A key to understanding something written or said by someone else is understanding the context in which it was written or spoken. For example, to fully understand the Constitution, you have to learn about the lives and times of the authors and the people they wrote the document for. Those things framed the meanings of their words. In a similar fashion, to understand the Scriptures, you have to understand what the words meant to the hearers. That’s why theologians study Greek, Hebrew, and ancient near eastern history. The same practice holds true for understanding the Black Lives Matter movement as a white person. Study history, both recent and that of the early years of this country. Research the failed social engineering attempts of forced bussing and building the projects. Learn about the impact that the gentrification of the inner cities is having on people. Read literature such as Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Read Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and write down a list of the injustices he mentioned. Watch a movie like The Help (or read the book) and continually remind yourself that it was set in 1963. Listen, I mean really listen, to the album Anomaly by Lacrae. Learn the truth about Margaret Sanger and the anti-black sentiment she held as she founded Planned Parenthood. Most importantly, ask a black person that you know to explain what the movement means to him or her. Then, and only then, put feet to your convictions and become part of the solution, for if you don’t, you’re just part of the problem.
I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I’ve invested a good amount of time in this issue. I don’t need to reiterate what others have said about the intricacies of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Simply started, the Equal Protection clause states that all Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law, period. What bears stating is the legal precedent in referencing the Fourteenth. Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there were “Jim Crow” laws in the southern states that required the states, under law, to segregate based on race. Facilities were supposed to be “separate but equal.” They rarely were equal. President Woodrow Wilson, an overt racist, practiced gross discrimination. The equally overt racist Democrats of the late 1800s through the mid 1960s did everything possible to undermine the anti-segregationist policies of the Republicans. The southern states felt their state sovereignty allowed them to discriminate within the borders of their states. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth was the constitutional basis for the federal government to overrule state sovereignty because the federal government is responsible for ensuring all citizens get equal protection under the law. Given the preponderance of states that have marital equality laws, it was not, in my mind, a far stretch to apply the same principles that shot down Jim Crow. What the Fourteenth does not touch is the right of people that are not agents of the state from discriminating except in areas such as housing and employment. This ties into the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. By law and practice, churches are not agents of the state. Congress cannot force a non-agent to act. I am an ordained minister. I cannot be compelled to perform any service for anyone. I don’t know the individual laws of every state where marital equality is the law, but I can tell you that Maryland’s law is well-crafted and explicitly protects the clergy. Here is the text of Question 6, the public referendum for marital equality in Maryland,
“Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.”
I am a libertarian. I voted for Question 6 even though I will not personally perform a same-sex ceremony. I am not discounting what I believe to be the biblical truth on the topic. I am standing behind the right of two people to enter into a legally binding contract, which in the eyes of the state, is what marriage is.
The reason we have this mess is that our bloated government stuck its nose into marriage, a thing formerly under the scope of religious bodies. It chose to grant legal privileges to married couples. Once it did that and the individual states began to legalize same sex marriage, it was inevitable that it would have to respond.
Before we are too quick to respond to this ruling, think of where America would be if Jim Crow was still in existence.
I wanted to read an article on Tam O’Shaughnessy, Sally Ride’s partner for 27 years. I found a really great one at http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/365992/20120723/tam-shaughnessy-oshaughnessy-sally-ride-lesbian-partner.htm. I call it great because it didn’t make the fact that Sally was a lesbian a big deal. It focused on her partner and the great work she and Sally did. There was one sentence way of the end of the article that said, “Though Sally Ride was open about her partnership with Tam O’Shaughnessy, it does not appear to have been a controversial topic.” I was getting ready to make a response commending the author for simply stating facts and not trying to capitalize on Sally’s death. Then I came across a person that I will call, “John Q. Public.” He wrote the following:
I’m very saddened about Sally’s death. She was a fantastic woman and a great contribution to society. It’s way too bad that people from the Religious Right are so bigoted towards gays and lesbians. May they read and educate themselves what gays and lesbians have contributed to our society. Rest in Peace Sally!!!
John Q. is a perfect example of closed-minded open-minded people. I wrote this in response:
To borrow your words, “It’s way too bad that people like John Q. Public are so bigoted toward religious conservatives.” It’s also too bad that you tarnished a beautiful article that treated Sally’s sexuality as just another part of who she was instead of making a big deal out of it. I’m a religious conservative and an ally. You see, my conservatism dictates that the government has no right to barge into people’s affairs and determine which adults of consenting age may enter into a contract. My theology is my own theology which I am entitled to. I’d be a hypocrite if I wanted my liberty and wouldn’t give bigots like you your liberty. Whenever you say “all _______” and fill in the blank with an ethnic group, faith group, geographically defined group, etc., you are being a bigot. Would you ever say, “all Jews,” or “all Muslims, or “all Asians,” or “all New Yorkers?’ If not, you should seek a worldview of understanding and liberty instead of letting people be free unless it cramps your style.
Here is a homework assignment: find out who Fred Karger is and look up a group called “The Log Cabin Republicans.” You’ll find that your incorrect stereotypes don’t fit. One last thing, look up the political party of the president that signed the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act.
FYI, Fred Karger is an openly gay Republican that was on Ronald Reagan’s staff. He was the first person to throw his hat in the ring for the 2012 presidential election. The Log Cabin Republicans is a group of openly gay people that hold to traditional Republican platform issues such as reduced government, responsible spending, and a government that makes sure everyone has opportunities to succeed instead of giving them success at taxpayer expense. The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by William Jefferson Clinton, a Democrat.
Afterword: Just in case anyone doubts that the International Business Times semi-censored me, here is proof:
So it is OK for one person to write that the Religious Right are bigots but it’s not OK for me to write that people who make broad-brush comments are bigots?
By the way, the rating on my post is now five in favor and three against. It seems that maybe the International Business Times needs to listen to its readers a bit more.
All men wade through the waters of time at the same speed.