Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Everybody’s Got a Right…

…and we keep them or lose them together.

All the buzz around gay marriage has been a catalyst for debate and has sparked Americans everywhere to think about the issue and figure out just where they stand. That’s good; we need to be shaken up now and then. Unfortunately, most people are so focused on the specifics in this debate that they’re missing the real issue.

It’s not about gay and lesbian marriage. It’s about personal and spiritual freedom and the separation of church and state.

I’ve written about this issue before, but today I saw a quote that very eloquently captured the real heart of the matter, the thing we should be talking and writing and shouting on the street corners about.

I protect my right to be a Catholic by preserving your right to believe as a Jew, a Protestant, or non-believer, or as anything else you choose. We know that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might some day force theirs on us. -Mario Cuomo, 52nd Governor of New York (b. 1932)

That’s it. That’s what should have us all standing up and saying, “Enough!” The stakes in this game aren’t whether same sex couples can say, “I do!” At stake here is whether or not we will legally allow the religious beliefs of one group to determine the rights of every citizen. And the very people who are most adamantly opposed to the gay marriage issue are among the most religious people in this country. They’re the ones fighting the hardest to win when they have the most to lose.

When we protect the rights of anyone, we protect the rights of everyone. And if we allow the rights of any individual or group to be taken away, we chip away at our own.

“…the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is they might some day force theirs on us.”

Those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds are attempting to force that opposition into law. The same thing is happening with abortion laws, stem cell research, and how we teach science, literature, and sexuality in our schools.

People are taking a frighteningly shortsighted view. They believe they’re winning when they get their way. Look further down the road; what damage can be done by the precedent we’re setting? Winners and losers can change places in a societal heartbeat. You may be thrilled to defeat the gay marriage issue now, but what issue will come up next and whose beliefs will win that one? What if your cherished morality becomes unpopular? Are you willing to put your spiritual path up for vote?

I’m not. And I’m going to keep talking about it as long as I have a voice. I hope you’ll add your voice to mine and to all the voices already speaking up about the dangerous erosion of personal and religious freedom. It’s a bigger, scarier issue by far than having two grooms on a cake topper.

9 comments:

  1. Before the election, I expressed concern that the legality of my marriage might be threatened next - I said, I didn't really think it possible but, hey, it's something to consider. Now, I'm not so sure that my marriage rights won't be revoked.

    You see, I married for the same reason so many gay couples marry. I did not marry so that I could procreate/raise a family/adopt/whatever. I married so that my partner would have the primary say if anything happened to me. I married so that my partner could visit me in the hospital. I married so that he would have a leg to stand on if my family challenged my will. As I understand it, there are still rights that come automatically with marriage that cannot be included in a domestic partnership so that it really is a case of "separate but equal is not equal."

    Now, after the election, so many people are justifying their stand against gay marriage by saying that marriage is about procreation - if you can't or won't procreate, then you can't really be married - that I'm starting to worry. I do believe that some religious group (or several) could become so fanatical about procreation that they would try to pass a law banning infertile people from marriage. I find it possible that my marriage could be annulled because I chose not to bear a child. I believe that fanatics could try to ban marriages involving people past child-bearing age. Why stop there? Why not ban marriages outside of the "correct" religions? It's easy to think that your life is so correct that no one could ever take away your rights. Our world history is littered with stories of the people who "never thought it could happen to me - I was so 'normal'."

    I think my marriage is valid because we went to the courthouse and filled out our application. We passed all the requirements. We got married. I never went to the church for permission - I went to the state. If you want to go to your church for permission, please go. I'm not going to support a law that says you can't.

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  2. Hear, Hear! You said that SO well...and spoke the truth. Why is that so hard for people to grasp?

    Please keep speaking out about this. Words have power; lots of words from many thoughtful people have the power to awaken sleeping minds and preserve free thought and free lives. We can make a difference!

    Thank you for your comment, Lotus Blossom...thank you!

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  3. Anonymous11:02 AM

    I had an epiphany about this issue when I was in high school. We were given the assignment to write a persuasive paper for English class. I chose to write mine on Roe v Wade, and the repercussions it would have it that decision were overturned. I attended a "christian" (right wing fundamental)high school, located in the buckle of the Bible belt, so you can imagine how unpopular my view was. As I grew older and wiser, I recognized the similarities between the abortion debate and the opposition to gay marriage, among other things. You've hit the nail on the head: these issues aren't what we need to debate. The real issue is allowing religious groups to legislate morality. Zephyr

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  4. Jackie9:56 PM

    Hello, Autumn Heartsong! This is my first attempt at this stuff, so bear with me....

    I always wondered why a gay marriage in Maine would have ANY effect on my own marriage of 30 years!! That was the argument...that we had to protect our own marriages. Baloney!! My marriage is strong and solid and no one and nothing could ever change that...so, why are people so darn afraid??

    Peace,
    Jackie

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  5. Jackie...thank you for the comment...you did just fine!

    Your comments remind me of a graph I saw recently at http://tinyurl.com/6mzc7a . I think you might appreciate it!

    Thanks again, and come back often...

    Heartsong

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  6. What a beautiful quote!

    This is Katrina from witchvox, thanks for directing me to your blog!

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  7. Welcome, Katrina...glad you found your way here. Thanks for singing wiht me! Yes, the quote is dead on, isn't it? I find it hard to understand why more people can't see the truth in it.

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  8. here here! now if only we could get people to actually use the gray matter and put it into gear. MAYBE people would see the folly of their ways. But alas - one of the few certainties that i have observed in my short time is that logic, common sense, and decency are all an endangered species - there's just no protective group trying to save them it seems...

    I think we need a button or two...

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  9. Buttons? I like buttons. Do I have any button-making friends? (Why, yes...yes, that is a hint!)

    A protective group to save the endangered trio sounds like a very fine plan. I'm seeing t-shirts, buttons, a website, and membership cards. You can't be a card-carrying member without a card!

    Seriously...there's potential here...

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