April 08, 2009

Religious Bigotry DOES Hurt People!

I have been torn the last few days. First, I read this story over the weekend on UPI's website:

"BAGHDAD, April 5 (UPI) -- Six gay Iraqis were shot to death by tribal members in a pair of incidents in the past 10 days, a government source says.

An unnamed Iraq Interior Ministry official said the latest incident happened Thursday in the Sadr City area of Baghdad, in which two gay men were slain after they were disowned by relatives, CNN reported.

The official said the men were killed after a tribal meeting was held and the members decided to hunt down the victims.

Another incident reportedly happened March 26, when four men were fatally shot in Baghdad under similar circumstances.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved."

Then, on Monday, I found out that the Iowa Supreme Court had approved same-sex marriage for that state. And today, the Senate and House in Vermont voted to over-ride a potential veto of a same-sex marriage bill by their governor.

While I'm thrilled by the progress I see in our country, I am tempering my excitement. The reason for this response is stories like the one at the beginning of this post. While we in America consider ourselves more "enlightened" or "advanced" than those in other parts of the world, let's face it...religious bigotry hurts people. Just because gays are being killed in Iraq doesn't mean it can't happen here. It has happened here. Remember Matthew Shepherd??

Every day in America, there are teenagers who would rather run away from home and live on the streets than tell their parents they are gay. Every day transgendered folks have to fear that if the wrong person sees that they don't "pass", they may be in danger of bodily harm or worse. Every day there is someone who is in fear because of who they are.

Why? Because every day in America, there are people like Fred Phelps spewing their bile for anyone who will listen. Every day, people like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Matt Drudge, et al make sure to let their listeners or constituents know that they should hate glbt people because they see us as perverts. They say we hate God. They say that we shouldn't be "humanized in the media" (Thanks Bill O-Reilly!).

It's sad, but when you hear something long enough, you start to believe it...even if it's terribly wrong. Teena Brandon was killed because she dared to try and be who she was on the inside, even if she wasn't complete on the outside. When young people or religious people get worked up by others' words, they do stupid things. The Lifetime movie, "Prayers for Bobby", should teach us that lesson well. Bobby's mother was convinced by her church and by religious leaders on TV that her son would change if she just prayed hard enough. She was convinced that her son had given himself over to sin. She turned her back on him when what she was doing didn't seem to work.

Religious and conservative political leaders like to spout forth that our glbt community paints them as "haters" unfairly. They say they love the sinner and hate the sin. They say that we just don't understand that they are trying to protect the "family". They are just trying to do what's right.

Unfortunately, when someone is in your face telling you that who you are is wrong and immoral and sick, it's hard to see that they are loving you but hating what you do. When someone tells you that your relationship of 16 years that has been full of love, laughter, pain, heartache, giggles, road trips, movies, dinners, etc. isn't worthy of the word "marriage", they aren't saying they love you. They are saying they are better than you. They are saying that you don't deserve what everyone else has. How is that loving? How is that hating the sin and loving the sinner? I submit that it's not doing either of those things. Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. Why do you think that is the case? Don't you think if it was that important an issue of sin that He would have said something about it?? Religion should never be used as an excuse for violence, whether it's physical, emotional or verbal.

I hope that my own state will one day legalize same-sex marriage. I actually hope that the United States of America will realize, in my lifetime, that being gay isn't a choice or a sickness and we should be able to marry who we fall in love with just like straight people do. I look forward to the day when I can legally call Erica my wife. In the meantime, we are careful where we express our affection for one another. We hold hands only in a dark movie theater or at home within the safety of these walls. We kiss each other in the privacy of our home.

We do these things because we know all too well that if the wrong person saw us holding hands as we walked down the road, we could very well get hurt. So, in the end, has America really come all that far? Are we really that different from our Middle East neighbors? As long as I'm afraid to kiss my wife in public, we still have a long way to go.


  1. We do indeed have a long way to go. I just read a qoute from the Olsteens being qouted by Larry King. Larry mentioned more states opening up Gay Marriage and if she thought it would do harm.. Here is her reply.

    "We really want to see marriage between a man and a woman. There [are] going to be people who get together and have relationships and have what they call their families. But I just think marriage should be sanctified by the church. It should be between a man and a woman."

    Her comment about "What they call their families..." really shows the arrogance of the "I am better then You" menality. I think my son would take exception to her statemet.

  2. Jim & Brenda,
    We remain hopeful that the progress will continue. That soon America will understand it is not tolerance, rather, liberty and justice for all, that's desired by every citizen. Thank you for this post and the work you do.
    Mariah & Byron