As I’ve picketed 111Cakery, and after the national debate on gay marriage…it’s puzzled me why this is so challenging, and why it becomes so “religious.” This came to a head when I read the following article online (and the ensuing online chatter).
Because I am spiritual, I penned the following reaction…perhaps this is God / the Universe at work…
Sad that it takes a dying woman’s wish that her surviving partner is simply treated fairly and equally under the laws of our country.
Perhaps God works in mysterious ways to bring about social justice and civil rights when He sees that our Country and State aren’t “getting this” like we did civil rights for Blacks and Women.
But, I’m still left pondering…why so religious? (Remembering again, not everyone is Christian, spiritual, nor religious…and that freedom is just as precious as the freedom to believe!)
Not having lived through the Black Civil Rights movement, or the Women’s movement, I can’t imagine there was as much religious justification of the injustices and inequality. Of course, some use the Bible to justify “putting women down” in a second class state of submission to the man’s role in family, but generally speaking, I don’t see anything in the Bible talking about White supremacy. Yes, somehow I imagine someone used it to justify slavery…but I doubt anyone today would go there.
So why does this “gay rights” debate go so quickly to the Bible…(particularly when not EVERYONE in America is Christian! Religious freedom does still exist…)
Then in dawned on me…of course!
With the Black Civil Rights movement, we were talking about basic human equality and social justice. Putting an entire group of people at the back of the bus, or using different water fountains just because of their race is pretty easy to rally against. Granted, there was lot more going on than these trite examples. Blacks were being hanged, beaten to death and so on…again, pretty easy for “the good Christian” American to eventually come to terms with this not being right. Hence, the Black Civil Rights and social justice was much more about basic human equality.
With the Women’s movement, I imagine we’re seeing much of the same. Particularly after WWII, when women demonstrated they were just as capable at running companies than their male counterparts, we as a country finally started to see women as equal to men. Meaningful careers, equal wages and “the glass ceiling” were the big battles here (over simplifying). And while some still cling to a Christian worldview that the man is the head of the household, and more capable, that is again not an argument that many would cling to. So, seems like the fight for equality for women is also much around basic human equality.
So, now we arrive at Gay Civil Rights and Social Justice. There’s no wage / labor inequality here. There’s no argument that gays are “less human.” Instead, we arrive very quickly at love and marriage…in other words, this is uniquely about the “family unit” and the definition of “couples.” And, here, the argument quickly becomes religious in a unique way that is, sadly, very easy to justify with Bible verses.
Unfortunately, this puts this particular Civil Right debate in a unique position of pitting one “protection” (religious freedom) against another (the right to marry, and equal rights when it comes to matters of hospital visitation, rights of survivorship, etc.) Setting aside again that the entire country is not Christian, I believe this is the crux of why this argument has, and may always be, more challenging for our nation to face. It’s inherently more “religiously based” than any civil rights movement prior…
Today, there is a large Christian majority, which I do not believe would have fought so vocally against equal rights for Blacks or Women. But, they will clearly use the Bible to justify their argument because the (fallible) words are there.
This throws our Constitution into a new and unique position of finding a creative way to value both sides of the argument…allowing (some) Christians to hold to their “religious belief” that being an “active” homosexual is a sin — and having that belief respected, perhaps, in ways that conflict with the second half of the debate — finding the equality necessary based on sexual orientation for the “rest of us.”
So, this doesn’t mean the Christian Right are wrong, and we must “change their views.” (Again, remember not everyone is even Christian, nor do all Christians believe in the infallibility of the Bible…) Nor does it mean that we must give up on gay marriage, and submit to some “sterilized” version of the word like “domestic partnership” or “civil union” to placate to the Christian Right. Instead, we must agree to disagree – and allow both Truths to co-exist. On one hand, a group of Americans will believe that gay marriage is against their religious beliefs – and they will never be “inspired to make a cake” for such a celebration of human love and commitment. And, on the other hand, another group of Americans must be able to celebrate their own spirituality and religious beliefs (or lack thereof), and find joy in the celebration and commitment of gay marriage…and equality in the legal and financial benefits (and costs) therein.
So…this is gonna be TOUGH!
And that, is my percolation and revelation on why this is SO much more complex and difficult…and why it’s still equally worth fighting for.