What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"The Religious Right is Flexing It's Might...."

(Clap, clap, clap, clap)

"Deep in the heart of Texas!"

Yesterday, while watching the local news something happened that rarely happens while watching the local news. I was given actual, relevant information that I cared about. And, in hearing this information I was struck by something even more rare for a show that generally seems lame and pointless, I was filled with two strong emotions. Those emotions were sadness and anger, two emotions that frequently accompany each other. The reason for these emotions was the passing of Proposition 2, a constitutional ammendment prohibitting the recognition of anything resembling a marriage when two people of the same sex are involved. The law already states that gay marriage is illegal.

What made me mad wasn't so much the fact that it passed. I thought that it might. What frustrated me was generally two things: That it passed by such a large margin (76%, 24%) and that I didn't vote myself.

As far as Proposition 2 passing, I'm not surprised. Texas is a conservative state and is increasingly voting along the Republican party line. But the fact that 75% of the people in Texas are so vehemently opposed to gays, not just gay marriage, that they will make it double illegal is disappointing and disheartening.

Texas is a great state. The people are friendly, curteous, and open. They will welcome any and all outsiders and keep them well fed and entertained. Texans are some genuine, kind people.

Unless you are gay or lesbian.

I can't imagine why someone would go out of their way to go vote for this amendment. The only people who have something to gain or loose in this election was the gays. On the one hand, Republicans within the Texas Government knew that this bill would pass. There was no way that they would have created and sponsored this bill unless they were absolutely confident of it passing. Imagine if it had been denied. It would essentially have been saying that Texas is okay with gay marriage and legalization of it wouldn't have been far behind. So in this way Texas Republicans were taking a slight risk by holding such an election. Why introduce the ammendment at all? Are Texans afraid of gay marriage being overturned in our state of conservative judges and rednecks?

Could it be that Texas lawmakers want to make it more difficult in the future to interpret laws as unconstitutional with regard to this issue? Future legaliztion of gay marriage isn't really a fear unless the state of Texas, whether it be lawmakers or citizens, decide later on that it should be legalized. At this point we will legalize gay marriage whether we have to get it out of the constitution or not. Essentially, the lawmakers of today are just giving the lawmakers of tomorrow more paperwork. The trend of society is to become more lenient and tolerant of others, giving our shrinking global community. It seems that those who came up with this ammendment realize that sooner or later, Texas is going to want to change the law to allow gay marriage. They are just being assholes by creating more hoops to jump through.

Which brings me to my next point. What kind of jackass would go out of his way to deny a right from another person. Well, the Ku Klux Klan made their presence known in Austin yesterday. They certainly want to take a stand on this issue.

But, what about the typical, non-hatefilled Texan who just simply finds the homosexual lifestyle to be sinful. Surely they don't hate gays but hate the act, right? Hate the sin, but love the sinner, and all that jazz. What could possibly compell a person like this to push for an amendment to the constitution to ban a practice that is already banned. Aside from the aforementioned likelyhood that if this ammendment was rejected legalizing gay marriage was next, I can't think of any reason. All this ammendment serves to do is further widen the socialogical gap between gays and mainstream culture. It is a slap in the face to gays, plain and simple. It is mainstream Texans saying to a minority, "We don't just oppose your lifestyle, we oppose you." What happened to loving the sinner?

Maybe you truly don't hate the sinner, then why vote for this rediculous bill? Did you vote on principle? It's as if any opportunity to show the world you are a Bible-thumping Christian can't just pass on by. The WWJD t-shirts and horribly cheesy bumper stickers aren't enough anymore, apperently. And, far be it from anyone within the fundamentalist Christian community to actually try acting like Christ!

Some might be wondering why I care so much, being that I'm not gay, and if gays or lesbians in Texas really wanted to get married, they wouldn't live in Texas. Besides, I didn't even vote. Well, I intended on voting, but actually thought the election was Thursday, completely forgetting the whole "Tuesday following the first Monday of November" thing. And, afterall this change doesn't really change anything, which we've already been over.

Then I started thinking, do I really want to vote on such an ammendment when I know it's going to pass, but also, in voting I'm validating the governments right to put such a vote on the ballot. The issue isn't really the legalization of gay marriage, while I would vote for legalization if the occasion arrose. It was about banning an already banned practice. I am primarily opposed to the proposition being on the ballot to begin with, not so much whether it should be legal. I guess what I'm so angry about is that 75% of the people of Texas don't have this small little chip of logic in their brains to allow them to realize that this proposition was inheritly defunct in the first place. Now, I don't want to pass judgement on everyone, because I don't understand the motives or reasoning behind every Texan's vote (which is why I don't pretend to pass judgement on homosexuals, by the way), but the truth is, I don't really believe that they are missing the logic, I think they just don't care. I think that the people who created and voted to approve this ammendment simply wanted another platform on which to shout their own self-righteousness. I may be wrong but that is what I truly believe. It was irresponsible, foolish and hateful to have such a change left to the general population. If you don't like the idea of gay marriage, then guys, don't marry a man! And ladies, don't marry a freakin' lady!

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force made a really good point:

"When you put a fundamental right of a minority up for popular vote, it's almost impossible to win. I'm not sure the right to desegregate schools, the freedom to marry another race or even access to contraception in many states would exist if those issues were put up for a vote."

I may have to rant about this issue again, but I think this entry is long enough. Thanks for your time.


Anonymous said...

So true! WE were talking tonight abou this problem. The Religious Right seems to have forgotten the principles unpon which it is founded, that being Love, Grace, and Hope. Hence tonights episode of Trading Spouses. It makes me at times want to shake a lot of people. Shake them real hard.

Wendy Bailey said...

Kyle ... as you know, it's more about politics than it is about religion or morals. I'm actually for getting the government out of the marriage business altogether. The state can allow people to enter into personal legal partnerships -- it may be two elderly friends sharing a home and calling each other next of kin or a variety of other possibilities. Everyone is equal. The covenant of marriage is really a spiritual bond, not a legal one. It should be entered into with the witness and blessing of a person's faith community. That's my two cents ...

Paige Robins said...

Hey Kyle, check out my latest blog and the resulting comments for some more food for thought on this issue. paigesspot.blogspot.com

marcus said...

kyle the point of this propostion was to make the ban constitutional. not to double ban it. not to be mean. and say "haha we hate you so much, you gays, that we are going to make this law out of spite, just because we can." this amendment was added so that a liberal judge in travis county doesn't start marrying a bunch of people and overturn the law passed by politicians. a judge can easily overturn almost any law. but he/she can't overturn the constitution. this is the political process. it's not about hate. it's about three equal branches of government. if we, as a state, decided to legalize murder, we could do it by adding a constitutional amendment. no judge or politician or governor could touch that until we, as a state, change our mind.

besides, why do you think gays should be allowed to marry? marriage is god's creation. do you think gay marriages honor god? i personally don't think so.

look we're in theatre. you have gay friends. i have gay friends. we both know gay people we care about. but does indulgence of a sinful life bring someone closer to god. no. my theory is that you reject the way they have chosen to live their life, you live the best life you can and you show them christ in that way. make no bones about what is sin and what isn't. but still be their friend and still love them. honesty and sincerity over indulgence and coddling. that's what i think.

Tucker said...

I don't think that people vote against this for the reasons you stated. I think they vote against it becuase they actually think that they can help the people by what they are doing. They are wrong. It happens.

This is an issue that will never be resolved on a general level. You can't talk in mass about it, you have to talk to people one on one, and so far I have only had one person talk to me about this who actually was interested in hearing what I had to say (and they changed my opinion on it BTW).

I don't mind the venting, but I think this is going to have to be a pay it forward type thing (especially in the church, which is where I think it has to start for us Christians).

But Matt in your quote is wrong. I don't think marriage is a right (or know what desegregate is) but contraception and interracial marriages would not only pass but I doubt that they would see much opposition.

MDH said...

I went out of my way to vote for Prop 2 because of my stance against polygamy. I had no idea it was such a "hot button" issue in the homosexual community.

(note my tongue firmly in my cheek)

Jason said...

I am thoroughly disgusted with many of my fellow Chrsitians right now. We have more Pharisees in our midsts than we seem to know. Read my post to find out what I mean.

Kyle said...

More and more my line of thinking is further in step with what Wendy says. If the state of marriage is a religeous institution then what business does the state have in recognizing heterosexual marriages or homosexual marriages. I know this would raise a million different legal question, which I don't know the answers to. But, since when is the Government a diety with the authority to either sanction or deny a spiritual right. It comes down to the separation of church and state, which is a concept that conservatives get sick of hearing, but we truly should have. Do we want a theocracy? If Christianity is the "state recognized religion, then that is what we have, even if, we still allow those other people to worship too (How nice of us).

Marcus, I responded to a blog yesterday and basically summed up my position on the matter. Here it is:

"But, I'm not saying that we should excuse homosexuality, I'm saying that we should give them the right to free choice as to who their going to spend the rest of their lives with. They deserve the right to sin, if that is in fact what it is, if they choose. They have the right to believe that it isn't a sin at all. They deserve the right to live in a society that isn't going to deny them the rights other couples have based solely on a religious principle. They deserve the right to make these choices, and not to have people like me make it for them: someone who has no clue what their heart looks like or how it feels to have the world tell me that I'm wrong for loving the person that I love."

There are many Christians, both gay and straight who don't think it is a sin to be gay. How, you ask? Well, I'm not really the person to ask, but this website could explain the issue much better than I. Or this one.

Of course you would be lying to say that some people don't just read into things what they want to hear, but an open mind reveals that you can't just blow these arguments off that easily.

Tucker said...

Kyle I don't think that you want those websites speaking for you. You can put up more coherent arguements than they do.

They say some good things, but thier interpretations seem pretty suspect (leaving out context after saying that Christians leave out context etc.).

Also an interesting thing to think about is Conservative and Liberal are political words and don't really apply to Christians. In Christians, a more accurate way to say it is that you are either textual or spiritual, which classifies the way that you look at the Bible. That determines your view of Christianity.

Kyle said...

Tucker, these websites don't speak for me. They are just examples of how a person could be a Christian and still not believe that homosexuality is a sin. You can imply what my personal beliefs are but, as far as I know I haven't revealed them.

I will say, though that the websites I linked do not represent me.

I will admit I was looking for a different website that I ran across yesterday and in a time crunch went with these two because they dealt with the issue. I really didn't search them very thouroughly.

Conseravtive and liberal are not political, though they can be interpreted that way. These terms can be used to describe two opposite stances on just about any issue because there are certain things that are understood as liberal (or allowing for more) and conservative (allowing for less).

marcus said...

i'm with tucker. i started to reply about those sites but then i read his comment. and yeah me too. amen.

i guess i don't understand how we, as christians, can be content to live in a world/nation full of sin and not feel some sort of compulsion to change it. think about the great commission.

also, christ was free from sin. not simply because he was god and didn't need to sin or was incapable of it. he was free from sin because he abhorred sin and couldn't be around it. and yes, he did surround himself with sinners, but did his disciples continue to deliberately sin. no. they aspired to be like christ. if we aspire to be like christ, we should have the same attitude.

of course, we will fail. but it is not the completion of this goal to which god calls us, but the repeated attempt.

marcus said...

i forgot to state that we should love our neighbors enough to spread the gospel to them and expect them to live a life of righteousness.

Paige Robins said...

Marcus, you're right when you say that we are not supposed to be content in a nation full of sinners and that we should think of the great commission. But the great commission says to go and make "believers," not just people who act like believers. We should be changing them by helping them become Christians, not just forcing them to act like Christians. And you're right that Jesus' disciples did not go on deliberately sinning, but they were his disciples, not every random person he met on the street. They had decided to follow him. Here, we're talking about people who have yet to make that decision and every time something like this happens, they harden their hearts a little more, taking them farther and farther from ever accepting Christ.

marcus said...

but part of our message about the good news should be freeing yourself from sin. you can't come to know christ when you are living in sin. i think it's impossible.

Kyle said...

From my experience the people who turn to God the most are those living in sin.

jocelyn said...

It is difficult to reconcile the tension between being a Christian and living in the world. In America, we tout our religious freedom and the fact that "all men are created equal" and yet we continue to try to legislate Christian (sexual) morality. I agree with Paige that the fruit of the Christian life is seen after someone has chosen to obey Christ. Why would/can/do we force people who have not chosen Christ to live like we want just to make us more comfortable?

This is obviously a sticky issue. If it were easily defined, then there wouldn't be a national debate about it. I, for one, am sick of Christian morality being reduced to sexual practices. The religious right continues to make homosexuality and abortion the major moral issues. But I believe that we as a nation are guilty of many other things that ought to be discussed. Isn't greed a moral issue? War? Lying? Torturing and abusing other people? How we treat the poor?

I'm not saying that I believe churches should sanction homosexual marriage. That is up to the elders/leaders of that church. But I do think it is lame to limit people's ability to be covered by their partner's health insurance, to make decisions about whether or not their partner should be taken off life support, or many other complex, personal rights that heterosexuals take for granted just because we might not understand or agree with who a person has chosen to love.

It is complex and multivalent. I struggle with knowing what to say and do about this and other related topics all the time. I pray that the Lord will guide us as we attempt to love other people in all that we do.

Kyle said...

Really well put, Jocelyn.

Paige Robins said...

The Bible makes is clear that one of the best things about the good news is that it came to us while we were still in sin.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." --Romans 5:8

Only those living in sin can accept Christ because if you have not accepted Him, regardless of what "sins" you are or are not committing, you are living in sin.

Tucker said...

Kyle, I didn't think that you were using the websites to speak for you, but I figured I would throw out the caution in case you ran into that time crunch again.

I think the most important part, that we can all agree on, is that we should show love to those that aren't Christians and preach them the good news of Jesus' forgiveness of our sins and our reconciliation with God. All that other stuff should be way later, but it seems we preach the other stuff first.

Kyle, I hate that you totally killed my comment record of 14.

Kyle said...

I know. Blog about my work in theatre and the books I'm reading and I get bupkis. Blog about homos and suddenly I'm the hottest thing since Zach Braff. Look at all those comments. I gotta get me some of that.

Dan Carlson said...

Well-written, Jocelyn. Although I think you made up "multivalent."

My beef with Christians who think gay marriage should be outlawed because gay marriages are not what God intended is: knock it off.

Why draw the line there? Why not go further? Many Christians, particularly throughout Texas and the South, believe that people should not engage in sexual relations or live together unless they are married. So why not try and turn that into a law? Why not tack on an amendment stating that having sex with someone you aren't married to is illegal? Do you lack the courage of your convictions to turn all of your dogma into law, or is it just the sight of two men holding hands that sends you running for the bomb shelters? It's a choice between hypocricy and insanity, and both of them make me ashamed to call some Christians my brothers. Ashamed, and sad.

Spiritual laws and societal good often intersect; "Thou shalt not kill" carries over pretty well. Murder is a violation of spiritual law by destroying something God created, and assuming to have the authority of God, and it's also illegal because killing someone tends to rob them of their basic right to, well, life, not to mention that legal killing would send society into turmoil. So yes, there are areas where spritual tenets and society's legality overlap.

But, ultimately, they're separate entities. And, though something like a bill enforcing the legality of interracial marriage might pass today, imagine trying to circulate the bill in Alabama 50 years ago.

Kyle, you've also surpassed my comment record, but to be fair, mine was pretty circumspect to begin with, as I've been known to log in under different names and congratulate myself.

Kyle said...

It's only ten unique entries. But it still makes me feel special. And yes, partly I'm still commenting to keep the toll climb going.

Tucker said...

Daniel, great point. Christians, to arms! All non-marital sex should be outlawed!

Matthew said...

... Ok, you got me. What's the bright spot?

Kyle said...

I forgot what I was referring to. Sorry.

Matthew said...

Bummer. Well, there's a new post on my blog re the same topic. Maybe you'd like to contribute a bright spot of your own.

(BTW, I think you posted that anniversary picture to let us all know that your wife is exceptionally hot. No offense intended, of course.)

Kyle said...

Yes. Any time you see her on my blog it's because I'm bragging. No offense taken. Just realize that her dad reads this blog.

Jason said...

I'm just flabergasted that the Religious "Right" has pounced on this issue, as if it really matters.

What about the destruction of the environment? What about domestic poverty (not to mention hunger and poverty around the world)? What about ethics in business and politics? The fact that these issues are politically ignored by the "right" and homosexuality gets so much attention highlights hypocricy within Chrisitanity.

We must look at the Gospels for our spiritual priorites. Essentially, Jesus says to love and honor God first, and take care of humanity second. Homosexuality, judgementalism, legalism, and legislating morality don't even seem to make the list.

Ron said...

Wow Kyle! Great post, and great discussion! Obviously, I have a few points to make myself.

First, it wasn't 75% of Texans who voted to constitutionalize the gay marriage ban; rather, it was 75% of the people who showed up to vote, and if history is any indicator, it was probably a pretty small percentage of the electorate that actually made it to the polls because it was an off year election--furthermore, the electorate only comprises a certain percentage of the overall population, anyway. That is, this vote doesn't at all mean that Texas is rabidly homophobic--generally, only the extremists come out in droves during off years, and in Texas, there are more right wing extremists than left wing extremists. Although, what I'm saying doesn't rule out the probability that Texas is homophobic. I mean, I lived there for 36 years myself; I know what's up...

Second, I think the reason for the double ban is just to make it harder to legalize in the future: pretty soon, a gay couple married in Massachusetts is going to move to Texas (this is inevitable) and demand to have their marriage recognized. The US Constitution says that the states must recognize contracts made in other states. This is obviously going to go to the Supreme Court some day, and I think the anti-gay extremists want to be ready for it, thus the amendment.

Finally, Paige Robbins makes a great comment:

We should be changing them by helping them become Christians, not just forcing them to act like Christians.

I, personally, don't understand what good it will do anybody from the Christian perspective to demand that Christian morality be codified into law. That is, following the law won't get anybody into Heaven, so what's the point? There are good secular reasons for all kinds of laws, like against murder or theft, but not against homosexuality or gay marriage. There are no victims for these "crimes" between consenting adults, and, therefore, no reason to ban them.

I would also add that I simply don't understand why anybody who is not a Christian should be held to Christian morals. That is, I'm not gay, but if I was, why would I care at all what the Bible says about gay marriage? As a "secular humanist" I could care less what the Bible says about morality, because I don't believe it is the word of God. Granted, I believe the Bible does, indeed, contain many moral truths, as well as moral atrocities, but I also believe that these ideas came from men who were not inspired by God. The Bible has no hold over me, so I don't understand why I should be bound by its edicts. So far the best explanation I've heard is something to the effect of "take my word for it." That's just not enough for me to make life altering decisions.

Anyway, sorry to go on for so long, Kyle, but this is a good discussion, and I just had to jump in. Here's some more commentary on my own blog about your post.

Kyle said...

I wanted to have 30 comments.