Ain’t No Homos Going to Heaven

The following video, which has recently gone viral, is greatly disturbing: a little boy, being clearly coached, is singing a hateful litany about homosexuals – to rancorous approval and encouragement by his adult audience.

The Huffington Post reports:

The congregation in the church, which has been identified as the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Greensburg, Ind., gives a standing ovation after the child sings, “I know the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong…ain’t no homos gonna make it to heaven.”

While this appears to be a relative small community, it’s probably not the only one that promotes this sort of hatred. Even if it’s not as explicit as song-singing, plenty of churches teach young people that homosexuals – among others – are evil enough to deserve eternal torture by their loving God. So many young minds warped into being ignorant and hateful. I almost literally weep for this child.

Thankfully, this insidious nonsense (to put it lightly) is being given the attention it deserves:

A number of high profile lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) bloggers and allies have re-posted the video, including Towleroad and Joe. My. God. All have noted that the child was undoubtedly coached by adults for his performance.

“Interview with a Vampire” author Anne Rice also posted the video to her Facebook page, noting, “In this country, Christians can teach toddlers to hate and to persecute, and we, through the automatic tax exemption for churches, foot the bill.”

It remains to be seen where this pushback will lead. Whether they apologize or not – and I’m not holding my breath on that – the fact this is just a small sample of the hate-driven indoctrination that goes on throughout this country makes me lose sleep at night.

Think of how many kids are being unwittingly manipulated, like this boy, into being bigots, when they otherwise wouldn’t be? Think of how many prejudiced adults would’ve turned out okay if they hadn’t been born and raised in this sort of ignorant environment?

My only source of solace is that each coming generation seems to be more tolerant than the previous, and that many of these children do in fact break free of this brainwashing and abuse, thanks in large part to the better organized efforts of social justice advocates – and their expert use of the internet, which has become a major force in undermining this sort of madness.

It’s a difficult battle, but the social and ideological trends are on our side. We just need to keep pushing.

I’ll end this with a song that Jerry Coyne, one of my favorite bloggers, highlighted for its astute observation. Written in 1949 for the Broadway musical South Pacific, it’s called “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

Poisoning the minds of children is clearly nothing new. But thankfully, neither are efforts to counteract it.

The North Carolina Gay Marriage Ban

The recent referendum that banned gay marriage in North Carolina has reminded me of an important historical parallel: the outlawing of interracial marriage that once existed in several states. It should be noted that in the 1967 landmark case Loving vs. Virginia, which was challenging just such a law, the Supreme Court made the following ruling:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

Replace any reference to “race” with “sexual orientation,” and tell me if there is any appreciable difference. Also keep in mind that, like arguments against gay marriage, many of these racist laws had religious grounds, which should have no bearing on our constitutionally secular legal system.

And despite popular belief, the fact that North Carolinians directly voted to ban gay marriage doesn’t make it legally or ethically legitimate: if people democratically chose to reinstitute racial segregation, it obviously wouldn’t be any less unconstitutional. We shouldn’t forget that slavery was once popularly supported by the people of each slave state. The 14th amendment protects freedoms regardless of who strips them (though whether gay marriage will be a legally recognized freedom will remain to be seen).

I try to imagine what it would be like if homosexuals were the dominant group in this country, and they decided by matter of personal conviction that traditional marriage is a backward and outdated practice that should be banned. In response to this, wouldn’t proponents of heterosexual marriage make the same arguments they currently reject from the gay community – that people have a right to marry who they want, and that the government shouldn’t be in the business of telling people who to marry?

Aren’t these the same conservatives who claim they want small government, and that the state shouldn’t involve itself in private matters? Clearly they will make exceptions when it’s convenient. That’s why democracies are measured by how much freedom they accord to their minorities, who could otherwise easily be oppressed by the tyranny of the majority.

First Post-DADT Kiss

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta, left, kisses her girlfriend of two years, Petty Officer 3rd Class

The photo above has become something of an internet sensation, at least among the online and social networks I associate with. This is the first time a gay or lesbian person in the military shows such affection in public, a few months after DADT was finally repealed. I doubt it will be the last, and with time this sort of thing will probably not be such a big deal. Details below:

A NAVY tradition caught up with the repeal of the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule yesterday when two women sailors became the first to share the coveted “first kiss” on the pier after one of them returned from 80 days at sea.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta descended from the USS Oak Hill amphibious landing ship and shared a quick kiss in the rain with her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell.

Petty Officer Gaeta, 23, wore her Navy dress uniform while Petty Officer Snell, 22, wore a black leather jacket, scarf and blue jeans. The crowd screamed and waved flags around them.

“It’s something new, that’s for sure,” Petty Officer Gaeta told reporters after the kiss.

“It’s nice to be able to be myself. It’s been a long time coming.”

For the historical significance of the kiss, there was little to differentiate it from countless others when a Navy ship pulls into its home port following a deployment.

Neither the Navy nor the couple tried to draw attention to what was happening and many onlookers waiting for their loved ones to come off the ship were busy talking among themselves.

David Bauer, the commanding officer of the USS Oak Hill, said that Gaeta and Snell’s kiss would largely be a non-event and the crew’s reaction upon learning who was selected to have the first kiss was positive.

“It’s going to happen and the crew’s going to enjoy it. We’re going to move on and it won’t overshadow the great things that this crew has accomplished over the past three months,” Commander Bauer said.

The ship returned to Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story following an 80-day deployment to Central America. The crew of more than 300 participated in exercises involving the militaries of Honduras, Guatemala Colombia and Panama as part of Amphibious-Southern Partnership Station 2012.

Both women are Navy fire controlmen, who maintain and operate weapons systems on ships. They met at training school where they were roommates and have been dating for two years, which they said was difficult under “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

I can only imagine how long she had been waiting to express her love for her partner, and how long she had to keep the very existence of that relationship a secret. It must have been painful to be away for so long, never able to express those romantic feelings to anyone, for fear of being blackmailed or discharged. This kiss must’ve felt liberating in more ways than one.

 “We did have to hide it a lot in the beginning,” Petty Officer Snell said. “A lot of people were not always supportive of it in the beginning, but we can finally be honest about who we are in our relationship, so I’m happy.”

Navy officials said it was the first time on record that a same-sex couple was chosen to kiss first upon a ship’s return. Sailors and their loved ones bought $1 raffle tickets for the opportunity.

Petty Officer Gaeta said she bought $50 of tickets, a figure that she said pales in comparison to amounts that some other sailors and their loved ones had bought. The money was used to host a Christmas party for the children of sailors.

Petty Officer Snell said she believes their experience won’t be the last one for gays and lesbians in the military.

“I think that it’s something that is going to open a lot of doors, for not just our relationship, but all the other gay and lesbian relationships that are in the military now,” she said.

Petty Officer Snell is based on the USS Bainbridge, the guided missile destroyer that helped rescue cargo captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates in 2009.

There’s a brief video of their encounter and their thoughts on the matter here.

I believe that if you’re willing to risk your life on my behalf, fight for my freedom, or otherwise serve my country selflessly, then having a consenting relationship with another adult of the same sex or gender is the last thing that will disqualify you in my eyes. It’s astounding how many bigots could condemn and disenfranchise the same people they’d otherwise call patriots (a label these chauvinists would often find applicable to themselves). 

I’m not just making an appeal to pathos – there’s little empirical, scientific, or logical evidence that openly gay troops bear any detriment to the efficiency or integrity of the military. A majority of our NATO allies have long allowed homosexuals to serve openly in their armed forces, and subsequent reviews have yielded no adverse effects. Even the much vaunted Israeli military has opened up service to gays, and its prowess remains well intact.
 
As in most instances of prejudice towards homosexuals, the basis for opposition is largely ignorance and a lack of empathy. I’m pleased to have my fellow citizens back home, and to see them express their well-deserved happiness (and their patriotism) in a manner no different from anyone else – because it isn’t.
 
Edit: There’s been some speculation, which I too shared, that this entire event was staged in order to present a more welcoming image for the navy. The attractiveness of these two women, as well as their having won the lottery despite numerous others buying more tickets, has made some suspicious of the genuineness of this kiss. Since this is just conjecture, and my focus is mostly on the wider significance that this event represents, I’m not too concerned about it.

Zach Wahls’ My Two Moms

A few weeks ago, a  sharp young man named Zach Wahls made a passionate and eloquent case on behalf of retaining gay marriage rights in Iowa (I shared the video here). Among other things, he discussed how he was brought up two lesbians, and how his family was every bit as normal in it’s love as any other.

Indeed, he had a lot to show for it: he’s athletic, well-spoken, an Eagle Scout, and an Environmental Engineering major – he hardly validated the notion that being raised in an “abnormal” family is somehow detrimental to growth and development. As he himself rightly noted – in what I think was his most poignant and powerful statement – no one would even know he was raised by a homosexual couple – “the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.” The love, values, and familial bonds were still there all the same.

At any rate, Wahls’ video quickly went viral, and rightly so. More people have now been made aware of his valuable example, and hopefully there will be more empathy towards those who still have the same needs for love and a family as any of us, even if their sexuality is different. Mr. Wahls will now have a book published soon, My Two Moms, which will share more of his story and seek to reassure other same-sex couples and families that they’re not alone, nor should they feel ostracized.

I’m hoping to get a chance to read it myself some time, since there are few well-known books on this subject (his popularity, as much as his touching account, will no doubt help drive sales). The more consciousness raising this issue will get, the better. It was only a decade ago that a majority of Americans were opposed to same-sex marriage – now, the numbers are reversed (if still tenuous). The more people understand the human side of this issue, the more they’ll support and appreciate love in whatever form it takes.

 

A Child Raised By Two Lesbians

The following video, courtesy of MoveOn.org, shows a testimony by a young man who was raised by a lesbian couple his entire life. He is speaking at a public forum at the Iowa House of Representatives about House Joint Resolution 6, which would ban same-sex marriage in the state (it was legalized by the Iowa Supreme Court in 2009, whose members were subsequently booted out in the 2010 election with the help of anti-gay marriage groups). It’s a pretty potent and passionate statement.

While there is ample scientific evidence that being raised by homosexuals does not result in any social or psychological detriments, I think this young man represents the best proof thus far. Sure, he represents just one example, but it should be enough to at least give pause to those who assume that “non-traditional” families – a cultural and contextually subjective notions – are intrinsically dysfunctional, and unfit to be treated equally.

Even if it were the case that homosexual couples aren’t capable parents, so what? Plenty of people aren’t qualified to have or raise children, yet I hardly see calls to enforce such standards on heterosexuals. If you want small government so badly, then keep it out of people’s private lives and households. If you love freedom and liberty so much, then let others have the rights to do what they want within the confines of the law.

In any case, I hope more people like Zarch Wahls speak up and make it clear that they and their families are no different from “normal” equivalent. Love and social bonds transcend narrow and arbitrarily defined notions of the family. Hopefully, by seeing more of the human side of this issue, those who are on the fence about – or even opposed to – gay marriage may at least reflect on their position a bit more. It’s harder to demonize something when you see the humanity of it.

Questions for Opponents of Gay Marriage

A skepticism blog called Unreasonable Faith has posted five questions for gay marriage opponents to consider. These were in response to a series of questions poised to homosexuals – and their “supporters” – by Christian Apologetic and Research Ministries (CARM). For responses and counterpoints to all 28 of their questions, click here.

These are inquiries I’ve often presented to homophobic and anti-gay marriage individuals myself. They’re as follows:

1. What is natural?

A lot of people like to say that homosexuality is unnatural. I read these statements on my computer, a device made of substances not found in nature and requiring tremendous amounts of human industry to create, maintain and power.

What are our standards for determining what is natural and what is unnatural. Is toilet training natural? Is civilization natural?

2. Is unnatural always immoral?

Consider the old saw, “If God had meant man to fly, he’d have given us wings.” Does the fact that we don’t have wings make flight immoral? Perhaps not immoral, but unwise?

If nature is good and unnatural is bad, how does this square with the common Protestant notion that nature is fallen? To quote Katherine Hepburn, “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above. ”

3. Is the Bible the basis for morality?

Perhaps the most common argument I hear among Christians is about how the Bible relates to homosexuality. Is the Bible “against” homosexuality? Let’s leave aside issues of historical context and translation for the moment.

Consider this: sections like 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 are frequently cited against gay marriage. However, in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul advises his readers against getting married at all. He states, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman,” and while he accepts marriage, it is clearly as the lesser good to celibacy (or perhaps as the lesser evil to fornication.) In my experience, this section is basically ignored.

Is there a systematic means of interpretation that leads to accepting chapter 6 as holy writ but rejecting chapter 7 as irrelevant? Or is it just “common sense”?

4. Why is gender treated differently than race?

Consider the following quote:

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay, and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” (Judge Bazile, 1965)

The above comes from the Caroline County Circuit Court in Virginia, in one of the cases leading up to Loving vs. Virginia. Judge Bazile was siding with the prosecution, who were using Biblical stories like the Tower of Babel and Noah’s Flood the same way that gay marriage opponents use the story of Adam and Eve.

I’m assuming that most of my readers will disagree with this reasoning. Why?

5. Who defines marriage?

Social historians, like Stephanie Coontz and others, have noted that the institution of marriage has been undergoing major changes over the past two centuries or so. Briefly: marriage is changing from a social obligation to a personal contract within the couple. We now look askance at someone who would try to strengthen their community or family by marrying for money and political connections. Most of us believe that marriage should be for love between individuals.

So marriage is becoming more individualized. This is both subtle and profound; it leaves the outward marriage much the same but changes the very basis of marriage on the inside. My marriage may look like my grandparents marriage, but my understanding of the purpose and what my marriage means is completely different.

One of the consequences of this shift is that marriage has become more of a mutually agreed upon contract between two people than something enforced from outside. That makes it difficult to oppose people who want to marry on their own terms: who are you to tell two people that they can’t be in love?

Social transitions like this are never uncontested, but this one seems to have lots of inertia behind it. Do you feel that this shift is good, bad or indifferent? Would you support laws that attempt to reverse some of the trends, like strengthening anti-divorce laws?

Since many of these individuals tend to define themselves as constitutionalists steeped in the American values of liberty and freedom, I would also ask why they support restricting the freedoms of others. If you don’t like homosexuality, than feel free to do so. But where do we draw the line as far as what moral imperatives should be imposed by the government?

Should we pass laws against infidelity, atheism, and other anathemas to Judeo-Christian morality? Would this not present an issue as far as promoting small-government and the pursuit of happiness is concerned? It’s contradictory to stand for individual freedom and responsibility, yet expect the government to involve itself in the private matters of millions of its citizens.

I often wonder how many opponents to gay marriage actually reflect upon their own position. Do they simply defer to the Bible or the teachings of their religious leaders? If so, do they follow everything the Bible says consistently? If not, then how to they discern which parts to apply and which to ignore? Have they at least considered the scientific and ethical arguments? These are questions I would add as well, since doing so is largely what convinced me to change my position all these years ago.

In fairness, I’d ask supporters of LGBT rights and gay marriage to question their own position too. On what basis do they form their approval? Is it also visceral and intuitive, or do they have deeper ethical and philosophical considerations informing them? No belief, especially as it pertains to the rights and concerns of other human beings, should be adopted without proper reflection and dialectic.