Sunday, December 4, 2011
Amendment One, Part Four
This post - the last in the series - will focus on the elephant in the argument; namely, the religious angle. Many people have a knee-jerk reaction to this amendment because of a particular religious point of view. It's a point of view that focuses only on the sexual aspect of a relationship and depends heavily on some flawed arguments. Let me deal with this briefly and then show how a particular court case comes into play.
1. God made Adam and Steve and a whole bunch of other people. Or maybe just Adam and Eve - Genesis will make your head spin. Chapter 1 says humans were created after the animals and that male and female came about simultaneously (1:24 - 27), while chapter 2 says that man came first, then the critters, then the female of the human species (2:7 - 22). Which account is correct? And if that's confusing, hang on. It's a wacky book.
2. Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed by tolerance shown to gays. Go back and really read the story - chapter 19 in Genesis. (By the way, don't you ever get curious as to what "gomorrahy" might be? No? Maybe it's just me.) Don't have a copy handy? Well then - angels came to town and stayed with Lot, a "righteous man." Wicked men of Sodom came to the house and demanded that Lot turn the strangers over to them for (there's not delicate way of putting this) a gang rape. Lot refused (good guy) and offered his virgin daughters to the crowd instead (what??). If you're going to be honest about what got Sodom smote/smited/smitten by the angelic host, you have to admit that it wasn't consensual homosexual sex.
3. Gay relationships are an Biblical abomination in the same way that sowing a field with both beans and corn is. The laws in Leviticus (where the term "abomination" is used to describe any number of actions; some of which are awful (child sacrifice to Moloch) and some of which are far less serious to us today (don't eat at Red Lobster) are hard to figure out. And it's especially hard to suss out exactly which of these outdated laws I'm really ought to obey and which I can shrug and ignore. I'm from the heart of barbecue country in North Carolina - the swine is hardly an unclean animal to me. Especially when you add in the New Testament.
4. Paul isn't to be totally trusted, either. In his letter to the Romans, Paul makes quite a big deal out of men who have chosen to go against God's "natural plan" (wording varies on translations). The problem here is that Paul often contradicts himself - look at Corinthians. In the very same chapter (14), he first says that all who have the gift of prophecy shall speak so all can hear and learn. Three verses later he orders that women are to stay silent in church. Hope none of them have the gift of prophecy, or things could get dicey.
5. Christ says nothing on the subject. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. I've always thought that if homosexuality was so all-fired important, somewhere in the four Gospels, His thoughts on the matter would be clearly recorded. Don't take my word for it - get yourself a copy of the New Testament and read the Gospels. If you limit yourself to reading Christ's words (the so-called "words in red" because they're often printed in red ink), you'll see what I mean. Instead of condemnation and contempt, we have accounts of Christ preaching through his actions a ministry of acceptance that doesn't just border on radical; it upends the status quo entirely. (My favorite is the bit of telling his disciples to get the room for the Last Supper from a man they'll meet who is carrying a jar of water, which was totally woman's work. May as well as told them to look for a drag queen.)
So the court case. Legal Lesson 4 - Any law must pass the "Lemon test," named for the 1971 case of Lemon v. Kurtzman. Here's the case, by the way. Governmental action must meet three tests to pass muster. If the action fails any of the three tests, it's unconstitutional as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment (which way trumps Amendment One of North Carolina, remember.) First, the action must have a secular legislative purpose. Second, the action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion. Third, the action must not result in an 'excessive government entanglement" with religion. Lemon makes it hard to say with a straight face that Amendment One is all about secular concerns.
I've heard patently ridiculous arguments on this issue. Such as . . . gays can't have kids (well, not "naturally," whatever that means in this day and age of in-vitro and surrogacy, not to mention adoption), so we can't let this happen. Or married gay couples will come into North Carolina and have legal issues (property division, child support, etc.) that our courts just aren't set up to handle. (That's from Rep. Kelly Hastings.) Really? Our courts can't determine and protect the rights of our citizens? Then we have bigger problems to concentrate on. Or that if we let this happen, soon we'll have 40-year-old men marrying 8-year old girls. (That one's also from Rep. Hastings, who apparently never met a slippery slope he didn't like.) Really? Even now, a bride has to be old enough to pay full price at the movies and I don't see that moving backwards. We're talking about consenting, loving adults. C'mon. Are we so scared that we're really willing to use the Constitution of North Carolina to codify discrimination and fear and intolerance? Shame on us if we are.
Watch this, if you will. There's nothing to be afraid of. This is a young man to be proud of.
And then watch this. The one thing both sides seem to have right is that it's all about family. I just believe in a bigger definition of that than some others do.
And then vote against inequality. I know I will.