BY JAMES NIMMO
From the smallest crossroads, one-stop-light town to the largest state in the American union, religion has stood in the municipal-legislative door to stop the recognition of gay/lesbian civil rights.
Ten countries now recognize and support same-gender marriage. They are Argentina, Canada, Portugal, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and South Africa, according to the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association, [www.ILGLaw.org]. Many of these countries govern their people without the profound religious obeisance that interferes with the passage of any pro-gay/lesbian law, ordinance, or policy in the United States, regardless of the level of governance.
Our national myth of being founded on equality is a shell game.
The real root of America’s founding was the need for a fundamentalist sect to escape to a region of the world where they could call their own repressive religious shots without the need to compromise with other faith POVs. Eventually other denominations and sects infected even the Puritan tradition.
Some colonies required membership and tithing towards particular churches even if the citizen choose not to attend services.
Rhode Island was the first colony to recognize religious freedom of conscience.
Maryland had a back-and-forth struggle regarding recognition of the Catholic and Protestant faiths – each side suppressing the other when they had the POLITICAL power to do so.
Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, from 1779 reads: “[N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”
The language of the Jefferson’s statute clearly alludes to the suppression of freedom of conscience and the coercion of property experienced in many of the Colonies. Jefferson was so proud of this accomplishment that the title is engraved, at his direction, on his grave marker, but NOT the fact he was a president of the United States. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion]
Women are not mentioned in the Constitution and were only recognized as legal voters in 1920 with passage of the 19th Amendment. African-American slaves and the indigenous Americans were specifically enumerated as three-fifths of a person. Several American states had educational tests or poll taxes to maintain power over minorities who the majority wanted disenfranchised from voting or removed from any other participation in the governing process.
It’s no wonder gays and lesbians are treated as non-entities in much of federal law. Every minority in American history has had to fight tooth-and-nail for legal recognition under the law and our gay/lesbian equality fight is no different.
I think the so-called sacred “institution” of marriage is as much a miasma as the myth of America’s founding being based in “equality.” There’s nothing “sacred” about it. Why do the 50 states allow completely secular marriages with absolutely no mention of religious faith? Those non-religious marriages, using only a state marriage license, are just as valid as the recent marriage of Chelsea Clinton and the spending of an estimated $3 million.
The emotional hopes and expectations associated with marriage have long been diminished by the actions of the heteros themselves.
My relationship with my partner has lasted 33 years with total commitment toward each other in spite of the failure of our state and federal governments to give us any of the support that hetero-couples receive, in spite of our paying more per centum of taxes than hetero-couples of the same income level.
My partner and I want the same tax and other economic benefits that the heteros are getting.
Judge Vaughn Walker’s Prop 8 opinion is the very first major statement that plainly addresses the religiously-bigoted and socially-ignorant prejudices held against gays and lesbians. [http://tinyurl.com/28jml6s]
Whether it’s called marriage or domestic-partner benefits makes no difference to us. I’ve long said our gay/lesbian equality movement was using the wrong word for America’s profound sky-god-believing majority to accept. There’s now way too much political, legal, and emotional water under the bridge to recover the separation of church and state argument regarding marriage equality.
We don’t need a religious blessing, societal approval, or the neighborhood welcome wagon to make a stop at our door in order to be American citizens.
We need ONLY the judicial and legislative equality of law – that’s all, JUST THE LAW!!!
We’ll take care of our own private emotional feelings towards one another, thank you very much!
Keep religion confined along with sexual activity – in private – among consenting adults.
– James Nimmo lives in Oklahoma City and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer