Monday, October 13, 2008

The Price We Pay: Theocracy and Prop 8

1 : government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided
2 : a state governed by a theocracy

Our country has a dark history when it comes to practicing equal rights. Native Americans, African Americans, women, Irish, Jews, those of Middle Eastern decent, Japanese, those with various types and kinds of disabilities.. the list is long, the history of each group colored with hate by those who would consider them evil, satanic, different, and lessor. The offenders--those that discriminate--claim themselves morally and legally superior.

We like to pretend in the year 2008 that this thinking is gone or passe at best. For a small number of people it is. But our world remains colored with open, debasing and visceral discrimination, secular and not. Those once themselves discriminated against--from all walks of life and all class levels, ethnicities, creeds, colors and cultures--now stand ready to practice a largely theocratically-based form of discrimination against our lgbt friends, neighbors, church members and others. It is wrong and it is extremely dangerous.

The Puritan beginnings of this country--a practicing theocracy--have well survived the impediments of our Constitution. Our nation, perhaps one of the most socially conservative of the "advanced" nations, still dwells ceaselessly on all dimensions of sexuality while suffering the dual standard of commercialism from Sex Wax to cars. A girl or woman is often still accused of being responsible, through their "dress", for their rape. It extends to how we view the environment (the dark forest where evil lurks), and how some believe the nation should be governed, and by whom. Perhaps more important is why, in this context, someone is not fit to lead.

But nothing--nothing--is so sinister--so calculated--so unAmerican and morally berift as the contention that one knows the mind of the unfathomable God and thereby practices both secular and spiritual hate and discrimination against another, regardless of gender, class, creed, culture or color.

I loathe theocracy and this is exactly the basis of California's Proposition 8.

This proposition--one line of law, literally--seeks to amend the California state constitution: Only the marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

This proposition supported by clergy of many colors and types, seeks to dispense injustice and create two standards of rights in California as though any religious belief has the legitimate right to do so. The irony of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), the Coalition of African American Pastors, and the Roman Catholic Church--each having suffered serious religious and social persecution in this country--which are now coalescing to dispense their version of theocracy upon all of the peoples of California rests piqued to counter persecute in a most calculated way.

Scapegoating, a concept of Biblical origin, is obviously alive and well.

Marriange is NOT a religious contract or venue, it is civil law. One does not go to the church for a divorce, and likewise, not for a marriage. A marriage license is a legal instrument adhering to the state, not the church. NO church is legally required, once a marriage license is obtained by any couple, to "marry" anyone; straight, black, white, gay, Asian, atheist, lesbian, Christian or any other sort or type of human being.

But drafters and supporters of Proposition 8 lie about this either because they can (playing on the ignorance of the public), or because they do not understand the difference between civil law and religion themselves.

From a religious perspective, we do not, in this country, have laws stating what one must or can or cannot believe in. The right to live free of religious persecution is clearly stated in our Bill of Rights:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

So how is it that religions believe they have the right to limit or dispense secular rights? The practice of theocracy--injecting religious beliefs into law.

This isn't just about whether one believes that lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender folks are living "moral" lives. This is about taking that "moral" judgement and spinning it into the fabric of discrimination via the creation of separate laws for separate groups of people. Some people have "these" rights, others have "these" rights.

As an American, Californian, and a devout Episcopalian, I do not believe my church has the right to call for any discrimination founded in secular law. Period. And shame on those who belong to my church, or any other or for that matter no church, that believes that discrimination is ever acceptable or American or in harmony with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

I don't expect anyone to adopt my religious beliefs. One can believe what they will or not. But hands off our state constitution and our federal guarantees of freedom.

No one has the right to limit another's freedom in this country. No one. This is, however--largely in the name of religion--exactly what Prop 8 does.

Don't allow the law to treat people differently. Vote no on Proposition 8.