I’m tickled pink (heh, heh) at the news from Albany, NY this morning, that last night the New York state legislature has approve a law allowing gay marriage, and that the law has been signed by the governor. This is a great step forward for civil rights.
Civil rights? Yes. This is about the equal rights of a group of individuals living in our society. I see absolutely no difference between gays as a group and racial minorities as a group. Both groups have been and continue to be discriminated against. Laws protecting the civil rights of minority races were passed over decades in the late 20th century, though true acceptance of racial minorities as equals in our society still has a ways to go.
Laws protecting the civil rights of persons of minority sexual orientation are in progress, state by state, but I expect that even after the entire country is covered in such equality laws, whether after state-by-state victories or by federal mandate, total social acceptance may still take a while. On the other hand, I see signs that this movement will be speedier than the movement for racial equality: if you count the start of the racial civil rights movement with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in the 1860’s, that’s been a long time. The Stonewall riots were 42 years ago.
I have high hopes for a younger generation who are more accepting of others and quicker to embrace change. An interesting note: a Republican NY senator asked his constituents for input on his vote (what a concept!!) and while snail mail and telephone responses were negative, email and Twitter responses were positive. Those who embrace new technology are, at least in this instance, more likely to embrace change and favour equality.
But who is not accepting of this change? The religious right, of course. The people who are stuck in a previous century – perhaps the last one, or the one before that, or perhaps two millennia ago when the myths they use for guidance were written. The only prohibition in the Bible to homosexual relations is included in the same guidance on day-to-day living for a wandering desert tribe such as prohibitions against eating shellfish, mixing fabrics, and mingling with menstrual women, while at the same time allowing slavery, treating wives and children as property, and stoning of unmarried daughters who get pregnant. The shrimp-eating, polyester-wearing right are happy to pick and choose which of these rules they want to apply to us 2500 years later. If they want to continue to follow the Old Testament, they should do so, but in its entirety: they should move to the middle eastern desert, live in tents, raise goats, and sell their daughters… but for those of us who want to live in the 21st century, please leave us alone.
I find it interesting that the most vocal opponent to the New York state law was the Catholic Archbishop, who wanted to lecture us all on the violation of natural law. Really? A representative of the world leader in protecting pedophiles lecturing us on what is right and wrong? If there was ever a more hypocritical stance I haven’t seen it. The Catholic hierarchy can’t even seem to follow their own scripture when it comes to the treatment of children (see Matt 18:6), and have most certainly forgotten the highest rule of all, to love one another (John 13:34-35, and many others).
And besides, aren’t we supposed to have separation of church and state in our country? Churches are happy to claim their protection against government regulation, but don’t see it as a two-way street. If a member of one of those churches wants to believe certain things I have no problem with that (as strange as some of those beliefs may seem). But those beliefs should not be imposed on others. It is not government’s job to enforce religious beliefs. If the only opposition to gay marriage is based on religious principles (and I have seen no other objections), and we are supposed to have separation of church and state, then there should be no objections. None. If a church doesn’t want to perform gay marriages, so be it, but do not prevent gay marriages from occurring outside of the church.
The negative comments I read on various news sites this morning are interesting but sad. Many are from people who seem to require something in their lives to hate and to rail against. People who cannot accept others for who and what they are. They write hate-filled expletives against people they do not know nor want to get to know. They make arguments without any backing or reason besides hate. They do not even understand their book of scripture upon which they think they’re basing their arguments.
It’s sad, really, that some people won’t take a minute to stop, think, reason, and figure out why they see things the way they do, why they don’t question what they’ve been told and start trying to think for themselves.
Why do I support gay marriage? Because I have the ability to be married myself to someone that I love, and I don’t see why I should have that right while others do not. I see no reason why gays should have fewer rights in our society. No reason at all.
[Update 4 July 2011] At least there’s one Christian minister who seems to think that “All are God’s Children”: Bishop Tutu.