Tag Archives: same sex marriage

What Jesus Wants – Love Your Gay Neighbors

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I grew up in a Christian church and one of the biggest lessons I learned while I was there was love. I was taught that Jesus was the type of man who hung out with thieves, prostitutes, and the poor and loved each one of them in the same way he loved others. I was also taught that our place is not to judge others lest we be judged ourselves. The whole “he who casts the first stone” lesson.

The U.S. supreme Court decision on Friday that supported the right of same-sex couples to marry created much joy in the hearts of those who have been in support of equal rights for gay people. Those supporters include individuals from all walks of life. For those individuals, the fight has always been about love, not about any hidden “gay agenda” and definitely not about discrimination or hatred.

Mixed in with all the love and celebration of that decision came a strong dose of fear-based, judgemental, and at times hate-filled words. While those reactions were expected from the clearly bigoted, hateful groups of individuals who still exist in our country, it was disappointing to see some of these same reactions coming from people who claim to be “Christians.” The response was not Christ-like from a space of non-judgment and love. On the contrary, it was harsh, judgmental, and oft-times hateful.

There seems to be a great misunderstanding amongst some Christians (note I said “some” not “all”) of the Fundamental, Evangelical, or Conservative persuasions, that you cannot be gay and be a Christian. They take a stance of “us against them.” The “righteous against the sinners.” The “good against the bad.” The “moral against the immoral.” What an unfortunate, disillusioned, and limiting stance. In reality, a great number of gay people are indeed Christian. They go to church, they hold Bible studies, they pray for your souls, they feed and clothe the hungry. There are also Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Agnostics, Sikhs, Atheists, Wiccans, etc.; the same mix of faiths and belief systems as the rest of our wonderful country.

We are all human beings. We all deserve love. We all deserve equal rights no matter what our religious or spiritual stance may be. Basic human rights has absolutely nothing to do with your religion. We all should have equal protection under the law. The law of our country is not the Bible or God’s law. It is the Constitution. If the law of the land were based on one religion, then that would impede on the rights of others who choose to believe something different.

Gay people were given the Constitutionally protected right to marry the person they love. This in no way, shape or form infringes upon your right to choose who you will marry. It in no way, shape, or form infringes on your right to choose the religion you want to practice. You can still go to your churches, still read your Bibles, still pray for the souls of those you care about. Nothing has changed except for a new challenge to your own hearts. Acceptance.

We all have the opportunity right now to choose love and acceptance. There has been way too much judgment, hatred, fear, and misunderstanding surrounding the issue of gay rights coming from all sides. It’s past time for all who call themselves “Christians” to be the example and reflect how Jesus would want us to be. He would expect nothing less than for us to love one another in both word and deed and cast all judgment aside.

Love always wins.

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Love Wins

In the end love always wins…

   

  
  


Whether You Like it or Not, Baby We Were Born This Way

Freedom to Marry

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2011. All rights reserved

There is an ugly undercurrent of self-righteous bigotry flourishing in this country. It cloaks itself beneath the veil of “Christianity” and vehemently spreads the message “being gay is not okay.” Those who subscribe to this belief will do anything to push their ultra-conservative agenda in an attempt to withhold equal rights for homosexual’s. All this in the name of “God.”

But their religion and their politics are based on fear; far more than on reality. The fear of God. The fear of liberal thought. The fear of freedom for the masses to live their lives as they so please. And most obviously a deep fear of the unknown. This fear of the unknown leads straight to misunderstanding and paranoid assumptions about certain individuals and groups of people who do not subscribe to their own personal belief systems.

Like a small child when faced with a shadow in the darkness, these fearful minds blow the shadow out of proportion as it morphs into an enormous monster poised to ravage and consume their well-being. This paranoia has led to the creation of a myth used only to embolden their cause: “gay marriage would destroy traditional marriage.” They have also come to the conclusion being gay is an abomination and a sin that is carried out by choice.

So they “counsel” gay individuals and send them the message that being gay is wrong and is an abomination in God’s eyes. They pick and choose certain passages from their Bible to drive home their fear-filled message. They get together with these “lost souls” and try their darndest to pray the gay away. That will surely fix the problem.

But it doesn’t.

And they continue to do this even though the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association have both agreed that being gay is not a choice, but is inherent at birth.

Dismayed that their prayers have not eradicated the gays, they back political candidates who will push their personal agenda in an attempt to derail laws and court cases that support the inalienable rights of all people.

Fortunately, this minority of far-right, ultra-conservative, paranoid, gay-hating, bigots (yes, I said it) do not represent the majority of people in our country who believe in an all-loving God.

Several mainline denominations such as the Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Methodist have come out in strong support of gay rights. Now the United Church of Christ has made a statement in support of gay marriage. The Presbyterian church recently voted to amend its church rules to allow ordination of gay people who are in committed same-sex unions. Though he still believes being gay is a sin, Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the Southern Baptist Convention’s leading voices, spoke recently of the “need for Evangelicals and Southern Baptists to repent (i.e., apologize for) their homophobia.”

Popular approval of gays and gay marriage continues to grow exponentially and has become the majority view in this country. DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) – that quirky sweep your truth under the pillow and smother it because we don’t want to have to deal with it military rule – was recently overturned. Now DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage, has been deemed unconstitutional in a recent same-sex couple bankruptcy case and the Justice Department has stated it will no longer defend it in court.

The walls they are a crumbling and soon we will look back in disdain on this time period in our history when gay people suffered blatant discrimination at the hands of those who refused to believe in equal protection for EVERYONE.

All you far-right, ultra-conservative, paranoid, gay-hating, bigots can continue to get down on your knees and plead with your big, dark, scary God and try your hardest to pray the gay away while wasting your millions in support of candidates who carry your religious conservative agenda with them to the ballot box. But I have a feeling you will not get very far. You see, our Nation was not built to defend bigotry but to protect the inalienable rights of all its citizens, including those who do not subscribe to your own personal belief system and practice of religion.

For those of you who fall into the category of “misinformed sheep” and do not feel you are truly “haters”, I implore you to search outside your protective little boxes in order to seek out truth instead of falling into the pattern of “yes” men and women. Stretch a bit outside your manipulated reality and try for one minute to see these “sinners” as not so different from yourself. You both want love, support of family, friends, a good career, children, happiness. Many of those gay people you are praying for are at the same time in church praying for you.

There are many people who believe in an all-accepting, all-loving God who is much more pleasant to pray to than some ugly monster in the closet. These people say He is a God of love who makes no mistakes. They also say He created each one of us in His own image.

Whether you like it or not, gay people are here to stay, and baby we were born this way.


Watching Ugly Giants Fall

Prop 8

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2011 All rights reserved.

There are certain issues in our country that become blown out of proportion the minute one belief system is challenged by its opposite.

Belief systems are religious, philosophical or ideological thought processes that drive the personal choices made by human beings. Nothing more; nothing less. Belief systems can vary greatly and may be molded and influenced by one’s familial upbringing; by one’s personal life experiences.

Imagine for a second if each of us were allowed to run amok in the effort to defend our own individual belief systems. Chaos would undoubtedly ensue. It would be tribe of believers of one thing pitted against tribe of believers of another. There would be arguing. There would be accusations. There would be dirty, contemptuous mudslinging. And on occasion there would be blood spilled for the purpose of defending one’s beliefs.

Oh wait, that actually happens already.

So when big arguments ensue based on personal belief systems, ergo personal choices, and a group of like-minded people who share the same beliefs attempt to control or quash these groups or individuals who make certain choices based on the opposite belief system, is there a system in place that serves to protect the freedom of choice for that group or individual?

You betcha. It’s called the Federal court system.

There is no inherent right or wrong until one weighs a set of beliefs and choices made in light of some accepted form of moral or legal compass. In our country, the accepted compass is a legal compass. The Federal court system becomes the protector of individual freedoms and the slayer of ugly giants who attempt to tread on said freedoms that are enforced by said court.

“The federal court system deals with issues of law relating to those powers expressly or implicitly granted to it by the U.S. Constitution, while the state court systems deal with issues of law relating to those matters that the U.S. Constitution did not give to the federal government or explicitly deny to the states.” (United States Courts)

So when certain ugly giants decide to stomp on life choices made by groups who subscribe to opposite belief systems, sometimes those ugly giants do everything in their power to prevent those groups or individuals from living their life in the way they have chosen, and a conflict ensues.

Quite often the ugly giants spout claims that the life choices of those who ascribe to opposite belief systems from their own are harmful to specific institutions or individuals.

Take interracial marriage for example. Prior to 1967 (yes just a mere 44 years ago), the ugly giants of certain States had decided it was unlawful for white people to marry non-white people. The ugly giants created this law in response to interracial marriages that began to occur across the Nation. The presumption was interracial marriage would be harmful to society and ran counter to moral turpitude. But this ugly giant fell when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that “Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Note the Court did not base their ruling on a set of religious beliefs nor on an interpretation of the document that supports those particular beliefs, the Bible. Instead they based their ruling on the single document and its subsequent Amendments that is used to weigh in on matters of the protection of individual rights in this Country, the U.S. Constitution. The Amendments of which clearly separate Church and State.

No matter what one believes, which religion one practices or what set of moral values one adheres to, in the end it is purely a matter of the law.

A very big question comes to my mind when I mull the motivation behind this ugly giant that tried to put a stop to interracial marriage. How in the world would the personal choice a white man made to marry a black woman have a harmful effect on the citizens of the rest of our country? Did their personal choice harm the marriage or family of any other couple in the U.S.? Without a doubt the answer is a resounding no. So what truly motivated the ugly giants of Virginia and other like-minded entities to charge people with felonies and imprison them for marrying who it was they loved and desired to marry? This was in no way about upholding religious morality. It was ruled discriminatory and it smelled of bigotry. Plain and simple.

That same bigotry and discrimination continues to this day as the ugly giants attempt to quash the rights of groups and individuals who think and act differently than they do.

Take gay marriage for example. The ugly giants used a tool called Proposition 8 in order to keep a person of one sex from making the choice to legally marry a person of the same-sex. The campaign to pass that particular Proposition was pushed clearly by the claim and unfounded fear that gay marriage would be a direct threat to traditional marriage and family values so it was imperative the State define marriage as only between one man and one woman.

Hmmmm…this smells so stinking familiar.

Fortunately, Proposition 8 was struck down on appeal at the Federal (District) Court level. When weighing its merits against such precedent setting cases as Loving v. Virginia, the Court recognized discrimination based yet again on the violation of both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Ugly giants don’t always fall that easily. In order to save ugly face, they will continue to pursue appeal by grasping at straws even though the merits of their case are not Constitutionally sound. This was apparent in their feeble attempt this week to have Judge Walker’s Prop 8 decision overturned in light of the fact he is a gay man. They argued Walker should have recused himself from hearing the original case because of his sexual orientation. If that were reason to recuse, then an African-American judge should never hear a case on racial discrimination; a female judge should never rule on a case involving women’s rights; a divorced judge should never make a decision in a divorce case; a Christian judge should never rule on a case that involves the division of Church and State; a woman who was raped or sexually abused should never serve as a judge in a rape or abuse case; and a straight, married judge should be disqualified from presiding over a Prop 8 trial because he would conceivably have an interest in protecting his own marriage.

Yes, I know. It’s ludicrous.

Fortunately, the legal compass has once again weighed in on the side of the underdog. Judge Ware released his ruling on the plaintiff’s attempt to overturn Judge Walker’s Prop 8 decision this sunny Tuesday afternoon. Walker’s ruling has been upheld. Upheld in a court of law where the important decisions that affect the freedoms and liberties that have been granted to all citizens are made in our country. Not in a church, not in a school, not at a rally that boasts signs of hatred and contempt; but in a court of law where ugly giants are most often put to death.

Let the absurdities continue. I have no doubt, like all the ugly giants before it, this one too shall fall one day for good. And when it does I will be watching and cheering, and its demise will create a resounding echo that will be heard around the globe. And maybe. Just maybe. The ugly giants will finally learn to live and let live.


Love Will Prevail

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2010.

It’s sad to me that we can’t live in a time and space that simply allows us to love. Love for the sake of loving, without fear of judgment or of condemnation.  Instead, a large majority of the human race chooses to place  people in boxes stamped boldly with labels of “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad”.  I suppose it’s simply for the sake of attempting to control the behavior of those who cause them to feel uncomfortable.  An attempt to stifle those who choose to believe something outside of their own narrow-minded dogma.  Judgment provides a feeling of power, helping them to feel steps above those whom they condemn.  Maybe they should stop for a moment and take a long, hard look at their own lives before casting the first stone and ask themselves the question “Am I coming from a place of love or of hate?”

What saddens me even more, is the fact that we as individuals allow other people to place us in these boxes in the first place.  Out of fear of their opinion, some of us shove our honest feelings and desires into the darkest recesses of our souls, and hide them behind a whitewashed exterior.  We become victims yet one more time, giving over our right to feel and to express those feelings, to those who would choose to mold us into clones of themselves, in order to empower their own positions.

If what we feel, comes from a place of love, and does not hold the intention of hurt nor harm, then how can it be “wrong” or “bad”?  We are simply hurting ourselves by allowing others to limit our potential for fullness.

Our society has existed a long time with its definition of “normal”.  This cotton-candy picture of the white-picket fence, husband and wife and 2.5 children, is presented to us the minute we leave the womb.  We are funneled in the direction of this existence by all aspects of our world, “told” that this is simply the way it works.  So, we marry, we have children, we co-exist in these “perfect”, “normal” unions, shoving our problems into the closets behind the walls of our two-story stucco homes.  We work hard at creating the illusion that all is normal with our happy family, for the sake of avoiding judgment and condemnation.  But are we being true to our souls?

In our journey into adulthood, how often were we provided with the opportunity to honor our own feelings, desires and choices?  To give our feelings a voice?  For most of us, that right was stolen.  We were used, we were abused, we were told what to think, what to feel, what to do.  Though that voice of the true child inside of us tickled our tummies with butterflies, in an attempt to grab our attention, we ignored her out of fear and the belief that the things she whispered to our hearts were “wrong” or “bad”.

We simply do not love enough in this world in which we exist.  We swim daily in this massive sea of needy people and we refuse to recognize each other.  Walking stiffly and selectively blinded by fear.  We all, as human beings, whether men or women, have an inherent need to be loved, to be touched, to be understood.  Without these things, we simply curl up and die.  A piece of human skin the size of a quarter contains more than three million cells, fifty nerve endings and three feet of blood vessels.  Yet, through the abuses of our world we learn to shut down and numb those incredible senses, afraid to heed the natural physiological need to have them stimulated.

In comparing our culture to others in the world, we fail miserably in our attempt to bridge the gap of the human spirit. One study shows this contrast by the number of touches exchanged by pairs of people sitting in coffee shops around the world.  In San Juan Puerto Rico, people touched 180 times an hour; in Paris France, 110 times an hour; in Gainesville Florida, 2 times an hour; in London, England, they never touched.

To me, there is something terribly wrong with a society that appears so neurotic in regards to the much-needed gesture of touching.  Yet we fall victim to the mandates of this emotionally crippled dictatorship, handing those who buy into it, the power to choose who we should and should not touch, let alone love.

It saddens my heart that we’ve lived stolen lives.  Instead of honoring who we are as unique individuals and experiencing what we feel and desire as our own truth, we instead live someone else’s truth.

If only to love for the sake of loving.  To touch when moved to touch, without fear of judgment, honoring the need for expression of soul.  If only to live the truth of oneself, empowered, and never again to be funneled away and stripped of our true desires.  To be strong enough to claim our lives as we live them, creating our own world, our own existence.  Being open to all who surround us, breathing in their lessons, spitting out the parts that we choose not for ourselves.  But more than all, being open to love, in any form that it might touch us.  Allowing our souls to be embraced by those who would choose to love us, not for who they want us to be, but simply, for whom we are.


Love…A Case for Same Sex Marriage

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2010.

Photo: Participants in the Harvey Milk Day Rally and March, Sacramento, CA.

I sat on my couch yesterday nursing a bad head cold as I followed a live blog that fed directly from the Federal Courthouse in San Francisco.  The closing arguments for Perry et al. v Schwarzenegger et al. were finally being heard by Judge Vaughn Walker following a three-week trial held earlier this year.  The Plaintiffs aim in this case was to overturn voter approved Proposition 8 which invalidated the California Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed same-sex marriage in the State.

I was moved to follow this trial for a multitude of reasons.  The first being my deep love of Constitutional law which was embedded in my soul by my 8th grade Civics teacher Mrs. Herman.  Since that class, I had always harbored the secret dream of becoming a judge and was encouraged by my mother’s insistence I could out argue any lawyer on this earth.  I ultimately took the LSAT, applied to several law schools though never committed, became a Paralegal and worked for multiple attorneys in various disciplines.  Over time I came to realize that law was just not the perfect fit for me and moved on to pursue my more artistic passions.  The second motivator for me for following this trial so closely is far more personal in nature.  It is a motivation in the purest sense; love.

The push to get Proposition 8 placed on the ballot and passed was backed by a somewhat shady group who feared gay marriage would threaten the sanctity of heterosexual marriage in our country.  This group behind the push, the Mormon Church, vehemently denied a role in the Prop 8 campaign until recently being fined for political malfeasance.  The Church failed to report $36,928 of contributions to the Yes on 8 campaign.  Prior to the election, when questioned by ABC-San Francisco about their involvement in the Prop 8 campaign, Don Eaton, spokesman for the Mormon Church stated, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put zero money in this.”  Arrogant lies that were later exposed with the truth the Mormon Church was deeply embedded in this campaign to stop gay marriage to the tune of more than half of the $45 million that funded the Yes on 8 campaign.  In addition to these embarrassing realities, the Church’s front organization (NOM) National Organization for Marriage, is being investigated for money laundering and failing to file required campaign reports in the state of Maine for the state’s Question 1 campaign which took away the right of gays to be married in Maine.  It is also believed they have been involved with 30 other state same-sex marriage battles.

But I digress.  This post is not meant simply to bash the Mormon Church, their blatant lies, hypocrisy and seedy underhanded attempts to derail yet another equality movement in this country, nor is it to speak directly to their history of prejudice.  Furthermore, I am not about to touch on their historically poor treatment of women, of African-Americans,  nor on  their history of [gasp] polygamous marriage and sexual abuse through the act of marrying off its own young female children to men for the sake of “procreative” intercourse.

No, the focus of this blog is to touch on the reason the Prop 8 trial came about in the first place.  The defenders of Prop 8 have a fear.  A deeply embedded, irrational, and unfounded fear.  Their fear is based in the belief that marriage  should be preserved for procreation only and is the sole means to provide children with that perfect model of a mother and a father, of male and female.  And of course we all know that heterosexual marriages in this country are perfect incubators of ethical behavior in children.  What with the high percentage of alcoholism, wife abuse, child sexual abuse, extramarital affairs, and divorce in our country, why would anyone think otherwise?  I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have had two mothers than the father I had to put up with in my “traditional family”.  But that is a different blog post altogether.

As argued in the trial yesterday, Charles Cooper for the Prop 8 defense exhibited skewed logic when he insisted “The marital relationship is fundamental to the existence and survival of the race.  Without the marital relationship, your honor, society would come to an end.”   So, in essence, Mr. Cooper, allowing gay people the right to marry other gay people will destroy heterosexual marriage and in effect wipe out all of society?  Really?  Something tells me heterosexuals have already played a far more prevalent role in undermining the sanctity of marriage prior to a single gay couple ever stating a marriage vow in our country.  No worries, there are plenty of heterosexual people still having babies out-of-wedlock [gasp] and through in-vitro fertilization without a known partner [double gasp] who will continue to supply a steady stream of additional plebes.   The sole purpose of these births will be to repopulate our doomed society when all the heterosexuals marriages suddenly dissolve in this country after same-sex marriage is deemed legal and as a result wipes out any hope of “responsible procreation”.  I know, the whole thing is silly, isn’t it?

Let the truth be known.  The Yes on 8 campaign propaganda prior to the vote never once mentioned the preservation of responsible procreation as a reason to deny same-sex marriage.  That would have been laughable by the majority of consenting adult voters, most of whom have probably had “irresponsible procreation” at some point in their life outside of marriage, heterosexual or otherwise.  No, the brochures and voters guides chose instead to touch on a nerve that has a way of springing each one of us into action, no matter what our sexuality.  It has to do with our children.  The Prop 8 campaign turned and twisted reality and once again played on unfounded fears in order to garner votes.  Our children needed to be protected from these scary gay people who were out to recruit them.  If gays were allowed to be married, then our children would view it as being “okay to be gay.”  Gasp!  But gays are not okay…there is something inherently “wrong” with them.  Isn’t there?

Hmmmm…take a whiff of the past for a second (the not-so-long-ago past may I remind you) and imagine if you will, what interracial marriage might do to our children and to our race, er um, I mean our society if it was allowed to occur in our country?!  Funny thing, the defense in this trial never once brought up the argument of gay marriage having any negative influence on our children in court.  Most likely because they knew beyond a reasonable doubt, it would be massacred as discriminatory animus.  It would scream homosexuals are a “suspect class” and the plaintiffs would have a field day with shouts of “blatant discrimination!”  They chose instead to lean heavily on the heterosexual tradition of marriage based on the importance of “responsible vs. irresponsible procreation.”  So, they chose to beat a dead horse instead, I suppose…

The plaintiff’s attorney, Conservative Republican Ted Olson [wait, a Conservative Republican arguing for gay marriage, you say?],  argued the case not from a premise of unfounded fear, but instead on the basis of its Constitutionality.  “The Supreme Court has said that:  Marriage is the most important relation in life.  Now that is being withheld from the plaintiffs.  It is the foundation of society.  It is essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness.  It’s a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights and older than our political parties.  One of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause.  A right of intimacy to the degree of being sacred.  And a liberty right equally available to a person in a homosexual relationship as to heterosexual persons.  Marriage, the Supreme Court has said again and again, is a component of liberty, privacy, association, spirituality and autonomy.  It is a right possessed by persons of different races, by persons in prison, and by individuals who are delinquent in paying child support.  It is the right of individuals, not an indulgence dispensed by the State of California, or any state, to favored classes of citizens which could easily be withdrawn if the state were to change its mind about procreation.  In other words, it is a right belonging to Californians, to persons.  It is not a right belonging to the State of California.  Heterosexual persons can marry the person of their choice.  If they are a child molester, if they are a wife beater, if they are in prison for 15 murders, they can marry the person of their choice if they are heterosexual.”

Because they have a fundamental right to do so based on our Constitution.  Yet in reality, homosexuals are treated differently in this respect and are not allowed to take part in that basic fundamental right, which does in essence make them a “suspect class”.  This is nothing less than discrimination.

The State is taking away a fundamental Constitutional right that was never in its history based on procreation alone…nor was that fundamental right ever meant to discriminate against a group of people (“suspect class”) feared by a few in a select class who chose to spin unfounded non-truths into the hearts and minds of voters in order to keep this group separated from the inalienable right to marry.

To me the argument should alone be based on love.  But pardon me for being so foolish to think that love would ever have anything to do with marriage in the first place.

©Tracy J. Thomas, 2010.