The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

What They Don’t Know

I don’t want to portray all conservatives as drooling dimwits, but good grief do they make it hard to avoid. Sometimes there’s just nothing I can do about it. Do these people read? Crack open a dictionary, maybe? Or some book other than the bible? Maybe hit Wikipedia or something before sounding off about an issue?

The columnist who inspired the previous post was bad enough. Now Rick Santorum has slithered out of oblivion to offer us his unique brand of brainless blathering.

What about the constitutional right to equal protection under the law? Marriage is not an inalienable right; it is a privilege, a license granted by government conferring certain governmental benefits.

There is a constitutional right that is under threat: the free exercise of religion.

Let me go out on another limb here and make another crazy prediction. Within 10 years, clergy will be sued or indicted for preaching on certain Bible passages dealing with homosexuality and churches, and church-related organizations will lose government contracts and even their tax-exempt status.

The California judges also ruled, for the first time in American legal history, that sexual orientation is just like race.

The California court just declared that those of us who see marriage as the union of husband and wife are the legal equivalent of racists. And openly racist groups and individuals can be denied government benefits because of their views, including professional licenses (attorney, physicians, psychiatrists, marriage counselors), accredited schools, and tax-exempt status for charities.

Where to begin? Well, lets start at the end and work our way back.

The California court just declared that those of us who see marriage as the union of husband and wife are the legal equivalent of racists.

Well, Rick, if the pump fits, slide your big foot in it, OK? When someone wants to deny people equality, and treat them as something less than equal, because of who they are, we call them bigots. Maybe a better word would be chauvinists, but it’s really splitting hairs when you get right down to it. And, no Phil, you can’t hide behind the old “love the sinner hate the sin fallacy.”

There are times when I wonder if we lose something of ourselves by not calling things what they are. Do we give people a pass they don’t deserve, because they are able to hide behind their religious beliefs? When people gather for the express purpose of denying equality to another group of people, what else can we call it but hate?

From a religious perspective, is it really possible to love someone that you don’t see as an equal? Is it possible to see someone as less than equal without hatred, or without at least contempt? If so, how?

From my perspective, either you see me as equal or you don’t. If you don’t, as far as I’m concerned it amounts to hate – and the actions taken to maintain inequality stem from hatred. I don’t care if it’s for religious reasons. If you can’t see me as equal – and treat me as equal – then you have to see me as (even slightly) less than human. You can’t really see me as equal and still deny me equal treatment. That’s called having your cake and eating it too.

I’ve heard all I can stand of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” My gayness is not what I do. It’s a part of who I am – who I’ve always been. It’s what I feel – have always felt – in my heart. Even if I became celibate (giving up my partner and my son), I would still be the same gay person. I would still feel the same in my heart.

My gayness is not something I do. It’s part of who I am, and what is in my heart. Hate it, and you hate who I am. You hate what is in my heart. You hate me.

It’s that simple. Isn’t it?

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take on this one.

Let me go out on another limb here and make another crazy prediction. Within 10 years, clergy will be sued or indicted for preaching on certain Bible passages dealing with homosexuality and churches, and church-related organizations will lose government contracts and even their tax-exempt status.

Well, Rick, what’s happened since you “sounded the alarm” about Massachusetts in 2003? No headlines about priests being rounded up and hauled off to “de-heterosexualization” camps or anything like that. (Incidentally, the mountains haven’t crumbled, the oceans haven’t boiled, and a surprising number of heterosexuals in Massachusetts have stayed married. In fact, the most gay-friendly states have the lowest divorce rates. )

But beyond that, the California ruling didn’t say anything about forcing churches to marry same-sex couples. (Frankly, I don’t know who would want to have their wedding in a venue where they weren’t welcome. Why invite hatred into such happy day?) The ruling addresses civil marriage, Rick. Those same-sex couples in San Francisco who just had their marriages made legal weren’t beating down the door of Holy Trinity Cathedral. They were lining up outside of city hall, where people got married without a priest, preacher, or any other person of the cloth having to be involved (unless, of course, they wanted to be).

The same error (it’s either an error or deliberate disinformation) was made Harry Jackson (whom I’ve mentioned in blog posts like, “Good and Gay: A Moral Context for Homosexuality” and “Are Blacks More Homophobic”) in the segement that followed mine on NPR’s New & Notes. You can hear his segment at the link right after mine. (Interestingly enough, we were both in the D.C. headquarters, and I actually hung out in my booth and listened to his segment. But somehow we managed not to bump into each other on our way out.) We didn’t get a chance to talk to each other, but he mentioned something about the “sacred right of marriage” being trumped by “someone wanting civil right” (which he seemed to say with a note of disdain).

Except that nothing is being “trumped.” The California Supreme Court didn’t give same-sex couples more rights and protections than heterosexual couples. They made that clear within the ruling. Nothing in the ruling stops heterosexual couples from having religious ceremonies (or gay couples, for that matter, if they find a welcoming venue). If Jackson and others like him believe that letting me legally marry my husband makes their marriages feel less sacred or “special” to them, that’s not my problem, nor is it the problem of the California Supreme Court. (Didn’t whites feel some loss of status when desegretation laws were struck down by the courts?)

Jackson also says “there out to be laws that can be put into place to help accomplish the things this gentleman talked about,” and by “gentleman” I assume he meant me. The California Supreme Court addressed those “other laws” and found them wanting, because they often include fewer rights and protections, and are thus inherently unequal. And, any newly established legal status besides marriage — such as domestic partnership or reciprocal beneficiaries — can be revised, reduced in scope, and repealed altogether by the legislature or initiative processes.

We saw it in Michigan, where domestic partnership was stripped of health insurance benefits, and in Hawaii, where reciprocal beneficiaries were stripped of a number of benefits and protections.

In Minnesota, Jackson’s fellow conservatives opposed legislation that would grant same-sex couples hospital visitation; one of those “other laws” he he said could be “put into place,” instead of marriage equality. Right here in Maryland, where the legislature passed a law granting same-sex couples hospital visitation, conservatives are urging the governor to veto the bill.

Catholics leaders in Maryland are calling on Gov. Martin O’Malley to veto two bills that grant gays hospital visitation rights and tax breaks.

In letters distributed earlier this month, Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien said the bills “would seriously undermine and clearly set a precedent for a further erosion of the legal status of marriage.” He asked Catholics to urge O’Malley to veto the bills.

Christine Hansen, an O’Malley spokesperson, said Wednesday that the governor is planning to sign both bills despite the protests.

Approved before the session ended April 7, the Health Care Facility Visitation & Medical Decisions bill grants gay Marylanders the right to visit a partner in the hospital and make certain medical decisions for them. It passed the Senate 30-17 and the House 88-46.

Another bill, which adds domestic partners to a list of blood and legal relatives that are exempted from recordation and transfer taxes, passed the Senate 26-21 and the House 86-47.

In New Jersey, Civil Unions have left provided surprisingly little protection, as employers and other companies vary in whether they recognize civil unions or not, since the parties in a civil union are not defined as “spouses.”

Do married people have to put up with any of this? No. Because marriage is unlikely to be stripped of significant benefits or protections. If you’re married and heterosexual, you’re as married in Mississippi as you are in Massachusetts. You can pretty much count on waking up tomorrow with all the benefits and protections you had the day before.

Not so for same-sex couples, because those “other laws” don’t work in terms of establishing equality. They are subject to change at the whim of the majority, so the next election could “end” your marriage, whether you want a divorce or not.

Finally, Santorm gives us this.

What about the constitutional right to equal protection under the law? Marriage is not an inalienable right; it is a privilege, a license granted by government conferring certain governmental benefits.

Maybe he know something the Supreme Court didnt’t with it ruled in Loving v. Virginia.

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

“Basic civil right?” “Fundamental freedom”? Sounds “inalienable” to me.

Maybe he knows something the late Mildred Loving didn’t know when she spoke in support of marriage equality.

“When my late husband, Richard, and I got married in Washington, DC in 1958, it wasn’t to make a political statement or start a fight. We were in love, and we wanted to be married.

…Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry.

…I am proud that Richard’s and my name are on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

Then again, maybe the point is what Santorum, Jackson, and the rest don’t know. What they don’t know about equality and about love itself could probably fill the Grand Canyon. For starters.

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: A Stitch in Haste

  2. Let me go out on another limb here and make another crazy prediction. Within 10 years, clergy will be sued or indicted for preaching on certain Bible passages dealing with homosexuality and churches, and church-related organizations will lose government contracts and even their tax-exempt status.

    That is crazy, because there are still preachers preaching all the curse of Ham nonsense used to justify racism and slavery for the last 200 years, sometimes aimed at muslims but sometimes still aimed at black americans. If we were going to start rounding up preachers for hate speech. It’s pretty clear we have no intention of rounding up preachers for hate speech, or one would hope we would have gotten around to those guys by now.

  3. But beyond that, the California ruling didn’t say anything about forcing churches to marry same-sex couples.

    Somewhere buried in the ruling the Calif. Supremes issued is a statement that the right of gays to get married shall not be construed to mean that religious institutions must offer gay wedding ceremonies.

  4. You make some wonderful points. I’ve been reading so much about Prop 8 and I, for the life of me, can’t figure out WHY these people, who are supposed to be so loving and spiritual are so fill with hate and disdain for anyone that doesn’t believe EXACTLY what they believe? Throughout history, religion has played a tremendous role in discrimination, persecution, hatred and murder. I read an online blog where this woman even said that Islam is one of the great religions. I think maybe Buddhism is about the only one that doesn’t instill hatred and persecution, discrimination and murder – but I could be wrong. Does she even know what kind of person Muhammad was – taking many wives some as young as 7. And, I mean “TAKING”. They never married freely because women were and in many cases still are property. Telling his followers they must kill anyone who doesn’t believe in Islam. OH, and when talking about our Constitution, people just don’t get that it was originally written for white land owning males. Nobody else had ANY rights. NOBODY. There was a time when Blacks couldn’t marry or you couldn’t marry outside your race. Religion should not be a part of the laws of our land. And, who would EVER want to get married in a church that didn’t accept them, is way beyond my comprehension – you don’t need those people. My point is: Change is inevitable. Growth is optional. Religious institutions just don’t ever want to change. When using the bible as a crutch for what is and what should be, maybe we should take all aspects of it literally – women should never ask questions in public. Only their husbands may do so. Women should not wear braids or make up. That’s in the bible. Ignorance is bliss!

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