I watched an episode of 'The Tyra Banks Show' today, titled 'Gay is the new Black', a show dealing with the LGBT rights movement. I was, obviously, pretty infuriated by what some of the people said and so I wanted to write down a few things. If, and I say that with a BIG if, I had to ever discuss marriage with a Christian fundamentalist, here's what I would very calmly explain:
- Being gay is not a choice. No one in their right mind would wake up one day and say to themselves 'Today, I want to be discriminated against, treated like a second class citizen, called names and stared at.' If being gay was a choice, then homosexuality wouldn't exist in parts of Africa, Southern Asia, parts of The Middle East and parts of Central Asia because there, being gay is illegal, with penalties ranging from fines to death sentences. Who would want to be executed based on a choice? (Source)
- Marriage has been continuously redefined throughout history. In ancient Europe 'marriage was more or less a business agreement between two families who arranged the marriages of their children' (source). In 1967, the American Supreme Court overturned the ban on interracial marriage. That happened just 42 years ago! (You can find an interesting timeline to the history of civil marriage in the US here.)
- Jesus was friends with the outcasts, he talked about love and humility and turning the other cheek and forgiveness of sin. "Let the person among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." Hate and judgment are not Christian values.
- Maybe the most important point: Marriage equality is not about the church. Equality is about the law. Religious freedom is protected by the law just as gay rights should be. No person in their right mind would try to force your church to marry gay couples. Marriage equality is about the 1,138 statutory provisions (rights, benefits, privileges) that the state allows married couples. This has nothing to do with your church or your religion or your faith. It only has to do with equal protection under the law.
Now that I've written down the most important points I would mention, I feel slightly better because all of that makes perfect sense. But when I think about it I just get frustrated again because I KNOW that it is pretty much impossible to get these points across to a religious fundamentalist. Mainly because they have God on their side and if God is on their side, they are invincible! *Big Sigh* And that is why I try to stay away from overly religious people and not get sucked into discussions like that, because there is just no way I can have a decent conversation about this.
I have to quote Tyra because she said something really true and beautiful: "I do respect everybody for their beliefs, you know, I respect this side and I respect this side, everybody is entitled to their opinion, but one thing that is important to me is realizing pain in a human being and whatever you believe, whether you don't approve, [...] how they live their life. To me, what hurts is the lack of empathy for pain. Not gay, not straight, but pain."