More history has been made recently in the fight for gay rights and equality. Just last week, a judge in Texas struck down a ban on same-sex marriage. And in Arizona, it was a decision that can only be viewed as a victory for common sense and justice. Last Wednesday, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed bill SB 1062, which would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians on the basis of religious beliefs. This is a huge victory for the LGBT community, same-sex marriage specifically, but also for our nation and equal rights in general. The fact that legislation like this could even be brought forward and passed the state legislature in Arizona shows there is still a lot of growing up that needs to be done in our country.
The transition from infancy to maturity is not always an easy one. It is achieved through a series of baby steps interspersed with periods of growing pains. This is just as true for a nation as it is for an individual.
America literally changed the way the world worked ever since the “shot heard around the world” heralded in a new era of freedom. It showed a light of hope that began as a distant beacon and grew brighter and warmer until much of the globe stepped out of the darkness, threw off its shackles and embraced a new age of humanity instead of one of tyranny.
The blight on all of this has been our history of discrimination. We still feel the pain of slavery, and other minorities that have been treated and seen as second-class citizens for too long. So much has been healed, but we still show the scars. As the years have gone by and each new generation reflects upon the attitudes of those before them, there has been more of a drive to truly embrace freedom and an inclusive environment where all types of people can live and prosper, no matter what the differences may be. The demographic that has been among the last to be embraced into this has been gays, lesbians and transgendered people.
Time will reflect back on this discrimination with the same revulsion that most of us now feel about the Jim Crow laws or not letting women vote. Much of the same language is used to justify anti-gay discrimination as was used against letting blacks and whites intermingle and have equality under the law. The most vocal opposition against homosexuals has come from specific right-wing groups who cite religious reasons as justification for society to officially scorn a group of people who have done no harm. Lest we forget, our nation’s attitude towards freedom was formed in the Declaration of Independence, not the 10 Commandments. Despite the fact that our country has a history that goes right back to the founding fathers of being a secular democracy, and not a theocracy, there are some who wish to foment hate under the umbrella of religion.
There is an agenda behind this that is far removed from religious principles. If this were really about sticking to the text of the Bible, then it’s ironic that the major target for exclusion would be homosexuals, about whom there are a few vague passages, and not people of other religions, about whom there are many more very explicit references against. It’s easy to take a few lines out of context to further an agenda. Most of the most vocal hatemongers are living a life that is far removed from the teachings of Jesus. Would the “Prince of Peace” likely condone much of what’s being said to bring about hate in this way? I think not!
In Arizona, even many major businesses expressed opposition to the bill. Even many conservative politicians condemned it. Across the country, courts are striking down same-sex marriage bans. It’s dawning on people that you cannot run the same kind of hate campaign, no matter what face you put on it. It’s dawning on people that this is rather childish to continue having this be a stumbling block for freedom.
In our society, it’s time we stopped turning towards discrimination of anyone who doesn’t hurt others, no matter who they are. Homosexuality is neither a choice nor a disease. Love comes to everyone in many different forms. As time goes on, we will start to grow up and forget the repressive culture and religious dogma that we are still caught up in.
We’ve shown the world freedom in the past, but this is one area where much of the world has pulled ahead and can show us something. As a country, we are progressing. We’ve gotten past much of our internal “angry adolescence.” We’re getting there, but there’s a lot more work to be done. And as we experience more victories like we did in Texas and Arizona last week, we’ll be that much closer to seeing equality for all.