January 27, 2007

New Hampshire Considering Regulating Church Weddings

When campaigning against legalizing same-sex marriage, one of the points the right wing likes to use is the fear that this legistlation would force churches whose doctrine does not believe in this right to perform these ceremonies anyway.

There is legislation under consideration in New Hampshire that takes just the opposite approach. According to this report in the Concord Monitor, this law would require wedding ceremonies within churches to comply with current state laws. In other words, until same-sex marriage would be legalized in the state, a church would not be allowed to hold a committment ceremony.

Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be a lot of support for this, but it just shows how far some people are willing to go to discriminate against GLBT people. Hopefully the legislators in New Hampshire won't let it happen.

January 26, 2007

Not a Redefinition, Just Equal Access

That's the arguement that Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland, makes about same-sex marriage in an op-ed piece for The Gazette, a group of local weekly newspapers in the DC suburbs of Maryland.

One of the primary arguements used against this is the alleged redefinition of marriage this would cause. As Furmansky points out:

".....all gays and lesbians — simply seek access to a universally recognized legal institution that will create stability and peace of mind for our families. More importantly, we seek to share in the joy and commitment that should be the hallmark of any loving relationship.

Same-sex couples express love in the same ways straight couples do. We bring our loved ones chicken soup when they sneeze. We listen intently when they complain about work. We look for ways to make them happy, with a gesture, with a card, with a kiss. We let them have the remote control — sometimes. We try to make them laugh, and we cook their favorite foods for their birthdays. We make homes together, build families together, and keep each other warm at night.

Allowing us to marry legally is just plain fair. No one chooses to be gay or lesbian, and being gay or lesbian is not a moral deficiency. Now, as the dark cloud of the closet that steals our souls is lifted for more and more of us, more Americans are understanding that ending discrimination against gays and lesbians means ending discrimination in marriage."

It's important to emphasize that no straight people would be harmed in the passing of these laws.

January 25, 2007

Keeping Religion Out of Politics--On Both Sides of the Isle

I've frequently written here about why I believe the insertion of the religious right into the political arena has corrupted both parts of society. In this entry on the Washington Post blog "On Faith," writer Susan Jacoby points out the need for the emerging religous left not to follow the same path. I couldn't agree more.

I would be hypocrytical if I endorsed the idea of democrats inserting their religious views into policy making simply because I might agree with them. I have maintained my issue is as much with the blurring of the line between church and state as it is the specific policies the right wing has shoved down America's throats over the past few years.

Ms. Jacoby writes:

I believe, after years of nauseating sanctimony from Christian soldiers in government, that this nation is hungry for candidates who speak about morality in an inclusionary rather than an exclusionary way--who appeal to and for a public and a civic morality that can be subscribed to by Americans of any or no religious belief.

No group of people has been more victimized by this than the GLBT community. It clearly needs to stop, but this country desperately needs a balance to be struck and not for the pendulum to swing just as far the other way.

January 24, 2007

Get Out and Lobby!

This is the time of year that state legislatures all across the nation are conveining and considering legislation. There are still states that are entertaining constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, while others are considering progressive initiatives that would insure equal rights in the workplace and other areas of society and establish harsher penalties for hate crimes committed against GLBT people.

My point is that this is the time for the GLBT community and its allies to stand up and have their voices heard. There are many state and local organizations that adovcate for GLBT issues like the one in my home state, Equality Maryland, which will have their annual lobby day in the state capitol of Annapolis on February 12.

I participated in last year's event, the first time I had ever done anything like that. I was proud to represent a cause I deeply believe in and will do so again next month.

I believe you 'll feel the same way if you join the voices speaking out for equality.

January 23, 2007

Connecticut Newspaper Comes Out For Same-Sex Marriage

The Hartford Courant, the most influential newspaper in Connecticut, has published an editorial taking a very strong stance in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. Here is an excerpt:

Connecticut can be proud that it took a step toward ending this discrimination by granting gay and lesbian couples the right to form civil unions, the first state to do so without pressure from the courts. Now, it is time to continue the conversation with a goal of making same-sex marriage a reality.

The editorial makes the case for the significance of the difference between a civil union and marriage. Mirroring the way a lot of folks in New Jersey felt following the recent legalization of civil unions in that state, the Courant points out how a civil union is somewhat of a second class version of marriage. The newspaper states, and I wholeheartedly agree, that GLBT people deserve to stand with their heterosexual counterparts and enjoy the fullness of marriage in every aspect.

January 22, 2007

"Whose Side Is God On, Anyway?"

This is a theme I post on periodically, but I don't think it can be emphasized often enough. In recent years, the religious right has hammered home their version of what God wants our society and laws to be and condemning as ungodly any people who hold different views.

An editorial in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel written by O. Ricardo Pimentel questions that approach:

Let's see. When God is on your side, who precisely is on the other side? See what I mean?

Implicit in these circumstances is that the other side is anti-God, though there are thankfully those in the faith movements who have far more ecumenical views about this.

My own view is that the Bible is a handy tool if it is viewed in the context of what in it is contingent and what is coherent.

In other words, stoning adulterers and a host of other practices and beliefs were contingent on a set of circumstances in a distinct culture and historical period.

No one is advocating we do these things today.

But virtues like kindness, charity, peace and justice are coherent throughout the Bible, not limited to any particular culture or era.

There's more good stuff in the column, including the concept of making value decisions with an open mind.

Now there's an idea that is timeless.

January 21, 2007

Same-Sex Unions NOT Destroying Marriage in Canada

Don't take my word for it, though. This report provided by Equal Marriage Canada has the statistics that show the institution of marriage is STRONGER, not weaker, since same-sex marriages were legalized in that nation. The conclusion is:

Rather than undermining marriage as opponents of equality make in their extreme and bizarre hysteria, the arrival of gays and lesbians, and their children, in the institute has given a new breath of life to what would have been an otherwise diminished year in Canada for marriage.

That's worth keeping in mind the next time you hear a dose of the right-wing hysteria in this nation about how same-sex marriage in the United States.