Tag Archives: marriage equality

The More Things Change

The battle at the Indiana Statehouse over adding “four words and a comma” to the state civil rights law has brought back some interesting memories.

I first began writing a column for the Word, a newspaper serving Indiana’s gay community, some 25 years ago. I stopped when the Word changed ownership, but the new editor (an old friend) asked me to come back, and I agreed.

Then I did something else.

I went into my files and reviewed some of my earliest Word columns. That review left me with two contradictory impressions: how dramatically things have changed—and how little.

Here, for example, are excerpts from a column from the year 2000. Just 16 years ago.

My youngest son recently attended the wedding of two co-workers. It was a lovely affair—formal, at an expensive Chicago hotel, conducted with meticulous attention to detail.

The program book included a message from the bride and groom, reciting how enthusiastic they were to enter into wedded life together, how sure they were that matrimony was the right choice for them. In fact, they said, there was only one hesitation, one fact that gave rise to a certain reluctance to marry: the fact that others were legally prevented from doing likewise. It seemed unfair that the status of matrimony was available to them, a man and a woman, and not available to others merely because they were of the same gender. The message concluded with a request that those present, who had shared the happy day with this particular couple, work toward a time “when everyone can enter into the institution of marriage and have their union recognized by society and the state.”

I couldn’t help thinking about the implications of this simple, powerful statement….

What would happen to the pervasive bigotry against gays and lesbians if hundreds, then thousands, of heterosexuals added similar paragraphs to their wedding programs? What if every church and synagogue that believes in human dignity added such language to their bulletins? What if businesses catering to families advertised for business by interpreting “family” in an inclusive and affirming way?

That would change the world.

What a contrast I see between my son’s friends and the group of shrill and homophobic clerics who called a press conference in Washington last week to announce that God hates homosexuality…

I am confident that, if there is indeed a judgment day, a good and just God will offer a special place in heaven to the young couple whose love extended beyond each other to embrace the human community and all its members.

The real question is, how would that good and just God respond to those who used the name of the Lord to justify their hatreds and excuse their bigotries?

As we now know, what did “change the world” was the courage of thousands of LGBT people who refused to live dishonestly and who “came out”–often with the support of their families and allies, but sometimes in the face of enormous hostility.

Last year, marriage equality became the law of the land, and survey research tells us that solid majorities of Americans now endorse marriage equality and support the extension of full civil rights protections to the gay community.

What didn’t change, of course, is the fury of the religious extremists—including Indiana’s Governor—who continue to use their religions and their crabbed versions of Deity to justify homophobia and discrimination. They are out in force to keep the Indiana General Assembly from adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Indiana’s civil rights law. Their persistence is why the rest of us can’t rest.

Not yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Unexpected Reaction

I had very little doubt that the Court would rule in favor of marriage equality; I was more nervous about the politics of the Obamacare ruling. (I say the politics, because the legal case was so flimsy a non-political court would never have accepted the case).

Every constitutional scholar who had weighed in on the marriage case anticipated yesterday’s result. It wasn’t just compelled by (recent) precedents, but by those “facts on the ground” that even isolated Justices cannot avoid taking into account–with 70% of Americans living in states with marriage equality, a contrary ruling would have invited chaos.

And yet I really wasn’t prepared for the emotions I felt as I read Facebook posts and emails from so many friends and relatives, listened to the powerful speech by President Obama, saw major companies add rainbows to their ads …and just let it sink in. Like many others, I teared up a lot.

I probably can’t fully understand the emotions of my LGBT friends and family members, although I share their elation. But what I really don’t understand are the mean-spirited, vicious homophobes who went crazy (okay, crazier) when the decision was handed down.

I understand principled disagreement. I understand (okay, maybe not) adherence to rigid religious beliefs that label other people (it’s always other people) sinners. But the venom, the threats of civil disobedience, the seething hatred….the Bobby Jindals, the Mike Huckabees, the “Christian” pastors refusing to obey the rule of law, all spewing raw animus–that, I find incomprehensible.

There are lots of ways to “slice and dice” humanity. I would suggest that the last couple of weeks have shown us two very basic kinds of people: those who hate and those who don’t. Those who gun down innocent people in a church because their skin is a different color (and those who support them by setting fire to other black churches, by donating via kickstarter to their legal defense, or defiantly waving their own Confederate flags)–and decent human beings who are able to see themselves as part of a wider community that includes the “other.”

I don’t think I’m overstating the case when I say that America is engaged right now in an existential conflict between those decent human beings and the small-minded, self-serving and morally deformed forces waging an increasingly frantic war on the poor, on women, on African-Americans, on gays…on all of us who refuse to recognize their right to continued privilege.

Yesterday was a glorious repudiation of those people. But we still have a lot of work to do.

 

 

Greg Zoeller, Mike Pence, Micah Clark and the Dustbin of History

Well–yesterday certainly was a DAY in Indiana!

Federal Judge Richard Young–no wild-eyed ‘librul’– issued a beautifully-crafted, soundly-sourced opinion invalidating Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriages. As a (recovering) lawyer, I read the entire decision with appreciation for its logic and application of precedent; it was extremely well-written, without more than occasional resort to the “legalese” that jurists so often employ.

As quotable as much of the 36-page opinion is, however, my favorite paragraph is this:

“In less than a year, every federal district court to consider the issue has reached the same conclusion in thoughtful and thorough opinions–laws prohibiting the celebration and recognition of same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. It is clear the the fundamental right to marry shall not be deprived to some individuals based solely on the person they choose to love. In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as Plaintiffs, and refer to it simply as marriage–not a same-sex marriage. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.

At virtually the same time as Judge Young handed down his ruling, the 10th district Court of Appeals was upholding lower court decisions invalidating Oklahoma and Utah bans.

It’s over. I know that is a bitter pill for our elected homophobes to swallow, let alone the folks whose fundraising depends upon demonizing gay folks, but it could hardly have come as a surprise. The handwriting has been on all the walls for several years now.

It’s past time for Greg Zoeller to stop spending Hoosier dollars defending discrimination. His determination to appeal a decision that mirrors every other decision the courts have handed down is an exercise in futility, a waste of time and money, but of course, he and Pence and the other Professional Christians can’t help themselves.

They refuse to understand that they already live in the dustbin of history.

Fortunately, Most Christians Aren’t Like Micah Clark

The Boy Scouts did (half of) the right thing a couple of weeks ago, and triggered another of Micah Clark’s (tiresome and predicitble) rants.

Some of his bizarre assertions: the Indianapolis Star is “one of the largest homosexual advocacy organizations.” The Boy Scouts “decided to abandon their moral principles in favor of keeping pro-homosexual corporate donors’ money.” The Greenwood Church that withdrew from sponsorship of a cub scout pack is “one of the finest churches in the Greenwood area.” Gays make up “only 3% of the US population but are responsible for a third of all child molestations.” The Scouts’ decision is yet more evidence that “true manhood is under attack.”

Needless to say, Clark plucks his “facts” from thin air–or perhaps from the same “researchers” who broke the news that Sponge Bob Squarepants is recruiting for the armies of homosexual activists that Clark sees everywhere. (Which does lead me to wonder how a mere 3% of the population can be everywhere Clark sees them…)

I would ignore this latest roar of wounded indignation, but a friend sent it to me not an hour after I had spoken to a sizable group of Christian senior citizens about same-sex marriage. The average age of the audience was probably 80+. They all belonged to Christian denominations. All but one of them was white. (The common stereotype of such older white Christians, of course, is that they are the bulk of the nation’s culture warriors.)

Since Micah clearly believes that he speaks for all “true” Christians, this gathering must have been composed of “fake” Christians. Not only did they reject the sort of hateful homophobic characterizations and falsehoods that Micah and his ilk constantly spew, not only did they applaud the Boy Scouts’ decision, they were strongly supportive of marriage equality.

In fact, these senior-citizen Christians must be Micah’s worst nightmare.

Micah Clark and those like him can turn blue insisting that neutral reporting turns the daily newspaper into an advocacy organization. They can excoriate “liberals” like yours truly, and dismiss our positions out of hand. They can invent statistics and “facts” and insist that theirs is the proper “moral” standard. But all of that is window dressing. Their position rests, ultimately, on their conviction that they speak for the angry God of their version of Christianity.

But just as they stereotype GLBT folks, they stereotype their fellow Christians.

For every literalist, fundamentalist church that defines itself in contrast to sinful “others,” there is a Christian denomination that takes seriously the obligation to love one’s fellow-man.

For every angry, judgmental, morally-constipated “Christian” I’ve met, I can point to three or four others who see their faith as a prescription for love and understanding and who shrink from the very real transgressions of arrogance and self-righteousness.

I am neither a Christian nor a theologian, but I know the difference between people who are at peace with themselves and people who–for whatever reason–need to blame someone else for the demons that beset them.