Stop hiding behind religion to justify bigotry

Joseph Glatzer

On May 15, 2008 a historic decision was made in the California Supreme Court. It reversed a lower court decision and ruled same-sex couples have the same right to marry as heterosexual couples under the state constitution.

The court ruled it is a violation of the state constitution to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, and that providing rights to them through a separate system of domestic partnerships does not satisfy the state constitution.’

The following month, marriage licenses started being issued to same-sex couples throughout the state.’ On Nov. 4, Californians voted overwhelmingly for hope and change in sending Barack Obama to the White House, but also for fear and hate in passing the discriminatory Proposition 8.

For many people it is hard to view gay relationships as anything other than something inherently unnatural.’ Nothing could be further from the truth.’ There are a wide variety of animals that display gay or bisexual behavior, including koalas and flamingos.’ Gay Black Swans even mate for life and rear chicks together in the wild.

Another argument against marriage equality is gay people don’t have the right to change the definition of traditional marriage for everyone else.’ Many of the people making this claim also bring in religious arguments, saying they are not homophobic, just following their religion and the Bible.’

Traditionally, marriage meant a man giving livestock to the father of the bride, in exchange for his permission for her to become his property.’ Polygamy is also traditional, in fact it’s in the beloved creationist fable Genesis, in 4:19, ‘And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.’

Thank goodness we have redefined marriage throughout human history to mean something more fair and equal, just what proponents of marriage equality are trying to do today.

The Bible verse typically used to justify homophobia is Leviticus 18:22, ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” It also says in Leviticus 11:10 and 11:11, ‘And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you, ye shall not eat of their flesh.’

Put down the shrimp scampi Prop. 8 Bible thumpers, because it’s an abomination.’ Any day now these righteous God-fearing folk will surely be readying their next proposition, a constitutional amendment banning Red Lobster.’

The anti-equality crowd thrives on fear.’ They want you to envision same-sex marriage as some sort of scary social experiment that will lead to legalized bestiality.’ What they don’t want you to know is marriage equality became the law in many places in the world, and things were just fine.’

The sky didn’t fall and not a single man took his dog’s hand in marriage to the best of my knowledge.’ Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since 2004 and in Connecticut since Nov. 12, 2008.’ It’s also legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Norway, South Africa, and Spain.’

Also, foreign same-sex marriages conducted in places where it is legal, like Massachusetts, are legally recognized in Israel.’ In fact, openly gay member of Parliament Nitzan Horovitz is preparing to introduce legislation to the Knesset that would give gay couples full marriage equality.

Special rights and privileges are given to people who are married. The government shouldn’t be in the business of saying some relationships are good and others are not. That is in effect what it is saying when it gives heterosexual couples the right to see a partner in the hospital, insurance benefits, social security benefits, lower insurance rates, lower taxes, and citizenship for a foreign born partner, but do not give those privileges to same-sex couples.’

Marriage grants more than 1,049 federal and state level benefits, while civil unions only give around 300 state level benefits with no federal protection.’

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law for all Americans.’ In Brown v . Board of Education it was concluded that separate educational facilities for African Americans and whites are inherently unequal.’

Separate but equal civil unions aren’t good enough for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters either. When you don’t let them get married, but instead create a special legal category for them, you are telling them they aren’t good enough to have the same rights as everyone else.’

Sean Penn said it best Sunday when he won the Academy Award for best actor for playing gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, ‘I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.’