By Craig Gunther on November 9, 2009
Equal rights for gay and lesbian people are very important to me. As an unmarried person at age 31, people sometimes assume that I am gay because of my fervent support for these issues. It's at times like these that I remind people that civil rights aren't just about us as individuals, but all of us collectively as a society. The world will judge us on how we treat fellow members of our society, as it should.
Lately, I have been very disappointed in referenda across the United States. In 2004, we had the Constitutional ban in Kansas, even though gay marriage was already illegal. Oh, the things the right does to whip up their base. Then there was Proposition 8 in California, supported by voters at the time they selected our nation's first African-American president. A tad bit of irony there. Most recently, we had Question 1 in Maine. It was a relatively close vote, but a failure nonetheless. I see myself as a strong populist who values democracy, but I think certain measures are too sacred to be placed on the ballot. Civil rights is one of those measures. We might not have made the progress we did if civil rights were placed on the ballot in the 1860's or in the 1960's. Same thing with gay rights today.
The most frustrating barrier to gay rights for me is when folks can't separate them from the theological interpretations they subscribe to. Based on what I've read, the Christian Bible doesn't seem to condemn slavery, but I don't know anyone who thinks slavery is moral or ethical. Marriage or civil rights in the United States should have fundamentally nothing to do with Christianity. Most people probably get married in a big church, with a beautifully fancy ceremony officiated by their clergy and that is fine if that's what they want. However, marriage is fundamentally a legal contract between two consenting adults. Nothing to do with organized religion. (Nothing to do with animals, either. I'm looking at you Kansas Senator Dennis Pyle.) That's why some people can choose a simple ceremony in a courthouse before a judge. The church is not to be the marriage police in our society, although many citizens and elected officials give it that credence. Give gay people the right to marry. Churches aren't being asked to sanction gay marriage, so why is it any of their business? I've seen churches function as political action committees too many times for my taste. JesusPAC might be okay, but at least file the right paperwork and be consistently in step with the message of Christ.