Marriage Equality 12/9/22

Political Thoughts with Richard Bleil

Today, with the Democrats still in the majority in both houses of Congress, they sent a bill protecting marriage equality to President Biden’s desk who will, no doubt, sign it into law.  This should be the end of the bill’s journey, but in today’s political climate there is no doubt that the lawsuits to invalidate the law are just around the corner.  I’ve no doubt that these lawsuits will end up before the Supreme Court, with a conservative majority, some of whom have already spoken out against marriage equality and have certainly taken steps to reduce the rights of Americans. 

At hand is the question of if same-gender marriages are consistent with America.  Surely, we’ll be hearing a lot of people speaking out, claiming that it’s not Christian and therefore shouldn’t become law.  The “non-religious” argument that we have heard in the past (and that I expect to hear again soon is that same-gender marriages somehow besmirch the institution of marriage, making it somehow less respectful. 

The reality is that America is not a Christian nation.  It was never intended to be.  In fact, the first settlers migrated to America seeking the freedom to practice their religion without discrimination or pressure from the government.  For some reason, as we here “religious freedom” these days, it comes from people who respect no religions except their own.  This hypocritical approach is truly why we want to avoid a theocracy.  As so many of these critics will be quick to shoot down Muslim based governments, they turn around and try to get Christianity to be immortalized in our government. 

The reality is that any theocracy is corrupt because corrupt leaders will interpret the tenants of a religion to fit their own agenda.  If you think it cannot happen in Christianity, we can look at the Salem Witch trials as an example of “Christian Leaders” using fear and Bible thumping to murder of an estimated nine million women across Europe.  If you want a more recent example, look at the Ku Klux Klan, or even some of the more extreme right-wing conservative militant groups and mouthpieces who are quick to insist that their interpretation of the Bible is the only true Christianity. 

The US Constitution guarantees freedom of religion for all, regardless of faith.  But legislation such as the marriage equality act does not dictate how a church, or an individual has to feel about such marriages.  If a church interprets their holy scriptures to say that same-gender unions are sinful, that doesn’t change.  The church can choose not to perform or recognize same-gender marriages in their own organization, although I personally feel that this is sad since churches are supposed to be about accepting others and their imperfections, just as it cannot change my opinion that love in all forms is good and should be supported.

There are gray scales that come along with this legislation.  A baker refusing to work with a client due to their sexual orientation is one such example.  Honestly, if it is illegal to discriminate against people based on the color of their skin, it should be illegal to discriminate against sexual orientation as well.  And yet, on the other hand, I cannot imagine why a couple would even want to do business with a baker who is discriminatory rather than simply going to a more open business.  Because of the publicity this caused, the baker in question ended up with a lot of free money as people who supported their decision actually made donations to that baker. 

On the other hand, a clerk in a government office, at any level, should not be allowed to block the issuance of a wedding certificate based on sexual orientation.  To quote the Bible in such refusal is a clear violation of the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state.  We are starting to see these violations more frequently as pharmacists refuse to distribute certain medications such as birth control based on their religious convictions.  If somebody has such strongly held convictions that they cannot respect the opinions of others, they just shouldn’t be in the job they hold.  What the pharmacist holds to be a sin is not recognized as such by the client, and withholding such medications is a way of forcing the pharmacists’ religious beliefs onto the clients, and that, frankly, should not happen.

My congratulations to the outgoing Congress for passing this legislation.  I hope that any challenges to it fail, and I will always stand with my brothers and sisters in their right to live their lives as they see fits them best.  It’s time to let go of hatred and fear.

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