Last month, the hanging suicide of Jamey Rodemayer- a 14-year old boy from Buffalo, NY who had been taunted and bullied since grade school by homophobic classmates – left yet another deep scar in the ongoing cultural and social debasement affecting the LGBT community.
And while the blame lies mainly with his direct “assailants,” the root cause goes far deeper; an indirect result of the clash between religion and politics, sexuality and nationalism.
I have written a number of times on this blog on my disapproval – for lack of a better word – of the religious Right’s abhorrence to gay rights, marriage and equality; its overwhelmingly influential, “dominionist” underpinnings and delusional foundation in prejudiced misinformation together almost outshine its blatant hypocrisy toward the very values it pretends to hold dear.
And lately, the Right’s fear and hatred toward the American LGBT community has feverishly grown, especially in the wake of the abolition of DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), states granting same-sex marriage rights to couples and the recent criticisms and looming unfavorable legislation against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by the infamously “anti-Jesus” President Barack Obama.
As if not publicly-vocal enough already, American homophobia has become further empowered by the voices of well-known advocates in the cause for social regression within the leadership ranks of the Republican party. They continually invoke calls for prejudice, discrimination and in many cases criminal behavior disguised as morality and religious virtue; as such behavior – much like the anti-Muslim, anti-minority sentiment running rampant throughout the country over the past decade – seems to have been given a “free morality pass” when examined amidst the mainstream rally cries of the radical Right.
Even in the wake of a rash of teen bullying/suicides over the past year or so, leaders on the Right still continue to stoke the flames of homophobia by suggesting – no, insisting – that the very existence of homosexuals is a direct contradiction to the word of their God and that such an existence is a threat to America itself.
Renowned Republicans like presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann love to cite their campaigns’ reluctance to recognize gay Americans as anything more than second-class citizens – reflecting their God’s will as playing an active role in government over the free liberties of the American people – while civil groups like the American Family Association (AFA) often compare homosexuality to terrorism as well as many other insane assertions.
This trend is growing steadily, especially now that the Right – pining for the affections of its base – is rallying behind the united cause of regressive social conservatism to attempt to thwart a second term for the progressive and apparently “pro-gay” Barack Obama.
Whether knowingly or not, leadership on the Right continues to condone hate by publicly condemning the gay community – offering a sense of validation to the hordes of prejudice and misinformed Americans that would rather hurt, abuse or denigrate peaceful, loving and patriotic individuals and families simply because they refuse to understand them.
And they are getting away with it.
So much for brotherly love
The recent ridiculousness over a gay soldier getting booed during a Republican debate was just one, small sampling of the Right’s willingness to cast away an entire population of Americans for fear of what they consider “different.”
Will the time ever come that these people – supposedly God-fearing, Christ-loving, brotherly-love touting church-goers – accept the fact that it is okay to be gay?
Probably not – as evident in Newt Gingrich’s recent comments that suggest being gay is just a fad.
“I believe that marriage is between a man and woman,” Gingrich said, according to the Des Moines Register. “It has been for all of recorded history and I think this is a temporary aberration that will dissipate. I think that it is just fundamentally goes against everything we know.”
If credibility is your thing, rest assured that Gingrich knows all about the “fundamentals” of marriage - he has been straight-married three times already.
Yes, the argument that marriage is “traditionally” known as being between one man and one woman is correct. But, history shows us that just because something has been done one way for a long time does not mean it’s the right or only way.
Marriage itself has been redefined over and over again throughout history, and thankfully so.
But alas, credentials aside, Newt is wrong: as throughout history – as far back as what has been recorded, anyway – marriage began simply as either a property arrangement or to solidify business or political alliances. It had little to do with the emotions and future of the bride and groom – with the woman (or women) having little to no say in the matter.
Homosexuality, however, has been around far longer than what Newt Gingrich thinks of as “marriage.”
Now, the primary purpose of modern marriage (in the United States, anyway) is to serve as a legal construct by which two people are afforded certain legal and economic benefits. Only social constructs teach us that usually those two people are “in love” and that their union be recognized by religious institutions. The government has no religious interest in the arrangement, nor are those benefits different based on the religion or supposed morality of those involved (two confines usually recognized by most “us or them” religious institutions).
So, really, when Gingrich says that gay marriage “fundamentally goes against everything we know,” he is really referring to religious and/or moral fundamentals – facets linked solely with social conservatism.
Without actually citing passages from the Bible (because that might just make him look as crazy as everyone else running for President), he instead insinuates the collective opinion of the radical Right that the Bible, for some reason, is against gays – and therefore you should be too.
And why is that, you ask? Because apparently, Leviticus says so.
“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (Leviticus 18:22).
“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads” (Leviticus 20:13).
Sounds like Leviticus has some strict rules for the gay community. But, what about everyone else? I am sure it is all just one, big Romper Room happy fest, right?
“If a man cheats on his wife, or vise versa, both the man and the woman must die” (Leviticus 20:10).
“If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her menstrual period, both of them must be cut off from the community, for together they have exposed the source of her blood flow.” (Leviticus 20:18).
“Any person who curseth his mother or father, must be killed” (Leviticus 20:9).
Leviticus also warns not to “let cattle graze with other kinds of Cattle” (Leviticus 19:19), not to plant a “variety of crops on the same field” (Leviticus 19:19), not to “wear clothes made of more than one fabric” (Leviticus 19:19), and definitely never, ever “cut your hair nor shave.” (Leviticus 19:27).
And perhaps the oddest regulations put forth by Leviticus: “People who have flat noses, or is blind or lame, cannot go to an altar of God” (Leviticus 21:17-18).
Sure, that all makes sense. God doesn’t like uglies or anyone who can’t see the donation basket.
Although Leviticus also says a number of other crazy things – as do most books of the Bible, throughout both testaments – “just say no to gay” seems to resonate well with the current narrative of fear and intolerance purported by the Right wing.
According to Deutoronomy, anyone who “dreams or prophesizes anything that is against God, or anyone who tries to turn you from God, is to be put to death” (Deuteronomy 13:5).
It also states that should anyone, even within your own family “suggests worshipping another God, kill them” (Deuteronomy 13:6-10) and “If you find out a city worships a different god, destroy the city and kill all of it’s inhabitants…even the animals” (Deuteronomy 13:12-15).
In fact, just go ahead and “kill anyone with a different religion” (Deuteronomy 17:2-7).
Ouch. With all this death and blood and punishment, one would think we were reading from one of those “other holy books” that Floridian pastors love to burn so much.
God’s word obviously open to interpretation
Let’s say for a moment that we as good, moral Americans choose to live the word of a two-thousand-plus year old document to the letter; an archaic, grossly antiquated collection that was written by men and edited and re-purposed for centuries on end.
Does it have some moral value? Of course – there are virtues of good in the Bible that pertain to charity, peace, respect, community and love that are undeniable.
Undeniable as well is that, according to the Good Book, “If a woman cannot be proven to be a virgin at the time of marriage, she shall be stoned” (Deutoronomy 22:13-21). That sure is going to affect some poll numbers for the Palin clan, no?
Or how about the fact that, according to 28 separate inclusions spread throughout 5 separate books of the Bible, marriage is comprised of “one man and one or more women.” Kind of blows apart that whole anti-Mormon polygamy argument, doesn’t it?
In fact, the Bible lists over 15 polygamists without once vilifying the act of polygamy itself.
If you really want to take to heart what the Bible says about marriage, consider that according to what’s written in books Genesis, Deutoronomy, Leviticus, Kings, Judges, Chronicles, Jeremiah, Samuel, Mark, Joshua, Daniel and Luke:
- Women are property of their fathers until married, and then their husband after that – and are worth the small fortune of a mere seven years’ work.
- Any married man can take on multiple “concubines” in addition to his wives, said man can choose any woman he wants as a wife (whether she consents or not) while fathers can decide who their daughters marry.
- All childless widows MUST marry the brother of her dead husband, rapists MUST marry their victims (unless she was engaged, then he would be put to death, as long as he didn’t rape her in town, in which case they would both be executed).
- Inter-faith marriages are strictly prohibited (which I am guessing still resonates throughout much of Right wing America) and divorce is forbidden (sorry, Newt).
The list surely goes on, not to mention the slew of other non-marriage related factoids that have little-to-no bearing on our modern day society.
So when the Right wing crowd cites the Bible in testimony against gay marriage, it would be nice – just once – for someone to ask them which of the other absurd Biblical principles they feel should be upheld in our courts.
The Biblical concept of marriage is not monogamous nor is it based on love, spirituality or man/woman partnership. In fact, the vast majority of marriage principles cited in the Bible are largely misogynistic and repulsive – which explains why the Right is perfectly fine with them.
Using select Biblical excerpts as some socio-political manifesto in order to explain-away some of the most backwards accounts of American culture has become a mainstay of the Right wing propaganda machine. While it successfully lures in large populations of followers, it also dutifully ignores over two millennia of progress with regard to human rights, sexual equality, international relations, cultural history, technological discovery and the pursuit of scientific advancement.
The Right wing continues to knowingly perform a disservice against the country by insisting on a selective, regressive approach that will undoubtedly threaten the continuity of the American values of which they pretend to revere in front of the masses that cannot – or simply refuse to – know the difference.