Saturday, June 25, 2011

A victory for civil rights

Last night in the New York state legislature, a major victory was won for civil rights and the gay community; New York has become the largest state to legalize homosexual marriage. This is a major milestone that continues Martin Luther King’s dream of a country where everyone is treated equal, regardless of background.
Now, I realize this is a controversial issue, but it really shouldn’t be. As Keith Olbermann said on Countdown, this isn’t about politics, or morals, but about love:

Many people on the Right will argue that same-sex marriage should be illegal on the grounds of the morality of it placed in the Bible. That’s all well in good, except there is something they’re forgetting; Amendment 1 to the Constitution reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What do you know, it’s the establishment clause of the first amendment, stating that government and religion cannot intermingle. So, but that definition, to say same-sex marriage is morally wrong because it is shown negatively in the Bible holds no water. Laws cannot be made on the basis of religion. So any law on the books now that uses language connecting religious morals to banning same-sex marriage should be stricken down on the grounds that it is un-Constitutional. Also, banning same-sex marriage is akin to the laws of the 19th and early 20th century that banned interracial marriage. It’s just wrong. During the 2010 gubernatorial race in New York state, perennial candidate Jimmy McMillan said when asked about his opinion on same sex marriage that "The Rent Is Too Damn High Party believes that if you want to marry a shoe, I'll marry you."

Let’s talk about the actual morals of it for a minute. Do I think it’s morally wrong for a man to marry another man or a woman to marry another woman? Of course not. They aren’t harming anyone else and besides, what happens in the home stays in the home. Many people argue that’s in the Bible that a man should not sleep with another man as if he were a woman. This is true, but there are many other laws in the Bible that are too ludicrous to follow today. Take for example the law saying that you shouldn’t wear clothes made of different kinds of cloth. Check you tags folks, you might be sinning. Or even crazier is the law saying you should kill those who follow a different religion. While radical Islam might follow that, mainstream Christians don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m Christian, but I also realize that the laws of the Bible are applicable anymore, including the one about homosexuality.

I’m sure they’ll be politically backlash since Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law. Conservative judges all across the state will petition it to the state supreme court. But this is the first big step in a movement that ramped up after the infamous Prop 8 passed in California. Will Congress pass a law to extend this right nationwide? Highly unlikely with the current political climate. The Republican controlled House of Representative would never pass such a measure, even with pressure from the President and the Democratic controlled Senate doesn’t have the backbone despite having the votes. Looks like this will have to be taken up by each state as a tidal wave of rallies for it sweeps across the country. I look for this to be first of a series of moves in the new civil rights movement that includes gay rights and rights for two growing new minorities, Hispanics and Muslims. I think MLK would be proud of New York.

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