Here we are, LGBT Americans, awaiting another ruling from the California Supreme Court about whether our minority group, our suspect class, will be welded into the foundation of equality. After watching the hearings, my hopes are not high. After March 5th, I haven’t found one person who thinks we’ll win.
Regardless of the overwhelming failure of our "organized" leaders in California (check out the latest failure , how a letter from Barack Obama which fully supports marriage equality was ignored by the campaign. The letter was originally reported in July, 2008) we all know why we were out voted on this issue, and that’s religion, specifically Christians. In the wake of our loss, and with the knowledge of the voting mentality of those who struck us down, it’s fairly shocking to see and hear so much "pro-god talk" at political actions and events. Put aside whether you believe in god or not (I’ll get to that in a minute) and let’s look at the facts.
The TRUTH in America is and always has been, that while we may be free to have whatever beliefs we want, when we step into the voting booth, we’re SUPPOSED to participate in the legislative process based on the principals of this nation. We’re SUPPOSED to put aside whatever personal mythology we carry in with us, and vote based on equal rights and freedoms for all Americans. Voting by those principals, the principals of this nation, has no effect on anyone’s personal beliefs, because as an American citizen, we are responsible to hold up the values of equality and freedom above all else. It’s a person’s private life which may work by a different standard. Voting is a public matter, it effects all Americans. It is not the way you run your home, it’s the way you respect your country.
Too many of us respect Christians who vote down our rights. How do you respect any American who decides the equality of another based on a belief? I would never support anything or anyone that attempts to censor personal thoughts or theories, but using those ideas to directly restrict the civil rights of others in America is about the most un-American thing anyone can do.
I look back at my childhood and clearly remember how the principals of America were pounded into all of our heads. Freedom, justice and liberty for all. When I remember all that flag waving fervor I wonder what happened. But in reality, not much changed. It was all talk, and most Americans didn’t base anything on American principals, they based it on the bible. It’s the reason we’ve had so many civil rights battles, because the majority has always tried to restrict minorities, based on belief, theory, fairy tales and some imaginary morality, reasons which are antithetical to American principals and the foundation of this nation we so proudly label as "great". We wouldn’t have had slavery, women would never have been "owned" by their husbands and gay people would have been granted equal rights at least back in the 1970’s, when all medical science proclaimed we were just as natural as everyone else.
What I really want to know, though, is why more of us can’t put this god thing to bed.
We all let go of Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and monsters under our beds, but many of us don’t even consider letting go of god. Those who do, those of us who’ve decided on reason over fantasy, who’ve chosen healthy minds over clouded ones, are looked down upon, although most Christians have been forced to tolerate us "rational folks" since we’ve become so visible. A recent poll shows that the number of Americans who no longer subscribe to the notion of a god is a higher number than most minorities, and there’s no doubt in my mind, given people’s reluctance to admit opinions which counter the majority, that the actual number is much higher. But does our presence make even the most logical and otherwise intelligent Christian reconsider? For the most part, no.
What about how certain religion tends to be tied to particular areas? If you’re born in America you’re likely a Christian, in the Middle East you’re likely Muslim, in India you’re likely Hindu and in Israel you’re likely Jewish. If that doesn’t make you question whether you believe in something because you really believe it or because you were taught to believe, you need to watch this video…
I really got to thinking about this after watching Frank Schaeffer being interviewed by DL Hughley. Schaeffer is a former evangelical whose father was instrumental in the forming of the religious right. Schaeffer recently abdicated his Republican affiliations due to their fanatical and dangerous attachment to the destructive and unreasonable principals of the religious right. Watching that video, and then reading Schaeffer’s blogs on Huffington Post , I was surprised and impressed. It’s rare to find a conservative American who not only leaves the Republican party but denounces it. To find one who executes it with such passion in public is a delicious treat. I couldn’t help thinking about what he must have gone through to make such a dramatic shift in his life. He had to do some heavy thinking and reasoning. The title of his new book is "Crazy for God", for god’s sake. So I was certain that I’d hear him say he was also no longer Christian.
Nope, disappointed again.
That’s what’s so fascinating. I listen to otherwise rational people on a daily basis argue points through logic and truth, then watch them spew out some idiocy like "miracle" or "prayer" or "god". And if I enter into a debate with them on the topic (which I rarely miss an opportunity to do) I’m generally met with an established, pre-approved roster of replies, in which changing the subject remains at the top. Currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity, however, is "faith". And then I’m told I don’t have this "faith" and therefore, I can’t understand it. Well, beside the fact that I was a Christian at one point in my life, even a regular member of church and a Youth For Christ group, I can at least look it up…
faith: firm belief in something for which there is no proof
It’s important to notice the first word in the definition, "firm". Faith does not apply to a belief which you could argue either way, or one in which you are flexible on. Faith is used for those who believe in gods because it signifies an abandonment of reason, a lack of logic. No one is telling any American they can’t have faith, in whatever they choose, but can we honestly respect anyone who uses faith, rather than American principal, to legislate against others?
Given the definition of faith, wouldn’t it be safe to assume that those whose moral structure operates from ideas for which there is no proof, would be a bit humble about how they speak and act upon those beliefs? Wouldn’t any rational American, regardless of the type of faith they subscribe to, choose to vote based on the principals of this nation, rather than some tenuous, intangible story or mythology? Would they really use something as fuzzy as faith to restrict the rights of their fellow Americans?
Most Christians do. In the local news coverage of our recent protest at the Save Mart Center , another Christian made it in front of the camera and said, "Don’t criticize us just because you don’t believe what we believe". She then went on to say "You expect the same treatment back to you and we expect it," which, ironically, is an argument in support of our protest. She finished with "I’m not going to sit here and tolerate the abuse."
I have no idea what abuse she was referring to. We never got anywhere near her. And for her not to acknowledge the abuse her and her fellow Christians inflicted on all LGBT Californians is one of the remarkable blind spots Christians continue to ignore. All this, after she shouted out, "everybody will bow".
This retort, used over and over by Christians, that we don’t "respect their beliefs", has nothing to do with the issue at hand. No one in America is working to create legislation to ban Christians from anything. Aside from trying to maintain a separation of religion and government in public places, nothing is happening which would disallow or restrict belief. It’s a tactic used for one of two reasons. Either they’re trying to deflect attention away from what we’re actually protesting, which is their acts of legislating restriction of our rights in the voting booth, or they’re simply too stupid to understand what we’re talking about. How is it that these Christians don’t understand that Americans agreed long ago that we are to be governed by the principals of equality, not of some church or bible.
Watching RELIGULOUS recently, Bill Maher’s documentary, just as our LGBT movement was crumbling around us at the hands of Christians, made me all the more angry. Along with people like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens , Maher is a personal hero of mine on this particular issue. All these men have crossed over from where atheists used to stand in America, when suggesting that there might be flaws in Christianity was all you could do, to laying it on the line. Maher says it best, describing Christians and other believers in spiritual gods as "delusional". I have to agree. Whether it’s a conservative from the religious right or a liberal Christian activist, I firmly believe an unwavering belief in spiritual gods reflects a few cracks in the foundation. And if that’s so, if a Christian is so certain of their faith that it overrules debate, how can you trust them on anything else?
But again, my real fascination is not the delusion. Humans have been laden with these insanities since the dawn of time. By far, almost all of them are gone now. We matured and science came along and we grew up. So what is it in Christians that makes them incapable of it? Even when LGBT Americans have been and continue to be held down by these people, we choose to start up our own churches or join one of the "welcoming" ones. Why aren’t more of us opting out of the craziness all together?
More importantly, as it applies to our equal rights, are we the one group Christians have decided it’s okay to deny equal rights too? They don’t agree with other religions, or with atheists, nor does their bible, but they’d never be able to restrict the civil rights of those groups. And while they’ve had some success at restricting the rights of women to have abortions, that applies to all women, not just lesbians or heterosexuals. We are the only group of Americans of a certain "category" which they continue to be successful at restricting. Maybe we’re going about this all wrong.
I believe one of our major hurdles is our inability to engage Christians in dialogues which explain that it’s completely untrue that anyone is working to strip them of their beliefs. If they say we are, then ask them to prove it. If they say they don’t believe homosexuality is right, then point out that no one is asking them to believe homosexuality is right, or that they may be homosexual, or that they have to marry one or attend the marriages of any of us. They don’t have to change their beliefs in any way. They do, however, have to act the way Americans are supposed to act, the way the courts have instructed us to act in civil rights victories in the past. They don’t have to agree with us, but they have to support our right to equality.
Tell them that there are a number of belief systems in America, but those cannot be the barometer by which we decide who has rights and who doesn’t. Belief does not trump equal rights in the voting booth. Certainly, as Americans, we don’t have the right to strip civil rights from others just because we want to. Any American who wants the luxury of organizing the rights of others so that the country looks the way they want it to when they leave the house needs to move to a country where freedom is not for everyone. Try the Middle East, if those are the standards by which you want to live.
If we don’t start getting absolutely blunt about these traitorous acts by groups who aren’t effected by those restrictions, we can’t win. This is not a time for quiet contemplation. This is a time to hold a mirror up and call a spade a spade. This has nothing to do with religion and we will not debate that matter further. We need to exhume the responsibilities Christians agree to as American citizens, those principals they are responsible to uphold as patriots of this nation. Let’s face it, Christians have a rich history of non-acceptance and restriction of others. We will never fit into their mythology and I for one, wouldn’t want to. As Americans, the argument for our equal rights and the equal rights of every citizen couldn’t be more clear. It’s time we made it known.