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Celebrating LGBT+ Love & Marriage Equality

Celebrating LGBT+ Love & Marriage Equality [Photo adaptation of San Francisco Pride 2013 by Joe Parks via Flickr (creative commons)]

Image adapted from San Francisco Pride 2013 by Joe Park. Click to visit the original photo.

You’d have to have been cut off from social media or somewhere without coverage of U.S. events not to know what happened a few days ago in America. But in case you have been: it is now legal in all 50 States for same sex couples to marry, and every state has to recognize marriages performed in other states! This change supporting marriage equality is the result of a 5:4 decision in the Supreme Court in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, which was petitioned on November 14 of 2014, argued April 28 2015, and decided June 26, 2015. The decision reached was that both granting and recognizing same sex marriages are protected by the 14th Amendment, which guarantees U.S. citizens “equal protection of the laws”.

According to Shesgreen (2015), Jim Obergefell, whose name is on the case, and his partner of 20 years, Jim Arthur, who was terminally ill with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), were married in Maryland (where same sex marriage was legal) and flew back to their home city of Cincinnati. When they got back, they found out that, after John ‘s death, Jim’s name would not be allowed on the death certificate. So, they filed a lawsuit to challenge Ohio’s ban on sam sex marriage, which worked its way up the courts, being combined with other lawsuits along the way. Obergefell’s name ended up the forerunner in the Supreme Court case due to him drawing the lowest case number.

Unfortunately, John Arthur did not live to see the happy conclusion of the case. In an open letter sent via a White House email, Jim Obergefell wrote, “My husband John died 20 months ago, so we’re unable to celebrate together the Supreme Court’s decision on the case that bears my name, Obgefell v. Hodges … I can finally relax knowing that Ohio can never erase our marriage from John’s death certificate, and my husband can now truly rest in peace.” Although I am sad for John and Jim that they did not get to celebrate together, I am happy that they may both have some peace because of the decision.

Lady Liberty in SF Pride 2015. Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr (creative commons)

Lady liberty walking in SF Pride 2015. [Photo by Thomas Hawk.]

I am also, of course, celebrating for the fact that, now, everyone can marry whomever they love, regardless of the gender of their partner, or which state they live in, and that their marriages will be recognized no matter where they go. On June 26th, my Facebook feed was filled with rainbows and celebration and good cheer, and it was awesome! If there anyone I knew wasn’t happy about the decision, they didn’t post about it, and I was happy for their silence if not acceptance.

Unfortunately over the last few days, I have seen more and more hate creeping out directed toward the LGBT+ community and same sex marriage, most of it dressed up as part of religion with some even pretending their view is about “love”. If you’re one of the people posting this picture professing to not support homosexuality or “homosexual marriage” (what’s up with the insulting quotation marks, by the way?) while at the same time claiming “Yes, I still love you” and “No, I won’t let anyone bully you,” I want you to know something: At best, you are misguided and have no idea what the words “love” or “bully” mean. At worst, you’re an outright liar.

If you’re the second, then you already know you’re full of it and should probably just get off my blog and find some people who share your bigoted views. If you’re misguided, read on. I hope you can come to recognize that “I love you” isn’t compatible with “I don’t want you to have the basic human right to marry the person you love” and “I won’t let anyone bully you” isn’t compatible with “I’ll support those who would deny you that right”. You’re free to “speak what you believe” and you certainly don’t have to like anyone or anything in this world. But please, stop insulting homosexuals and bisexuals with same sex partners by pretending you “love” them when you don’t even want them to have the right to be happy in a legally recognized union.

Of course there are many who bring up the Bible in defense of their inclination to deny human rights. I’m starting to think that most of the people who cherry pick quotes from the Bible to support this view have never even read the passages, or at least haven’t read them critically. Most of them either aren’t about what people think they’re about or are using words that had different meanings at the time they were written in the language they were written in. I won’t even get into what I think of limiting your worldview to what’s presented in one book, but since some people are doing it, let’s explore for a minute what these often cited passages are even about:

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah people are so fond of bringing up isn’t even about homosexuality. It’s about RAPE. The townsmen wanted to rape the angels. And remember Lot, who said that was “wicked”? He also tried to offer up his virgin daughters to be raped instead. Is this really the story you want to use to attempt to illustrate a moral high ground?

SF Pride 2015. Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr (creative commons)

A point raised by individuals marching in SF Pride 2015. [Photo by Thomas Hawk.]

People are also fond of saying that Jesus was against homosexuality, but it seems he actually never said a thing about it. He did say, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” in Mathew 7:12 (NIV). Would you have the LBGT+ community deny you the right to marry?

Anything in Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy in which the word (or translations of the word) “unclean” or “degrading” are used in possible reference to homosexuality are open to interpretation due to the difficulty of knowing what was originally meant. According to Bass & Kaufman (1996), words translated from Greek as “unnatural” may have just meant uncustomary or uncommon, and “degrading” may have referred to being socially unacceptable (p. 283). As we all know, what is common and socially acceptable can and does change, so these passages are basically all moot in any modern discussion.

You know what is in 1 Corinthians about marriage? “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband … I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:1-7, NIV). That’s right. Even heterosexual marriage is a compromise. Of course, right after this is when it’s said that you shouldn’t divorce and that if you do you shouldn’t remarry, so anyone who is married, especially for the second+ time, feel free to dismount your high horses right…about…now.

And here we are at Leviticus 18:22. This is literally the only one I (sort of) have to hand ya’ll. Depending on your version of the Bible, it does say lying with a man as with a woman is “unclean” or an “abomination”. I could make the argument that lying “as with a woman” would be impossible due to the differing parts thus rendering this passage irrelevant. It’s also my understanding that the things in this passage were all prohibitions to preserve the Jewish identity, so I’m not sure they necessarily need apply to all Christians or should be applied to non-Christians. However, if you want to interpret it that it should apply to everyone and that any “lying with” between same sex partners is wrong, then you better never: wear any type of fabric blend, eat shellfish, eat a medium rare or rare steak or hamburger, or eat bacon, pork, or anything else that comes from a pig. All of these things are also “unclean” or an “abomination” in Leviticus. Anyone still got a stone to throw? Oh, and for the females, you’re similarly “unclean” during your period, so get thee to isolation when it’s your time of the month!

Love Won. Pride Flag. SF Pride 2015. Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr (creative commons)

Love won. I hope you’ll join us on the right side of the law (and love). [Photo by Thomas Hawk]

If you’re one of the rare people who can say that they’ve never done any of the things prohibited in Leviticus—but go back and read it because there’s more I haven’t even mentioned—then I guess you can keep using that passage (although that still doesn’t mean the rest of us have to agree with your interpretation or that you can use your religious book to determine the human rights of others). But I would venture a guess that 99.99% of you using that verse as a justification for discrimination can’t say that. So, you should probably scrap that one, too.

I know nothing I say is necessarily going to change people’s minds. But on the off chance that someone misguided read this and has started to rethink their view, I hope you’ll soon join the rest of us on the side of love. It’s a lot more fun over here, and you don’t have to be LGBT+ to join the party. Allies are always welcome. And of course, if you’re LGBT+ or already a supporter, I hope you won’t let people’s negativity put a damper on what is certainly a cause for much and continued celebration.

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