This week was pretty significant for both supporters and opponents of gay rights. First, North Carolina successfully passed a state constitution-changing amendment banning same-sex marriages (as well as potentially limiting civil unions). Those that supported it said it was a victory for the sanctity of marriage.
On the other side of the argument (and most likely in direct response to North Carolina), President Obama finally did what many gay-rights advocates have long been hoping he would: he took a stand on the matter and said that he believes in same-sex marriage.
As someone with several very close gay friends, I have long believed that gays and lesbians deserve the same rights that a marriage provides my wife and I. We were ecstatic when New York passed the law recognizing same-sex marriages last year. It's my hope someday to attend the weddings of these wonderful people.
But of course, not everyone is happy. For alot of folks, the word "Gay" is just as horrible as -- or synonymous with -- "Cancer."
I got into a short, but intense online debate with someone who feels this way. During our conversation, his first point was to "take religion out of the equation" and pose the 'fact' that nature simply dictates that for the human race to survive, there must be a male and female having sex and procreating. 'Anything else is simply goes against nature.' was his argument.
Goes against nature? Scientists have observed nearly 1,500 different species of organisms on this planet, from worms to dolphins to primates, engaging same-sex relationships. This isn't 'gay agenda' nonsense. These are honest to goodness studies done on the creatures of this planet.
Scientists have also taken great strides in the study of homosexuality, with a majority of them concluding that it is in fact inherent, and not a choice. During a conversation with one of my good friends -- who make no mistake is proud to be gay -- he said to me "Do you think I would choose to be persecuted, shunned by family, or risk being attacked on a daily basis? I cannot change who I am."
Think about it. No one questions our heterosexuality. Being straight isn't a choice for us. And yet so many people continue to insist that gay men and women are making a choice to live this way.
Back to that debate, where my opponent decided to throw religion back into the mix by saying God commands us to be fruitful and multiply.
Another scientific theory that's being widely accepted: Homosexuality is nature's own version of population control. The idea behind this is when a species starts to become bigger than can be sustained, nature kicks in and introduces individuals into the phylum that are not interested in procreating by having them be attracted to the same sex.
But back to the religious aspect of the conversation: The Bible was written during a period in this world's existence when above all else, survival of the human race was pinnacle. No one was waking up at 9am to hit Starbucks and then go design websites, or film dish detergent commercials. You woke up with one idea in mind: 'How do I keep my family alive another day?'
Anyone who didn't subscribe to this view was looked upon harshly, because there was a real fear that your tribe or the village population might not survive without additional members. So procreation rules were inserted into the Bible by men.
Also in the Bible? Approval for slavery, bans on eating shellfish, permission to murder someone for not having a beard, and lots and lots of anti-women stances. Raise of hands to see who's been following these rules without question? Anyone? Hello?
I apologize for the snark; I'm not trying to make this into a Bible Bash -- I'm simply pointing out a couple of facts.
First, the Bible (and most religious tomes) was written when the earth was believed flat and the center of the universe. It was created at a time when it was believed that a man's semen contained the essence of life (hence the term 'seed.') and that a woman was simply the incubator. Obviously all these concepts have been long since proven false. But in those early days, science basically equated to taking a clay pot, putting it over a fire and making the water inside it boil. There was no DNA studies or major astronomical research being done.
I know there's a bit of science hate among some God-fearing folks, but science has provided us with many things that Religion has readily and happily embraced. Global communications have allowed religious groups to reach out to their flocks in more numbers than ever. It's provided us with means of travel to locations of religious significance that once were all but impossible to get to. Science has provided medicines and technologies that have allowed religious leaders to live longer lives, spending more time with their congregations.
So if science can disprove certain things from the Bible, and be widely accepted as such, why is homosexuality still off the discussion block?
Second, let's go back to those laws and edicts in the Bible that even the most devout find ludicrous. Besides the ones I alluded to earlier, there were laws in place to permanently do away with stubborn children, laws that permitted killing those who worked on the Sabbath, rules that banned certain fabrics from being mixed, and...oh, all you folks with tattoos of Jesus or a cross? Yep, you're breaking a holy law as well.
The point is there's very few of us around who would think twice about going to a Red Lobster on a Sunday to be served King Crab legs by the hard working waitress and stop to consider all the religious rules broken. But that one about the gays? Yeah, that one alot of folks seem to think is important to keep.
Why is it so hard to accept the possibility that what was written so long ago could be wrong for this day and age? Is it the fear that by accepting the Bible has mistakes then God is fallible? We've already established the earth is round and has no pillars holding it up. That doesn't change anything that Jesus said about being be good to one another, or judging others "lest ye be judged."
To my memory of the Bible (and admittedly it's been a while since I read it), the only people Jesus ever condemned were the hypocritical and self-righteous. Everyone else was invited to the Holy Love Fest.
What we need to do is dispel the fear of 'The G-Word.' Gay men and women are not looking to sneak into your home late at night, kidnap your spouse and turn them. They're not looking to make your children gay. They're not looking to force a priest to marry them in a church that doesn't want them. They want to be proud of who they are, and not worry about being harassed or beaten to death because their idea of love isn't necessarily the same as yours. They want to support individuals who are coming to terms with their gayness and make it through the challenges that face them. They want to get married. They want to live their lives happily like you get to live yours. And that's pretty much about it.
That, my friends is the 'Gay Agenda.' Does that sound so unbelievably awful?
One last thought -- the individual I was having a debate with? He happened to be African-American. I thought it was rather ironic that someone whose parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on might very well have faced hatred, adversity and ignorance would in turn do the same to another group of people. I'm sure he thought about it, he would be very grateful for the fact that most rational humans today choose to ignore Leviticus 25:44-46 (where Slavery is readily endorsed).
Okay, one MORE last thought -- Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh apparently said that President Obama's support of gay marriage is essentially a declaration of war against 'traditional marriage.'
I wonder how Rush's first, second, third and fourth wives feel about that?
Yes, I'm being snarky again. But this time I won't apologize.