Saturday, June 27, 2015

Love vs. Hate - Love Won!

My thoughts about gay rights have not changed in nearly 50 years. Too bad those who oppose gay marriage haven't changed their minds either.

In 1968, I had just completed one of two years in the Peace Corps in Brazil. I was using my vacation time to take a bus trip from the northeast of Brazil, south as far as Buenos Aires.  Along the way south and back, I stopped to visit a Peace Corps friend in São Paulo. He was a lawyer and had set up a free legal-aide service for the poor in that ever-growing city.

I don't know how we got onto the subject of gay lifestyles, but I remember saying, "I wish people would worry more about who hates each other than who loves each other.  Lovers are not a problem. Haters are."

To me, gay rights should have been a non-issue, but of course, it wasn't in Brazil and certainly not in the U.S. despite our claiming to be the one country in the world that awards freedom to all.

At that time, I never thought it would take 47 years for marriage equality to become a reality. Yet, over the years, there were times when I thought it would never happen.

The Civil Rights Bill had recently passed. I never would have thought we'd still be dealing with deadly racial issues in 2015 either.  When 9 black members of a Charleston church were killed by a young man full of hate, who turned out to be the better people? Every family member I saw on TV said they forgave the killer. It must have been extremely difficult to say that, but they knew it was the right thing to do. So much for the racial war the killer expected.

So, let's worry about the people who hate, not the ones who love ---and that includes a lot of people who say they are Christians, yet are intolerant, hateful, and have no empathy for anyone who is not like them.

My hat is off to those religious people who have remembered to "judge not."
From the last page of the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilizations’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

written by Justice Kennedy

This comment was found on The Daily Kos in response to an article: "Revolution and the right to discriminate: Republicans respond to marriage equality" by Laura Clawson

Can someone explain to me just exactly what right or rights we Christians lost today? We didn't. We still don't have to marry a gay person. We can still choose to marry another heterosexual. We can still go to the church of our choice. We can still live by the ideals of Christ. We just can't FORCE it on others. Because we choose to follow Jesus doesn't permit us to require everyone to. The Constitution is our governing document, not the Bible. If you really believe that "God's law" comes before Constitutional law, then you really never learned the basics of American History.

I might add that Jesus never said a word about homosexuality.  The law everyone refers to is from the Old Testament. That, of course, gives reason enough for many people to agree with the Bible that it is an abomination.  But that same Bible gives hundreds of other laws (I believe more than 600) and most people break many of them all the time. If you eat pork, lobster or crab, if you wear clothing made of two or more different fibers, or have ever cheated or lied, you have committed abominations. If you are proud, scheming, have a hard heart or have ever stolen something ---those are abominations. It's an abomination to wear clothes of the opposite sex. I stopped wearing dresses long ago simply because I hate wearing stockings and dress shoes, so I guess I'm in deep trouble. 

If you do not stone a disobedient child, you are breaking an Old Testament law.  If your daughter is raped, according to O.T. laws she has to marry her rapist and never divorce. If you use the same knife to cut both cheese and meat, you are breaking a Biblical law. Other O.T. rules and laws give you permission to own slaves and even to sell your daughter into slavery. If your brother dies without heirs, it is your duty to have sex with his widow to give your brother an heir.
It is interesting that there are no Biblical laws against lesbian activity. And because lesbians have the lowest rate of HIV, many have claimed they are God's chosen people.

Why have we rejected many of the O.T. laws, but cling onto the one about homosexuality?  According to the O.T. the main reason homosexuality was frowned upon was that gay couple do not reproduce.  At that time, teens were encouraged to marry and have as many children as possible. Why? First, the infant mortality rate was high, so even if one had 10 children, a couple was lucky if 5 survived. And since the life expectancy was around 40 for men and lower for women (due to childbirth complications) one had to reproduce at a young age and often.  But today, with world population exploding, there is no need for everyone to reproduce.  And even many heterosexual couples choose not to. My husband and I consciously chose not to have children.

If you want to site an O.T. law that you feel everyone should obey, then you better follow every one of the laws in the O.T. yourself.  Unfortunately, you would probably be going against civil laws and be in jail if you sold your daughter into slavery or killed your adulterous neighbor by stoning him or her. If the death penalty as described in the O.T. was applied to every abomination in the Bible, few would be spared.

We have evolved beyond many of the rules and laws of Biblical times, because we no longer think they are humane and/or they don't make sense in our time.  To keep people who love each other apart is also inhumane.

The reason everyone needs marriage rights is because there are benefits. Spouses can be on each other's healthcare plans, when one spouse dies the other won't have to pay inheritance taxes, they can save money by filing joint tax returns, they can visit each other in hospitals and receive medical information for a spouse who is unable to speak for him/herself. They can also make a public commitment to each other.  In other words, they can have the benefits open to heterosexual married couples that are not open to live-in partners.

I lived in Brazil for several years. There, church marriages are not legal marriages. Couples must be married by the equivalent of a justice of the peace for their marriage to be legal.  Then, if they wish, they can also have a religious wedding.  Therefore, all legal marriages are civil unions. They provide legal benefits to married couples.  Many European countries' laws are similar.

I think that would be a good solution here, too. All marriages would be civil unions --then if the church of one's choice chooses to marry a couple, be they heterosexual or homosexual or transexual, then the couple can marry in that venue, too. If the church does not respect the right to marry, then a couple will still be married in a civil union, which has to be recognized by local, state, and federal governments. They can, of course, choose a church that is more tolerant to marry them in a religious ceremony.
If you are still not convinced, I suggest you read this (written by a minister):