A Very Simple Solution


So many people still have no clue when it comes to gay marriage and believe it to be an abomination before God. Oddly, they don’t seem to have the same problem with people wearing clothes of more than one kind of cloth, people having tattoos, or people no longer having slaves, but there you are.

The Attorney General of Texas has said that county clerks who don’t want to perform same-sex weddings don’t have to. Mind you, these weddings are a completely secular institution that have nothing to do with religion, but, again, there you are. Also, a clerk in Mississippi, long known as a bastion of tolerance and decency toward all, has resigned rather than perform same-sex weddings.

One of these people has handled this correctly, and as a mature adult. The other is the Attorney General for Texas.

I think it’s stupid to bring your religious beliefs into the workplace, but if you genuinely have a problem with the idea of having to sign off on a marriage license for a gay couple, quitting your job is a valid option. It sucks that this woman feels that she has to do that, but that’s fine; it’s her choice.

On the other hand, telling people they don’t have to do a major component of their job, simply because they don’t like one permutation of that component, is childish and asinine. It also opens up a horrible can of worms that the former Confederacy really, really doesn’t need to be dealing with.

For example, why should this stop at same-sex couples? Should a Catholic clerk be allowed to refuse to marry two divorced people? What about a Muslim clerk, who doesn’t believe Christians and Muslims should marry? Would that clerk be allowed to pass? What about someone who believes, as many people actually still do, that mixed-race marriages shouldn’t exist? Are they allowed to cite their “deeply held beliefs” and refuse to do their job?

This finding from the AG is probably illegal, and certainly unwise. It’s not going to hold up in court, nor should it. But Texas is now going to have to waste time and money defending the concept.

I think the lady that resigned her position in Mississippi is an idiot, but at least she’s doing what she feels is right for her, and not demanding that her job be changed to suit her needs. I think she’s being foolish overall, but I can respect her choice. The Attorney General of Texas, however, is simply playing politics.

His solution is probably illegal, and certainly unworkable. Hers is silly and unwise, but it affects only her. One of these people chose the simple solution. The other did not.

Judge Not


I’ve never done a guest blog piece before, but when my own mother asks to do one, how can I say no? Enjoy!

Susan E. Lindsey

The Supreme Court’s recent decision about same-sex marriage brought forth a rainbow of celebration, but also dark clouds of anger and lightning bolts of hate.

Many—but not all—of those condemning the ruling identified themselves as Christian and cited various biblical passages to support their positions. Some—but not all—of those celebrating the decision made anti-Christian remarks.

I consider myself a Christian, and I don’t like the term being used as an all-encompassing label for rigid or ultra-conservative people who love to point the finger of sin and condemnation at others. Most Christians I know do not behave this way. The word Christian means a follower of Christ, and Jesus Christ did not call us to condemn or hate one another.

I support the decision of the court and think it’s long overdue. However, I also want to respect the beliefs of others and consider what they have to say, so let’s examine some of the scriptures most often cited by opponents to same-sex marriage.

I have to preface this by pointing out that marriage is both a civil/legal construct and a religious construct, which complicates the matter. I am a great believer in the separation of church and state. That is not an anti-Christian statement. I’m all for Christians practicing their faith. I am not in favor, however, of practitioners of any faith (Christian, Muslim, Judaism, Buddhism, or anything else) dictating the laws of this land.

I also realize that many people have come to their conclusions about homosexuality from a position of emotion, not logic, so trying to use logic to discuss this may be futile. All of that being said, let’s look at those scriptures. (Citations are from the Revised Standard Version.) First, the Old Testament.

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24

This scriptures provides a model for marriage, but it does not say that it is the only model for marriage, nor does it in fact use the word “marriage.” A similar New Testament passage (Matthew 10:6-8) likewise does not restrict marriage to this model.

In this passage from Genesis, Lot offers shelter in his home to two travelers identified as angels.

But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”

Genesis 19:4-8

The passage is used as an argument against homosexuality, but it is really about attempted homosexual rape and Lot’s willingness to allow his virgin daughters to be raped instead of his guests. A similar story is told in the book of Judges, where a man provides overnight accommodations for a traveler.

22 As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, base fellows, beset the house round about, beating on the door; and they said to the old man, the master of the house, “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.” 23 And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brethren, do not act so wickedly; seeing that this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. 24 Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do with them what seems good to you; but against this man do not do so vile a thing.” 25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine, and put her out to them; and they knew her, and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. 26 And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, till it was light.

27 And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up, let us be going.” But there was no answer. Then he put her upon the ass; and the man rose up and went away to his home. 29 And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and laying hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel.

Judges 19:22-29

In this gruesome tale, the host protects his guest by throwing the guest’s concubine into the street (after first also offering up his virgin daughter). The concubine is gang-raped all night. When she crawls back to the house, she’s thrown over a donkey for the trip home, where she is murdered. Again, not a tale about same-sex relationships, but a horrific tale of rape, a culture of blaming the victim, and the disposability of women. Why would anyone want to use follow the advice of the writers of these stories?

In the Old Testament book of Leviticus, the Levitical priests lay down the law and specifically address sex in chapter 18. Verses 12-17 of the chapter deal with prohibitions against incest. Verse 18 prohibits a man from marrying his wife’s sister. Verses 19-23 prohibit sex during a woman’s period, adultery with neighbors, child sacrifice, gay sex, and bestiality.

19 You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness. 20 And you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, and defile yourself with her. 21 You shall not give any of your children to devote them by fire to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23 And you shall not lie with any beast and defile yourself with it, neither shall any woman give herself to a beast to lie with it: it is perversion.

—Leviticus 18:19-23

Apparently, the priests considered these to be comparable levels of bad stuff. However, I have a difficult time believing that sex during a woman’s period or gay sex compare in any way to child sacrifice or bestiality. And this passage is from a book that also discusses the rules of animal sacrifices, outlaws the eating of pork or rabbit, requires male circumcision, and forbids getting tattoos or trimming beards. Can we agree that some of it might be outdated?

Once in a while, people will cite passages from the book of I Kings. Chapter 14 tells about a ruler establishing male prostitution cults in Judah; chapter 15 tells about a subsequent ruler who puts an end to the practice. Neither of these passages deal with loving same-sex relationships, but rather with male prostitution in a cult setting. It brings up the question: were female prostitutes in a cult setting OK? Or was prostitution of either sex in a non-cult setting somehow acceptable?

These Old Testament passages were written long before Jesus was born. Let’s look at the New Testament.

21 for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened . . .

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

32 Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.

—Romans 1:21 and 26, 27, 32

These are Paul’s words in a letter to the Romans. Paul is speaking of people who knew about God, but did not honor him. In this passage, Paul rants against those who believe and live differently than he does. He labels same-sex relations as dishonorable, unnatural, and shameless, but seems to be condemning them more for not honoring God. He then advocates for their murder and the murder of those who approve of such practices. Not exactly a shining example of Christian love. In another letter, Paul writes to the Corinthians:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

It is easy to define thieves and robbers, adulterers and drunkards. The other definitions are broader: who defines what is immoral, what is idolatry, and what is sexual perversion? It was once considered immoral for women to show their ankles. In many cultures, any kind of sex besides heterosexual / missionary position / with your spouse is considered perversion. In this same letter, Paul writes about marriage, advocating celibacy for those who can live that way (as Paul did), but marriage for those who cannot:

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. . . . I say this by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

—1 Corinthians 7:1-3 and 6-9

This is another passage sometimes cited as a definition for marriage. But Paul isn’t celebrating marriage as a union of one man and one woman. He is saying it would be best if we all could be celibate, but if we can’t, then we should marry. Paul may very well have been asexual, without desire for sex with anyone. He chose, instead, to devote his life to his faith. But if everyone were celibate, the human race would end. If, as Christians, we believe that God created us, then he also gave us sexual desire. We hear again from Paul when he writes to Timothy:

Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,

1 Timothy 1:8-10

Dictionaries define sodomy in various ways: as homosexual acts, as oral sex, as anal sex, as bestiality, as sex that is not intended for procreation. Many heterosexuals engage in sex that is not for procreation, and have oral sex or anal sex. So sodomites does not refer exclusively to same-sex relations. And Paul is equating vastly different “sins”—is telling fib equal to killing your mother?

I don’t believe that the Bible forbids same-sex marriages or condemns homosexuality. It certainly isn’t listed in the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20), and there is no record that Jesus said anything one way or another about same-sex relationships.

We have learned much about human sexuality in the centuries since Paul was alive. There is a range of sexual behavior and identities that are clearly biological: these include heterosexuality, homosexuality, asexuality, transgender, and intersexuality.

As a Christian, I follow Christ—not Paul and not the writers of the Old Testament. We are called to love one another and to avoid judging others.

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

—Matthew 7:1-16

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

—John 13:34

37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

—Matthew 22:37-39

History is filled with people who cited the Bible, Koran, or other religious writings to shore up arguments for everything from slavery to domestic abuse to wars. If you’re going to cite the Bible, understand the context and history of the passages. Apply some common sense and thought, and recognize that your own experiences and fears color your views. Don’t support a stance just because your friends or relatives support it, without doing your own thinking.

Finally, if you’re opposed to gay sex, don’t have gay sex. If you’re opposed to gay marriage, don’t marry someone of the same sex.

The world if filled with enough hate: let people love who they love.

50 States, 6 Territories, and 1 District Down!


We won.

In a larger, more inclusive sense, everyone wins, and that’s because no one really loses. If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married. If your church is against the concept, they won’t be forced to allow same-sex couples to marry, just like they currently aren’t forced to allow mixed-race couples to marry, or allow divorced couples to marry. If your business does flowers for weddings, and you won’t do business with gays then, well, clearly money is something you hate. Also, you kind of have to do it, so suck it up and reel in the cash.

I don’t have too much more to say about this, so I’ll let Andrew Sullivan take it from here. I’ll also remind my friends that while this is good and great, we still have one more major problem to overcome before full equality; adoptions of children by gay people, which is still illegal in several states. But once that’s gone…that’s that.

It’s All Over But the Screeching


So earlier this week, I spent much of my time in Vegas. This included the days when, suddenly, gay marriage kind of exploded outward in one big rainbow cloud. The first I knew of it was when I saw a wedding chapel with a bright sign with a rainbow background saying something about it, and suggesting gays should come get married right now.

Ah, cynical capitalism. I love it.

Anyhow, obviously I’m quite pleased by SCOTUS refusing to hear the cases, and I’m pleased by the recent moves from the Ninth Circuit, even if Kennedy’s weird waffling on the issue made things a bit confusing for a few days.

Still, this is going along even quicker than I expected, and I think it is obvious that very soon we’ll have gay marriage everywhere. There just isn’t any legal leg for anyone against it to stand on.

marriage-equality-population

Equality on the Move


In the last few days, four states have had judges say that, no, not liking gay marriage isn’t sufficient reason to make it illegal. Let’s check this helpful map from Wikipedia.

Samesex_marriage_in_USA.svg

Please note that before posting, I hit F5, just in case something had changed. Anyhow, the blue states are states where same-sex marriage is now legal. The ones with red and yellow stripes have had their anti-gay marriage laws overturned, but the courts put actual enforcement on hold until the various circuit courts can hear appeals, which is somewhat sensible. So for those keeping track, that’s 19 states, with about 43% of the US population, where gay marriage is legal and happening. Another seven states, with about 18% more of the US population, will have it once the courts get things sorted out.

So to the anti-gay marriage crowd, I have to ask…when do you give up? When do you surrender and take your place on the right side of history? Come on. We’re waiting.

Seriously, What the Fuck is the Matter With Kansas?!


Fuck you, Kansas.

Fuck you, Kansas.

I’d say “word fail me”, but I plan to type nearly 500 words this, so obviously they had better not fail me. Yes, Kansas has truly gone beyond the Pale today and done something very bizarre, very immoral, and I am almost 100% certain, very illegal. They have passed a new law saying that discrimination against gay couples is perfectly legal. You can deny them food, housing, clothes, whatever. If you are a person who runs a business, but your personal religious beliefs exist in conflict with gay marriage, you can refuse service to gay couples.

It goes beyond that. Apparently if you’re a hospital administrator, you can refuse to admit people who are in gay relationships. If you’re a cop, you can refuse to help them. Anything that runs under the auspices of the Kansas government can refuse to provide services to gay couples, or even people they suspect might, at some point, be in a gay relationship. All of this is in the name of some bullshit “religious liberty” concept that holds that someone’s right to believe in their god in their way trumps basically everything else in modern civil society.

What a crock.

It does not in any way shape or form seriously impinge on someone’s religious freedom to tell them that their restaurant can’t refuse service to a gay couple. It does not impinge upon their religious freedoms any more than it does to say they can’t refuse service to black people or Jews. If someone chooses to take part in the wider society by opening a business, being a police officer or running a hospital, that person cannot then say, “I’ll do it, as long as I don’t have to wait on the gays!”

I mean, what the fuck? If you think this is a good, sound, reasonable law, substitute the word “black” or “Jew” or the words “mixed-race marriages” for “gay” and “gay marriages” through out this and tell me then it’s acceptable. And if you think it is, then fuck you, you un-American, freedom-hating asshole.

This is exactly the kind of bullshit that makes people like me truly loathe religion, and why I speak out against it whenever I can. I honestly wouldn’t mind (as much), if people were simply lying to themselves about the nature of the universe in their own homes. But to bring it out in public, and give it the force of law, that’s truly wrong.

If you want to live in a land where you can have your bigoted, intolerant attitudes backed up with the force of law, may I suggest you go live in a place like Uganda, or Russia? I suspect either of those countries would be more your speed. Either way, stop trying to ruin my country with your fucked-up ideas.

15 States (and One District), Down. One More on the Way. 34 States and 5 Territories to Go!


Blue kangs states are best!

Blue kangs states are best!

Since August, Minnesota, New Jersey and Illinois have legalized same-sex marriage. Hawaii is poised to be next. New Mexico will probably follow sometime in the next few months. At present, well over 100 million Americans (37% of the population), live in a state where same-sex marriage is legal. All of us live in a country where the federal government grants recognition to marriages legally performed in these states.

So this begs the question: when will the other 34 states and five territories get off their collective asses and legalize same-sex marriage?

The territories will likely be a mixed bunch. Guam has discussed the issue, but hasn’t moved on it. Peurto Rico is heavily Democratic, but also heavily Catholic. Pope Francis has told everyone to basically stop worrying about the gays, but it remains to see if that’s going to matter. The US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and CNMI all have their own issues as well.

As for the various states, well…look at that map. The problems are basically where you’d expect them to be. Looking at another map may be informative.

US_miscegenation.svg

That’s what laws against mixed-race marriages were like back in the day. And by “back in the day” I mean up until the late 1960s. The Supreme Court case that struck those laws down, Loving v Virginia, was decided less than five years before I was born. We were only two years away from landing on the Moon, and yet it was still illegal for a white and black person to get married in vast parts of the country.

There are some significant overlaps in that map. The last states to have anti-miscegenation laws are also, with the exception of Delaware, all states that ban gay marriage to greater or lesser degrees. These holdout states had to be dragged, sometimes almost literally, kicking and screaming into the 20th century.

Sadly, I think that’s what it’s going to come down to again. Some currently “red on the first map” states will be pragmatic and pass gay marriage laws. I expect Michigan and Nevada to take this route, and both to do it for money. Others will gradually sober up and take their mouths off the Tea Party exhaust pipe and simply realize, with good ole fashioned Midwestern populism, that what two consenting adults do together is their own damn business. Montana, the Dakotas and possibly Kansas will go this route. Oklahoma may, especially as word gets out that some of the Indian tribes there will perform gay marriages.

But we know what the real holdouts will be; the deep south. The place where people sometimes still refer to “the war of northern aggression” and think that Richard Nixon was dangerously liberal. What they think about Lyndon B. Johnson doesn’t even bear repeating. Most people in the south aren’t racist, that’s sure. But I think we can assume that if there’s any place where one can be fairly openly racist, the deep south is that place.

Mind you, this is several decades after Loving, after Martin Luther King, Jr, after school integration and after the Civil Rights Act. So, no, I’m willing to bet that the deep southern states, except maybe Florida will keep gay marriage illegal up until the bitter end when the Supreme Court forces them to accept it.

And when will that be? Well, it depends on what happens between now and January of 2017. If Obama gets another SCOTUS nomination or two (Scalia will probably hold on until he’s dead, but Thomas might leave), then my guess is somewhere around the 2018 or 2019 term. If there’s only a couple of the Dark Side-style conservatives left, it could happen then. It could happen earlier. Roberts has been slightly impressive over the last couple of years and has proven to be very good at figuring out where the winds of change are blowing.

Even then, I don’t imagine that we will get a full-on “all states must have gay marriages” ruling. That will probably not come until sometime next decade. But a ruling that says all states have to recognize any marriages legally performed in other states? That will come sooner and will frankly make a lot of sense.

It’s only been about ten years since Massachusetts became the first state with gay marriage. Oddly, pretty much nothing the anti-gay marriage crowd has predicted has come to pass, and now we have many, many other states joining the team. Soon more will, and this imperfect experiment of American equality will take another grand step forward.