June 23, 2005

The Medical Decision Making Act

The Pastor at my church, Believers Covenant Fellowship, recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun that, with his permission, I feel is very appropriate to republish here.

The letter was affirming an op-ed piece written by Dan Furmansky, the Executive Director of Equality Maryland, a LGBT civil rights organization. The subject was the veto of The Medical Decision Making Act by Maryland's Governor, republican Robert Erlich. This act, passed by the Maryland State Legislature, would give unmarried couples of any gender combination, the opportunity to register with the state and participate in critical care medical decision making. This is a right only legally married couples and blood relatives currently have. The following is Apostle Dale Jarrett's letter.

Dear Editors,

I am writing to shout my agreement with the Baltimore Sun's recent op-end column written by Dan Furmansky regarding The Medical Decision Making Act and my total disapproval of Gov. Erhlich's decision to veto it.

It is precisely because of the actions and intentions of the religious right and conservative republicans that these kinds of laws are having to be brought forth to be put into effect. In the name of morality, our freedoms and personal rights to make our own life decisions and choices is really what is under attack. This concerns me just like the personal freedoms we are losing everyday in the name of national security. Once taken away, they are hard pressed to get back. This is what people have bled and died to get back, personal freedoms.

I am a Christian and I am an American citizen. My citizenship rights are not granted unto me because of my religion, or because of any religious text be it the Bible, the Kuran, or any other religious text. My rights are solely based upon the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Those rights grant me the priviledge of pursuing life, liberty and happiness....as I choose for my own self. There are boundary lines in place (laws) designed to protect me and everyone who participates in American society. More than ever, I can 'see' the reason why our founding fathers wrote in the separation of church and state clause because they didn't want the state to dictate it's citizen's personal religious beliefs. The state should not intrude on it's citizen's personal religious beliefs so as to make laws that are religiously acceptable to some, but not to others. To me, it is clear that our laws have been influenced by religious law, particularly the 10 Commandments. But the state doesn't promote any particular or specific religious affiliation, doctrine or dogma. THAT IS WHY gay and lesbian (bisexual & transgender) Americans should have every right to make their own decisions as citizens and have those choices be respected and protected against those who would use their religious beliefs to try to keep them from having their promised right to pursue their own life, liberty and happiness. As I have heard said before, it is not about having 'special rights', it's about already established and GIVEN rights being protected, respected and honored.

If this protection is not afforded to this one social/people group within American society, where does that stop in potentially affecting any and every other people group over future issues? Look at the American Indian and all they have been through....segregated, controlled, beaten down, ostracized. Look how women were denied the right to vote for so long, and that changed less than a century ago. Some religions have approved of and allowed slavery, something that the Constitution and Bill of Rights declare to be wrong and forbidden in America. Can't people see the slippery slope we are on and the potential chains being prepared for all of us?

As a follower of Christ, I try to hold on to the Golden Rule (which exists in every religious belief system) and says to us, "Treat others in the way that you would want to be treated." I believe it is important for me to live by my convictions and to live to honor God in all that I do, including how I treat other people who are created in His image. Jesus told us the greatest commandment, "To love God with ALL that I am, and the second is like it, to love EVERYONE ELSE as I love myself."

I want to see America, and Christian America truly treat ALL people the same, regardless of their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. In that I believe that we would fulfill the great commandment by demonstrating a God of love that loves ALL people regardless of their faults or failures, strengths or weaknesses, adequecies or inadequecies. It's an American ideal, and for it to work, everyone has to have the same rights and protections and everyone has to agree to play by the rules. If the religious right wants to act aggresively and oppresively, it will come back to haunt them for we reap what we sow. Unwittingly, they are sowing in a way that could come back to bite them in the behind regarding their OWN rights and freedoms!

VERY CONCERNED about Maryland, our Country, and our leadership,
Apostle Dale Jarrett
Believers Covenant Fellowship

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