Letter to the Editor: PG didn’t go deep enough on marriage analysis

I think Donna Evans of Upper St. Clair meant well when accused the Post-Gazette of shallow examination of the “marriage protection” amendment. 

I am again overwhelmed by the lack of depth of the PG editorial board. Your editorial “Same Old, Same Old” (May 26) espouses the same old marginalization of the enormous societal debate on gay rights to a one-sided issue of tolerance. Yawn! Even the same old divorce rate argument rears its tired head.

This is where I expected her to offer some unique insight into the implication of this legislation.  Something good as opposed to the “same old” one-sided issue of tolerance. 

Unfotunately, Ms. Evans dragged another dusty dinosaur out of the closet:

Herein lies the problem. To deny the religious what is and always has been a profound part of their faith is, now listen, intolerant. To deny gays the financial, health care and other societal benefits bestowed only on heterosexual couples is mightily unjust.

Ms. Evans wants to pit LGBT equality against religious freedom.  What she doesn't acknowledge is that nowhere in this nation does any state entity compel religious institutions to acknowledge or perform same sex marriages.  No ministor, pastor or priest will be required to violate their religious beliefs.

What does happen is that civil employees of the state or county who marry people must comply with the law.  Some cry “what about my religious freedom?”  If we start down this slippery slope of excusing people from their civil jobs to accomodate their religious beliefs, where will it end?  Could a white supremacist refuse to serve African-American children in the restaurant where he works?  Could a Christian refuse to arrest anti-choice protestors?  Or participate in their trial. 

People have all sorts of civil jobs that force them to comply with laws that they may not support or endorse.  There's nothing new under the sun when it comes to civil rights.  Women didn't suddenly stroll into the workplace and get a sunny reception from their male coworkers.  Religious belief does not transcend your civil responsibilities and obligations. 

This is a false dichotomy to stoke the “poor persecuted Christian” imagery with the intent of stirring up the latent zealot in many believers.  You may not feel strongly about gay rights one way or the other, but no one better force you to sit next to them in the pews!  No one better take away your guns, er, communion wafers!  No one better take away your control of women, er, unborn babies!

State Sen. John Eichelberger's bill may be debatable, but you frame it as refusing dignity to one group without any consideration as to how it maintains dignity for another. Semantics may be the problem here, but we all need bigger solutions to this vast and complex issue — whether you are religious, gay or both. Maybe the PG could serve us all better by digging a little deeper.

Donna, the truth is that this issue has been mined to death.  Society is not equal when people are denied their rights because of who they are.  Society is not equal if people can opt out of the laws they don't like.   That's not about stripping people of their dignity, dear. It is about holding people accountable for their responsibilities and their rights.

I personally do not think this is big or vast. The social dynamics of homophobia, especially as they intersect with struggle over class, race, gender and economic condition, are quite vast.  The manifestation of that homophobia in anti-marriage equality efforts is just plain bigotry.  Nothing particularly vast.  The idea that the voters or politicians should decide who gets civil rights and who doesn't should be simple enough, but we have learned little from history.  That's complicated.

The solution will have to tread carefully around the smoldering zealots, tis true.  There is a core group of people who loathe LGBTQ folks and refuse to concede that we deserve equal treatment.  They will use any weapon, including fanning religious smoke screens, to drive their agenda.  Galvanizing persons of faith from within the demoninations is critical.  It is great to have very liberal, gay friendly communities of faith.  I think, however, it would more important for all the Catholic parents (like mine) who love, respect and value their LGBTQ children to speak out from within the structure.  My parents would be very uncomfortable with my trying to change their religion, but they would happily attend my marriage ceremony.  I'm sure there are plenty of other parents like that.

Down with the false dichotomy! 



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