DOMA Unconstitutional, Religion, and the Right to Be Equal
This week the Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. To be clear: Do I think this decision will help black youth directly? No. Am I happy as hell that blatant and intentional bigotry rooted in homophobia, sexism, and religious radicalism is finally legally recognized as wrong in my country? Hell Yes. This is not just a win for the LGBTQ community. This is a win for the activist, the artist, the oppressed, the reformers and the revolutionaries. This is a win for all those who have fought to build coalition and community, those who have died to make sure that those who are born tomorrow, have a better chance to reach their full potential than those struggling today. This win is for the queers of color who were kicked out of their homes because they decided to have the courage not to reject or hide their identity. This is a win for those who are are anti-racist, black feminist, movement builders and rebels. This win is for all those who fight, shed blood, and cry sweat to make sure that the status quo is shifted into a more equal, more progressive, more safe place for those who have been disadvantaged, under privileged, dehumanized, and shoved into the margins. This is a win for my 81 year old grandmother, who accepted all of me, with the only demand of “no one messing with her grandson for being gay.” This is a win for me and the moment I decided to be exactly who I am.
I generally think that the dynamics of marriage in this country can be problematic. But for now, I really would just rather reflect and celebrate the ounce of progress we gained this week for civil liberties and equality in the United States.
Justice Anthony Kennedy posits:
“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
Even though the decision that literally shapes the fight for LBGTQ equality for the next few generations was too close for comfort (5-4 decision), It still causes me to be happy and think about my own childhood and personal struggle for acceptance and liberation.
In High School I went to a church that rallied students to stand in front of abortion clinics with red tape covering their mouth and black marker written on the tape displaying one simple word. “Life.” I never personally went on these escapades, but there was already a contradiction building between my personal life and my religious life, my God and my homosexuality, my religion and my passion for civil liberties.
Beginning from before I was able to read, before I was old enough to understand what homosexuality was, before I began to have an attraction to any type of sex, I knew one thing…being gay was wrong. And I knew this single fact because of my up bringing in the church. The bible verse that is most frequently used against homosexuals in the church is in the Torah, in the book of Leviticus “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination”(Lev. 18:22).
Now multiply that verse by one hundred and you will understand how many times I heard my pastor and his raspy Baptist voice speak this line. I was brainwashed. As a little kid I was taught to think being gay was wrong. And I didn’t have a problem with that for quite a while, until I realized and came to accept that I had some homosexual tendencies myself.
It is funny how this bible verse is repeated so often, yet the bible verse a couple chapters later that tells “God’s People” not to eat shellfish is often ignored at the very same Baptist Church Friday night-fish-fry.
The other frequently used bible reference that is used to quickly give evidence to all homo-phobs that homosexuality is wrong, is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In this story God “supposedly” destroys a city of gay people, because…well…when I was a kid in church, I was taught that God destroyed the city because the people were gay. I encourage everyone not to just listen to these traditional and bigoted pastors about what the bible says, but listen to the theologians that give the other side to this argument.
Youtube wins again…check out the first gay man to be the head of a Episcopal Church:
Neil Lowe chair of the board of the Black Aids Institute was quoted saying: “Today the Supreme Court of the United States has put the winds of progress back in the sails of those of us who are dedicated both to the fight against injustice and to stopping HIV/AIDS in its track, I am emboldened in my determination to fight even harder. I am happy for my fellow LGBT veterans and brothers and sisters in the struggle.”
I could not have said it better myself.