If you visit any of thousands of RRR websites on the net, you will find one topic that overrides all others as THE issue that "Christians" must fight and must win: stopping the "homosexual agenda"1. And there is no doubt that the number one issue to be stopped within that "homosexual agenda" is "preserving the sanctity of marriage."
Despite the White House's official support of an amendment to the US Constitution to define marriage as one man and one woman, there is not a united front at the top levels of our government. First Lady Laura Bush had stated that any attempt to push such an amendment through could backfire on the Republican party in the mid-term elections. Cheney also does not favor the amendment given that his own daughter, Mary, is an out-of-the-closet lesbian who is speaking out against the amendment on talk shows across the nation.
I have written numerous articles on the subject of gay marriage, from refuting every reason I have ever heard for not allowing gay marriage to demonstrating that the real history of marriage shows it to be a financial arrangement meant to transfer property between generations— and women and children were part of the property transfer. I've written articles that point out the hypocrisy of the RRR's stand: divorce, Britney Spears and shows like "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?" destroy the sanctity of marriage, NOT two people of the same gender who want to publicly avow their desire to be in a long-term, loving relationship.
The RRR will say that gays don't really want to get married and point to statistics that say only 362 gay couples got married in Toronto in the first five weeks after it was legalized. But what they hope you don't figure out is that, if you do the math using their numbers (ie, that gays are only 3% of the population) 11,584 heterosexual couples would have had to marry in order to keep pace with gay marriages. During that same time period, a total of 2816 marriage licenses were issued in Toronto. Of those, 362— or 12.86%— were to same gender couples.
From June 10 through September 30, 2003, (a period of about 2 1/2 months) a total of 757 marriage licenses to same gender couples were issued in Toronto alone. Using the RRR's numbers that gays are 3% of the population, and subtracting the 247 licenses that were issued to US residents in that period of time, Toronto alone would have had to marry more than 16,000 heterosexual couples to keep pace with gay marriage. 157,395 couples were married in all of Canada in 2000 (the last year statistics are available that I found, although if we extrapolate keeping the same rate of increase (about 1.1%/year), that number would be 162,646 in 2003). Assume that the number of marriages was equal from month to month. 2 1/2 months is about 21% of one year. Therefore, 21% of 162,646 marriages would be 34,156. Toronto is a city of about 4.7 million people. Canada has about 32.8 million people. So Toronto's population is about 14% of the nation's total. 14% of 34,156 is 4781. So using the RRR's numbers, gays were getting married at a rate of more than three times that of heterosexuals in that time period. Even using the 10% figure that many GLBT organizations say is more accurate, gay marriages almost kept pace with heterosexual marriages.
Essentially the entire marriage issue boils down to this: the rights and privileges bestowed by marriage are gained by civil marriage. And civil marriage cannot be based on the teachings of any one faith. Nor can the government tell any religious or faith-based community who they can and cannot marry within their community— as long as those communities realize the marriages they perform may have no legal standing in civil matters. It comes down to the separation of church and state, and the RRR is adamant in suggesting that no such separation exists, thereby essentially nullifying one of the foundations of our civil liberties: freedom of religion.
The logic they use to justify this consists of "If the majority wants it, the majority should be able to have it like they want it." For this logic to hold, though, the RRR has to keep perpetuating a falsehood: that the US is a democracy. In fact, the US is a constitutional republic. That means that majority rules as long as majority rule does not violate the constitutionally protected rights of the minority— even if it is a minority of one. The US Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written to protect the rights of the individual not only from the government, but also from the majority. However, by advocating support for Bush's claim that the US is trying to "spread democracy to the Middle East", the RRR perpetuates the belief that America is a democracy while fooling everyone into thinking that they're also patriotic.
Another lie that the RRR perpetuates is that being gay is a choice, despite research that appears to show that lesbians think differently than straight woman and think more in line with the way heterosexual males thing. They continue to insist that gays, unlike heterosexuals in this world, choose their orientation. They claim that anyone can stop being gay and pour tons of money into "ex-gay" ministries despite its dismal "success" rate and the lack of credibility of the leaders of the "ex-gay" movement. John Paulk, the "poster boy" for the "ex-gay" movement, was found in a well-known gay bar in 2000— at least 16 years after he was "cured" of his homosexuality. Gary Cooper and Michael Busee, co-founders of the ex-gay group "Exodus", left the group after falling in love with each other despite their claims that similar "treatment" had "cured" them. Just this past summer (2005), the state of Tennessee began an investigation into a camp for youth called "Love in Action" that uses "homosexual conversion therapy" in a vain attempt to turn gay youth straight. A month later, the co-founder of that group released a letter that says that the organization he helped create leads to "nothing but shattered lives".
But again, the logic that they use seems reasonable enough to fool those who choose not to really think for themselves and think the issue through— something the RRR counts on most people to do. (Yes, that means the RRR thinks that the vast majority of Americans are stupid, ignorant, lazy buffoons who are easily manipulated by slick PR packaging.) Their logic says "You can alway say no to who you have sex with. Therefore, being gay is a choice." But orientation is not about who you have sex with: it's about who you can fall in love with. Not simply who you love, as in brotherly love or the love of a best friend. But to fall romantically head over heels in love with someone. Your gender compared to the gender of those you can fall in love with is what determines your orientation.
Because they preach that orientation is a choice, we get to yet another falsehood being perpetuated by the RRR: that gays recruit, especially targeting children. In a way it's understandable why many people believe the RRR's claim that being gay is a choice and therefore accept that it's possible to recruit. Many people deny their orientation out of fear of social stigmatization but eventually many of them come out as gays. This leads to the appearance that they've "changed" their orientation, but in truth, they've always been gay. The only thing that's changed is they have chosen to stop living a life that is a lie by denying their natural orientation.
Because of the appearance that orientation changes, it's easy to understand why many fear that children— by virtue of their innocence and naivete— could be recruited. But orientation can't be changed and children can't be "recruited". Being gay is as much a choice as being left- or right-handed. Parents can try to force a child to write with one hand when the child is naturally the other-handed, but the child will never feel comfortable doing so and may eventually begin writing with the natural hand. No one knows with any certainty what determines "handedness" any more than they know with any certainty what determines orientation. It just is. Hopefully, someday soon, people will realize that the RRR is just using lies to scare them into voting the way the RRR wants them to vote. For now, however, we have to deal with the lies by countering them with factual evidence that shows otherwise.
In the meantime, the RRR continues to fan the flames of fear: now the big claim is that the "gay agenda" is being forced on children through cartoons: anything from Dreamworks' "Shark Tale" to the Teletubbies to SpongeBob Squarepants. On January 27, 2005, PBS announced it was not going to air an episode of Postcards from Buster that contained a brief reference to lesbian moms. One Alabama lawmaker has even gone so far as to propose a law that would prohibit public libraries from using taxpayer money to purchase any sort of book, magazine, video, etc. that portrays being gay as "normal" or "healthy" or "a viable alternative lifestyle" (although truth be told, there's no more a homosexual lifestyle than there is a straight lifestyle.) This lawmaker has the ear of President Bush, who invited him to the White House to discuss his proposed ban on gay materials in public libraries.
This type of censorship should outrage everyone, but it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to censorship. Complaints to the FCC over indecency have skyrocketed in recent years— from about 350 in 2000 and 2001, to more than 240,000 in 2003. 99.8% of those complaints come from the Parents' Television Council, a conservative-leaning organization. The PTC's east coast office is in Virginia— home to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University and Pat Robertson's Regent University and a very unfriendly state towards GLBT citizens.
Perhaps the most pervasive lie that the RRR puts out is that granting gays protection from discrimination is giving gays special rights. I understand why they believe this since they believe that being gay is a choice. For example, if someone chooses to be an actor and heads to L.A. to make it big, if we were to write a law that guaranteed them a minimum salary every year, we would be giving them special rights because they chose to be an actor and they can choose to do something other than acting.
But being gay is NOT a choice and therefore, granting gays protection from discrimination is no different than granting blacks protection from discrimination or granting women or the elderly or "disabled". The RRR will claim that gays already have the right to marry: as long as they're willing to follow the law and marry someone of the opposite gender. While there are many reasons for getting married, in the vast majority of cases, it is because the two people are in love with each other. Gays do not have the legal right to marry the one they love, but straights do.
The RRR will then go on to say that if gays are allowed to marry, it will force those who think it is a sin to acknowledge that marriage. Perhaps— on a business level— they are correct. But then again, there are those who, on a personal level, do not believe blacks and whites should intermarry and yet are forced to acknowledge that marriage as legally valid for business purposes. Additionally, there are some who believe that divorce is a sin, and yet are forced on a business level to recognize the second marriage of a divorced woman as valid.
However, on a personal conviction level, the assertion of forced recognition is absolutely false— they do not have to acknowledge that gays are in a valid marriage. Nor can legalizing gay marriages force churches to perform such marriages if they find it sinful. The Catholic church refuses to marry someone who is divorced even though divorce is perfectly legal in civil law. What legalizing gay marriage will do is to take away the special privileges that heterosexuals have enjoyed for ages. It will also prevent the RRR from imposing its religious beliefs on the entire nation. And THAT is what the RRR doesn't like.
Most RRR groups do not support hate crime legislation: they see it as another example of how gays are seeking "social acceptance" of their relationships. But hate crime laws, while many are written to protect orientation, protect EVERYONE. If a gay man killed a straight man because the man was straight, then the gay man is guilty of a hate crime. (Of course, that doesn't happen too often since gays are usually the target.) I used to feel hate crime laws were inappropriate because you cannot legislate hate and I believe on some level that all crime is a hate crime. But then I had one of those moments of insight. Someone who specifically targets someone because of (fill in the blank) is using special circumstances to choose his victim— it's not just random. Therefore, special circumstances should be used to choose his punishment if he is convicted of a hate crime.
The real reason, I think, that the RRR is so dead set against gays is that acknowledging that homosexuality is a natural state of being seems to imply that God made a mistake. If what they have been taught about gays is wrong, what else have they been taught that's wrong? And, quite frankly, there are many different ways to understand the passages that are so often quoted as "proving" that being gay is a sin. The way they interpret it may be the truth for them, but they have no right to force everyone in this country to live according to their version of what is true.
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