First of all, I think it’s a miscarriage of Justice that the California Supreme Court upheld the ruling barring same-sex marriage outlined under the notorious Prop 8 legislation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Do those words mean anything anymore?
Last night I got into a heated debate with the co-host of my now defunct radio show (we should have tapped it) about the ruling and how we felt about it. Now I may be one of the few Muslims who supports gay marriage, even though I don’t believe gay rights activists should use or pursue the word “marriage”, and my co-host was contrary to my beliefs. We wrangled for two hours last night on this topic until we broke it up because it was getting very late.
I’m still angry, almost foaming at the mouth angry, this morning, because I do not understand how people honestly believe that it’s perfectly OK to deny a certain segment of society rights because we don’t agree with them. It really doesn’t matter how those who support Prop 8 color their arguments. In principle, what supporters of Prop 8 are saying to gays and those against Prop 8 is “we don’t agree with your lifestyle, therefore you shouldn’t have the same rights as we do, as our different way of living is superior and worthy of greater rights and protections under the law”.
So last night for two hours I debated this issue. Here I was debating the merits of legal theory, Islam, history, philosophy, science, psychology, etc. and still I was considered wrong. In the end, to be perfectly blunt and honest, as a minority, a double one at that (black and Muslim), I cannot in good conscience ever support the denying of rights to another minority. To do so would mean that I should accept when or if the same is ever done to me.
I have heard all the arguments, some I will detail, but I truly don’t think that as Americans we are on the right path supporting initiatives like Prop 8. If it’s OK to deny rights to one group of citizens one day, it will be perfectly OK to do the same to another group another day.
Here are some of the more popular arguments made last night:
It’s not the same as the Civil Rights movement, because that was about race and you can’t “choose” your skin color.
– Now, “choose” is a loaded word and it gets into a whole other argument, but my retort is that even then, it wasn’t just about race. Race was just the argument and catalyst among others that motivated one group Americans to decide that it was perfectly and legally OK to deny the rights of another group Americans.
It was the classic “we are the majority and we feel that this (insert minority) group is detrimental to our society and doesn’t deserve to have the same rights as we do” that was the catalyst behind all the Jim Crow era laws and statutes that sought to deny marriage rights, voting rights, education rights, etc. to blacks. This “thing” i.e. arguments and issue is cyclical. The same arguments were historically made against blacks and other minorities like the Irish, Japanese, Catholics, etc. We were a threat to society. Our morals weren’t the same, what about the children how would they react to an interracial couple or blacks in power over whites, are their lifestyles even the same, what about their immoral music and dancing, didn’t it say in the Bible that they were cursed because of the color of their skin anyway, etc. etc.? Replace black with gay and the same arguments have been modified for today. Our Civil Rights leaders of that day argued on legal principle. It didn’t matter how the majority white populace personally felt about blacks, that has no bearing on the Constitution. The argument was and remains today, is it lawful to deny equal rights and protections under the law, to a certain segment or group of law-abiding, tax paying, citizens, based on another segment or group of society’s personally felt/held beliefs about that certain group? Is it OK to deny rights based on beliefs? Our Civil Rights leaders responded with a resounding NO and fought until the government agreed with them and things have changed since then because of their efforts. As a result, did the sky turn black? Did dogs and cats start hanging out? Did white kids suddenly turn black? (well…nevermind on that comment 🙂 ) Did black men immediately go out and start raping white women? What became of those formerly illegal interracial marriages? Did the kids go crazy? Was society ruined? I don’t think so. Now a white supremacist might beg to differ on that accord. Either way, the principles are still the same in my opinion. I don’t have to like or believe in anything that my neighbor does, but if they obey the law and pay their taxes like I do, they should have the same legal protections and guarantees as I do. Seems pretty simple to me anyway.
Then there’s my personal favorite:
God prohibits homosexuality as a grave sin (abomination), what kind of society would we be if we allowed unnatural things that God specifically forbids?
– This I call this argument the trying to have it both ways argument. People who talk like this when defending their support of Prop 8 are really asking me whether or not I prefer to die by fire or by drowning. I mean which one is worse, I’m dying anyway right? First of all, what God states in the Bible or Qur’an for that matter, has no bearing on the US Constitution.
I know, I know, what kind of Muslim am I right? Well, I’m the kind of Muslim who thinks and understands the reality that we live in a secular state and if we are going to live in a secular state we should uphold the laws of that state, if not, we are free to not live in said secular state, or dissolve the government under which we live. So which one is it? Are we going to attempt to impose our religious beliefs on a secular society or are we going to leave? We can’t have it both ways, because religion should never even be in the debate about the legal protections. But if we must go there…..
A: I never stated that voters should not have the right to vote their “conscience” or “beliefs”. That would make me a hypocrite. However, what I am stating is that when we do, we have to be mindful that those beliefs that we are voting to impose on others who don’t share ours could come around and haunt us as one day it may be another’s beliefs which we don’t share that is legislated against us. Muslims, lets say we go along with these other religious groups, don’t we realize that if we went along with the “Christian” majority who supports things like Prop 8, we would in essence be responsible for strengthening their political power and legislative abilities? Afterall, they are the majority and we just happen to religiously agree on this particular issue, but in a few years from now, aren’t we then saying by our support this time, that we will equally be OK when this same group decides in some other local, state, or national legislative body that certain restrictions should be placed on Muslims? I mean the majority wins right? What happens when a terrorist who happens to be Muslim does something like another 9/11, God forbid, and a “proposition” is placed on a ballot during a major election that limits the building of Mosques or requiring registrations of converts to Islam, etc.? I mean it would be in the interest of National Security right? What about society and the values of this nation? Isn’t the argument that this is a Christian-Judeo nation enough? Islam is contrary to the values of society and the morality, etc. etc. blah, blah, blah, these would be their arguments against us. We would have helped create the beast. They could easily state that converts “chose” to be Muslims, other Muslims “chose” to come to the United States, right? Since we “chose” these things, and “chose” to live in a society that believes and have different lifestyles than we do, we should be OK with our rights being a little less than the majority of society right? All the while, we should still be expected to pay our taxes and abide by the law too. So we can be equally taxed, but shouldn’t complain when we don’t have equal legal protections and representation, because of course, it’s God’s will and societal “norms” is it not?
B: As it relates to God….what Bible or Qur’an are we reading? Last I checked, Homosexuality is not at the top of the list and isn’t even in the top 10 on God’s list according to the most conservative interpretations. So my question is, why are we so zealous on this issue alone? I mean, if we want to be God’s avengers on Earth and protect society against immorality and values, one would have to ask, what the hell happened in America then? So you want to talk about “unnatural”? What about Teen pregnancy? Have we looked at the latest statistics they are through the roof! What about the divorce statistics? Most marriages in America end up in divorce. Births out of wedlock and single parent homes, exist in greater numbers today than at any other time in history. Then there are those “little” things like adultery, lying, stealing, poverty, crime, the treatment of the elderly, the orphans, etc. etc. etc. What are we planning to do about these things? Are they “natural” in God’s eyes? I don’t see any protests or legal propositions on ballots that punish or deny the rights of those guilty of lying, cheating, stealing, etc. I don’t see any propositions on the ballots that make it illegal to allow a child to be homeless or go hungry, let alone entire families. In our “moral” society we will even foreclose on the home of an elderly man or woman and send them to a home for the elderly which we may or may not pay for! Do we even want to discuss the treatment of the elderly at some of these facilities? Don’t get me started on health care and insurance! We have a lot of nerve! We have a lot of guts invoking the name of God to effectively legally persecute one group of society because of what we call sinful, yet turn a blind eye to the daily sins of our current society as if they were nothing. Something about swatting/straining at gnats comes to mind…. To be clear, I care more about the immorality of a society who is the wealthiest in the nation in the world that would allow citizens to go without basic needs like food and shelter than I do about two adults who want to live in a monogamous, life-long committed relationship, even if they are two men or two women. In other words, I don’t believe religious people even have the theological right to be so up in arms about this issue, meanwhile ignoring when the least of the people in this country suffer.
I mean can you imagine if these so-called religious types were as zealous about ensuring that poverty was eradicated as they are about gay marriage? Imagine if things like usury were sought out and targeted to be denied? Imagine if CNN covered protests against lenders because they were so energized as the Prop 8 rallies? Imagine if it were proposed that it should be illegal to not care and ensure proper care for orphans and the elderly? Then and only then do I think it would be proper to start with religious debates and arguments against gay marriage. We don’t even have our house in order, but we are so concerned about another’s house. As it stands right now, we religious types will sit and observe wars that devastate other nations and people, miscarriages of justice, and all other manners of immorality in and committed by this country in our name, yet we care more about whether or not gay men and women get to share their lives legally, as heterosexual couples currently do and have the same rights, ups, and downs that can come with marriage. This is supposed to somehow be more important! I’m sorry, I’m just not buying that line of thinking.
Now even though this is not a common argument and rightfully so, it was suggested to me that “studies” have shown that gays are more promiscuous than heterosexuals and therefore pose more of a “threat” to society…..
– Now that one almost made me laugh! Now the “threats” were completely outlined, but they apparently range from the transmission of STD’s, to the impact on the psyche of children who may think it’s OK to have sex with anyone….
But isn’t this argument counterproductive to the cause of Prop 8 supporters?
Let me skip over the obvious insulting nature of the commentary, as evidently there truly is nothing new under the sun, history records and shows us that it was the same type of “studies” and arguments that made many believe that blacks were more sexually aggressive to the point of being sexual predators, miscreants, and overly promiscuous, and therefore we should be “regulated”, some even tried to sterilize black men.
But let’s just say for a minute that any of these “studies” were true. Wouldn’t it then seem to reason that we should then support gay marriage? Wouldn’t marriage lessen promiscuity by providing a legal framework and structure that would limit the spread of STD’s as a result? Wouldn’t stable long term commitments provide an environment and show an example to children that it’s not OK to drop your pants every chance you get and that you can live productive lives in a committed long term relationship? Are we suggesting that more marriage is a bad thing? Are we suggesting that providing a legal structure and framework that is equal to all citizens who want to take “plunge” would somehow result in more instability and promiscuity? I mean God forbid we let the gays get married right? Then many heterosexual marriages would end in divorce, children may live in single or no parent homes, teens might actually start having sex and having children out of wedlock, entire communities would be ravaged because of the lack of stability in them due to little or no marriages….. but wait that’s already happening!
Oh, I know, that isn’t as bad, what’s bad is that gays want to actually do what heterosexuals are seriously failing to do! How dare they want to actually do what we should be doing! How dare they actually want stability, secure committed families and structures and the legal rights to support them as they obey the laws and pay taxes!
How dare they think of themselves as equal citizens who shouldn’t be taxed without equal representation and legislation afforded to other citizens.
What’s the worse that can happen? Maybe they would end up in happier, sustained, marriages….maybe, their marriages wouldn’t follow our holier than thou examples, hey they might actually stay married! What could be wrong with that?
I could rant on this subject for days on end. I obviously haven’t covered every point in my debate last night or my entire feelings on the subject, but I have to state in closing that we have to fight this thing.
Either we uphold the principles of our Constitution or we abolish them. Either we live in a secular society that guarantees rights for all her citizens regardless of beliefs and yes lifestyle, or we do not. If we allow a pseudo religious police to have power over those who believe differently than them, then we should be equally willing to deal with the consequences of the future actions this religious police and constituency may take, when they take up a new cause, or find a new target to police brandishing their form of morality and imposing it on society at large.
My religious brethren, you truly worry me with your lukewarm attitudes concerning scripture and theology. Picking and choosing what parts of the scripture you want to enforce and while standing by ignoring other parts of scripture leads down a slippery slope. It may be that the very ones with whom you want to deny rights and condemn could be the very ones ahead of us through the gates of paradise. Have mercy and compassion even with those whom you have theological, ideological, or lifestyle differences. Remember that God Alone is the Judge and is the Only Grantor of Paradise. These Inalienable Rights that Thomas Jefferson so eloquently spoke of in our Declaration of Independence, were accurately stated to come from God Alone. If possessing equal rights and protections under the law, will produce a citizenry that is happy, who are we as man to interfere with the pursuit of this happiness? This happiness that comes from the ability to live ones life freely under a just system and legislation, states that one’s God given right to be happy and have the liberty thereof, should be protected. This happiness can not be granted or denied by man because one group believes that the legal guarantees that they have should be justified and protected over others due to differing individual or collective beliefs and pursuits. The pursuit of liberty and happiness should coexist and manifest itself in equal rights and protections under the law, if we are to be true to our founding documents and principles that speak of rights that are inalienable.
Maybe, just maybe if we focused more on living our lives to the highest standards of Our Creator, then we would not have to worry about the lives of our neighbors as they would readily embrace our examples. If our example reflected those principles and actions that we readily condemn others for not having, then we wouldn’t have to worry about those who don’t reflect them as they would be with us, as it is written in our scripture, that those who are not shall not prosper right?
However, given the current state of affairs in this nation and the world, who would actually want to be a Christian or a Muslim if these terms were defined by the actions and example of those who only seem to have the ability to organize, rally, and support legislation when and if it’s designed merely to deny the rights of those who don’t believe as they do?