Okay, I know part 2 was supposed to be about immigration, but I couldn’t resist…
It’s been a while, but I can’t stay silent with the incredible spotlight being shined recently on the problem of homophobia in our country. My previous post discussed how people’s sense of entitlement leads them to feel that they should control the relationships of others. This post is about the general sense of homophobia in our country.
I have had many a heated discussion about President Obama’s support of gay marriage recently. Some have praised him for his support, some have condemned him as a liar who is just out for votes, and many have said they are happy he came out in support, but they recognize the timing. I’m not so naive as to believe that this is an actual call for support that doesn’t have something to do with the upcoming election; however, I can’t stand at the doorstep of a momentous occasion, where the tide of discrimination may be starting to change, and refuse to recognize the historic actions of President Obama.
Tonight, I was attempting to catch up on my recorded shows that were filling up my DVR. My wife turned on Harry’s Law. This show has been fantastic in its courage to confront some of the compelling and divisive issues facing our justice system today. Tonight, I was confronted with an episode in which a gay man was denied the opportunity to donate blood to his brother simply because he was gay. It is based on the reality that exists in our country today. In 1983, the decision was made to ban any man who has ever had sex with another man the right to donate blood. Thirty years later, that law still exists. A law based upon the fear of homosexuality and an epidemic that was attacking the gay community at the time. Now, we understand AIDS, and have the ability to screen for the disease within 12 days of contracting the virus. Donated blood is screened for the disease. Regardless, the question still exists on the blood donation questionnaire as to whether or not a man has had sex with another man. I saw the actor on Harry’s Law confront the judge with the following words which I found powerful, “We can’t get married in most states…we don’t have the same adoption rights…we die for this country in our wars, but had to endure ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Where does it end?! We get beat up and harassed. Where does it all stop? And where are you?! Where’s the court that’s supposed to stand up for the disenfranchised? Where are you?!…My brother is dying…and all I want to do is give him my blood to save him. And now, as he is bleeding out, now the law, which has been so silent when we needed you, now the law rears up to tell me that I can’t save him?! What country is this?!” This passionate plea hit me very hard. I’m going to approach this from two angles.
The first angle is one of my favorite, and most powerful perspectives. The legal question involves a couple of aspects of the Constitution. The first aspect is the violation of the First Amendment by passing a law that respects the establishment of beliefs of particular religions. There are some religions that accept same-sex marriage. These include the United Church of Christ, Reform Judaism, Quakers, the Metropolitan Community Church, and the Unitarian Universalists. Forcing these churches to deny a right that they specifically grant their believers is a clear violation of the First Amendment by supporting the religions who believe otherwise.
The second problem I have is the violation of the Equal Protection Clause. This is the text of that law:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
This law guarantees equal protection of the law to any person within the jurisdiction of the state. This includes the legal protection of marriage laws, adoption laws, and harassment laws – apparently, unless you are gay. I don’t remember reading that in the text of the Constitution, but it seems that many people feel it is implied. Or is that just their personal prejudice rearing its ugly head?
Now that I have attacked the legal problems with the homophobic trend in the U.S., (I think sufficiently enough to dispel any lingering doubt about the legal aspect of the homophobic laws) I will continue by attacking the religious aspect of homophobia. I will start with a concession. I am a Christian. I believe in the Bible and attend church. I do understand that the Bible specifies that homosexuality is a sin. I won’t even begin to argue that point. What I haven’t done is cling to that one, small fact as the entire basis of my belief system. Instead, I prefer to cling to the words of the man who is the basis of Christianity. To do this I will give you two passages from the Bible:
“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.’” Mark 12:28-31
This passage is a specific command by Jesus that, of the commandments given by God, one of the two most important is that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Would you deny yourself the opportunity for love? To see the one you love on their death bed? To spend the rest of your life with the person you love simply to make someone else feel better? To watch your loved one die because someone didn’t think your blood was clean enough to save them? I doubt it. So if you wouldn’t deny yourself that love, how can you call yourself a Christian if you deny your homosexual neighbor that love, in violation of the greatest commandments set forth by Jesus Christ? Will you have to answer to God for your refusal to love your neighbor as you love yourself?
The primary defense I get to the previous argument is that it is love that drives people to push this homophobic agenda. I respond to that defense with another command from the Bible:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2
This is pretty obvious. It is not our place to judge our fellow man. That is God’s job. In fact, I find it the epitome of arrogance to assume that we can stand in the shadow of God and pass judgment on our fellow men and women regardless of the fact that God specifically instructs us otherwise. Are you so pure that you can cast the first stone? Are you comfortable with the judgment that you are passing on your fellow man? Are you comfortable that you can pass the same scrutiny in your life when you stand before God and he looks at your transgressions? Are you comfortable with the fact that you will be judged based on the fact that you attempted to step into the shoes of your God and condemn someone for the love they had for another? If you answered yes to all of the questions above, then maybe you have a basis for your prejudice. However, I don’t think there is a person out there who could honestly pass that test.
The legal standings of this homophobic behavior are frail. The religious standings for it are even more flimsy. It has been dis-proven not only with the Constitution, but with the Word of God itself. I could go on forever, but I’ll leave you with a quick plea. Two days ago, I buried a cousin of mine who died defending the cause of freedom as a Marine. This man gave his life so that I could sit here and write this opinion. I feel it would be a poor memorial for him to discriminate against people whose Constitutional rights he died to defend. As far as religion is concerned…even if you believe it is a sin, the laws of man do not change the fact that homosexuality is a sin. If you give up your hatred and anger towards homosexuals, you will be following the commandments of Jesus Christ. You are in no danger of hell as long as you do not commit the sin of homosexuality. However, if you deny your neighbor the love you have for yourself and sit in judgment of him, you are, by the word of Jesus Christ, violating the very commandment of the Lord. So…look deep inside yourself and decide what you truly believe.