverage. By removing that ban, we actually made our country safer.
Of course, I can already hear the cries of “think of the children! We’ve got to protect the children!” I agree, we need to protect children; just not from gay folks. We need to protect them from pedophiles – there’s a difference, and here’s a link to a very informative paper on the subject: Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation. In case you didn’t take the time to read it, it basically cites a whole lot of studies which found no link between homosexuality and molesting children. The overwhelming majority of child molesters are just that – child molesters, with no sexual interest in adults of either sex.
For Reasons of Humanity:
To deny gay folks equal rights is to deny them their humanity; it tells them that they are less than fully human. Think about the damage that does to a person. To be told that your life is worth less than others, every day, in hundreds, if not thousands, of ways, both direct and indirect. That’s what happens every time a gay person’s partner is denied access to their hospital room because they’re “not family.” When they are rejected by society, by their own family. when they’re openly mocked, and all too frequently humiliated, beaten, and even killed. In fact, gay folks are way more likely to be the victims of hate crimes. Here’s a very informative NY Times article with links to FBI and Justice Departments stats and reports.
When they’re denied the right to marry, they are denied the same rights as straight folks, which seems even more ridiculous in these days of disposable marriages.
I had a good friend, who disagrees with me on a lot of these issues, ask me, “Why do they have to call it marriage?” The answer is simple; for the same reason that “Separate but Equal” didn’t work out for black folks.
I’ve never understood the idea that the existence of gay marriage somehow invalidates my own; the only people who can invalidate my marriage are me, and my wife, the long-suffering and wonderfully forgiving Jess. Two dudes or two chicks being married has no more effect on my marriage than two Muslims, or two Hindus, or two Catholics, or two Atheists, for that matter.
That same friend, who is a much better Christian, and human being, than me, brought up the biblical “marriage is between one man and one woman” argument. I countered that marriage in the bible often is one man and one woman, but it is also one man and two women (Jacob, Leah, & Rachel), one man and many women (Solomon), and apparently allowances were made for one man and one woman + one didn’t-have-any-choice-in-the-matter slave girl (Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar), just to name a few popular biblical variations on marriage. For that matter, were Adam and Eve even technically married?
I also don’t buy that whole “pastors will be forced to perform gay marriages against their will!” argument. Neither does Travis Weber, Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, a part of the Family Research Council, as conservative a bunch as you’re likely to find. He explains it much better than I could in this article, going into a lot of detail on the Constitutional protections for the clergy. He does, of course, only say that it’s not likely, and that it will probably be challenged in the courts, but what isn’t?
For Reasons of Religion:
I am a Christian. Now I know that there’s a lot of stuff in there that pretty clearly says don’t do gay stuff (at least as far as men are concerned. Oddly enough, women seem to have received a pass on this, perhaps to make up for all the other stuff they weren’t allowed to do), especially in Leviticus. However, there’s a lot of stuff in Leviticus that we no longer worry about. Things like: eating shellfish (Lev. 11:10-12), eating pork (Lev. 11:7,8), eating rabbit (Lev. 11:6), a whole chapter on female purification after childbirth (Lev. 12), and mistreating aliens (Lev. 19:33, 34) (of course, that’s a whole other post – bet you can’t wait), and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Now, I’m not being facetious (at least not too facetious), and I don’t want to turn this into a whole religious argument. Anyone who’s read any of my stuff can tell you that I’m not much of a theologian.
What I think, as a Christian, is that it is our duty to spread the word to everyone that God loves them, and spread the good news of his Grace and forgiveness. Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love God, and that the second greatest was to love one another. I’m pretty sure he meant that to be pretty much all-inclusive.
As far as is it possible for gay folks to be Christian, I believe it is. I know that in my little country church, there is gluttony, gossip, trouble-making, foul-mouthed taking-of-the-Lord’s-name-in-vain, pridefulness, lack of forgiveness, pettiness, anger, sloth, smoking, and drinking, pretty much the whole gamut of sin, and that’s just me. If the body is supposed to be a temple, then mine is the temple of doom. That’s why I’m there; I need Jesus. They might too, and, if I behave toward them, or treat them, in a way that pushes them farther from Jesus, then I’m gonna have to answer for that, and I’ve already got enough to answer for.
Anyway, that’s what I think, and I also think I’ve beaten this dead horse enough for now. I welcome your opinions and comments on this, even if you don’t agree with me. Like I said, I don’t expect you to.
Thanks for reading anyway!