Intolerance in our society is a disease
Of course gays and lesbians should have the right to marry. Probably the best line to come out of this recent debate has to be, “Gays and lesbians have the right to be as miserable as everyone else.”
If you don’t want to get married, fine. Don’t get married.
But don’t go around telling other people what to do. You have no right to force your beliefs on others. Just read the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It’s all there, chapter and verse.
I don’t know about you, but I am really turned off by bigotry. Can you believe that some people claim to be against marriage equality which would offer same-sex couples the same protections that heterosexuals have (love, health care, insurance, hospital visits and the like) because they think they are saving gays and lesbians from themselves?
This, of course, is such utter patronizing nonsense that it defies reason. Let those people channel their sanctimonious energy into helping poor people or countering all the other ills in the world instead of trying to force everyone to follow their rules.
The recent brouhaha in New York State over marriage equality reminds us that there are powerful forces in the land that would deny each and every one of us of our rights under some situations. Unless intolerance, bigotry and homophobia are fought on every societal level, they will spread like MRSA infections in some health facilities. This is serious stuff, as in a religious leader implying that gays will burn in hell for marrying. Maybe some of those religious leaders should take a look around and clean their own houses first.
The genesis of prejudice is to be found in a single word: “difference.” African-Americans are discriminated against because of the pigmentation of their skin. Just think of it — up until the late ‘60s, some states had laws actually prohibiting interracial marriages. Until a few short years ago, a person of color couldn’t be seated at a restaurant or drink out of a fountain used by white people.
There are kids alive today who have no idea about our painful history. Now the president of the United States is African-American. One of the best congressmen in the country is Barney Frank, but until a court decision here in Massachusetts allowed it, he would have been unable to marry another man if he wanted to.
There’s an old Tom Paxton song that Arlo Guthrie sings all the time. It’s called “I’m Changing My Name to Chrysler,” and in it, there’s a verse starting, “Since the first amphibian crawled out of the slime Š” Well, my bet is that shortly after that, two different guys went to two different caves, looked out and said, “Hey, he’s different. Kill him.”
If particular religions do not countenance the idea of same-sex marriage, that is their right. People can choose to stay and accept that or they can vote with their feet.
Many people are walking away from some religions because, among other reasons, what started as religions based on charity and decency have become religions based on prohibitions. That’s why we have so many emerging religions and so many atheists. It’s also why so many churches are empty and religious schools are closing. It’s why recent polls have shown that a majority of Americans are in favor of marriage equality. Many people, including Dick Cheney, have gay children. Nothing will turn a bigot into a human being faster than seeing his or her child discriminated against.
Some day, we will look back at all of this and shake our heads in disbelief.
Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 6/25/11