A Series of Opinions, Part 1

I’m often faced with beliefs and comments from surrounding citizens concerning a variety of social or personal issues. Most of the time, I don’t engage in direct conversation with folks about these issues because my beliefs and views differ greatly from theirs, and the ensuing argument only succeeds in riling up both parties without changing the mind of either side. Talking to or trying to have a discussion with some about certain social issues is like trying to dig a hole in quick sand – it’s futile. However, with that much said, you probably know where I’m going to go with this. I want to go ahead and put my thoughts out there, and if it initiates a discussion with any reader, I welcome that. But be aware that my beliefs and attitudes will not be deterred. I will likely write a series of posts concerning various social issues, and today I’ll start with just one matter.

I suppose the greatest social issue in our country today is equal rights for the gay community. In the South, I find there is a strong connection between political ideology and religious belief. In respect to legal rights for homosexuals, individuals balk based on their religion. It floors me that the legal and constitutional rights of a group of citizens are denied because of what another group of citizens believes on a religious level. It’s not about fact, what is proven, or what is even historically set out in a governing document; it’s all about what people just “feel.” Here is where I differ from many people around me. I do not think that something political or lawful should be decided based on religion. No, I’m not atheist, agnostic, or even the anti-Christ, but to a lot of individuals in my geographical area, saying that religion and government shouldn’t mix is like sacrilege. I seem to be in the minority by thinking that discriminating against a group of people in the name of religious belief is unacceptable. Giving equal rights to homosexuals is something that falls under a governmental and legal domain, not religious.

It’s all very reminiscent of the civil rights battles fought throughout American history by the black community, and it’s absurd for a young generation to think that something so humiliating and limiting happened for so long in this country. How could a country discriminate and marginalize a group of individuals simply because of what was believed about them?  Notice I worded that question in the past tense, as something that occurred before but infers it’s no longer an issue. I don’t believe that’s true and the question should be posed in the present tense. How can this country, right now, marginalize a group of individuals based on personal opinion and belief? The laws set down by the Constitution should be upheld as a NATION and not left to individual states to decide. If the Constitution isn’t going to be honored as the governing document for the whole country, then it might as well be completely disregarded and replaced. The fact that states are left to individually decide if people should be allowed to get married, or to even define what a marriage is or is not, is ludicrous because some states will continue to be held by discriminatory practices. What if President Lincoln had left the issue of slavery to the individual states’ decisions? Where would slavery still be present? Which states? And what if President Johnson had allowed states to decide if they wanted to adopt the Civil Rights Act in 1964? Where would blacks still be segregated? What if the Supreme Court had let states decide on if they wanted different races to be allowed to marry instead of passing their 1967 decision to allow interracial marriage countrywide? In which states would interracial marriage still be prohibited today? I can say that if it was still prohibited in my state (and if it had been left to the state’s decision in 1967, I strongly suspect it would still be prohibited in 2014), I have numerous friends who would not be married to their spouses nor have the beautiful children they have.

Now bring it back to the issue of religion. I believe that states are influenced by their religious undertones, and as a result, legal rights are not granted by those states. As a result, an issue like gay marriage is not given its due course by the federal government, which is a travesty to the progression of this country.

Let’s talk about the religious group with which I’m most familiar: Christians. Yes, I am a Christian and if further definition or labeling is needed, I’d suppose I’m more of a liberal and open-minded believer of Christ. I use the Bible as a guide for my life, my faith, and my spirituality, but I do not use it to condemn or legally limit a group of people because I don’t believe the Bible is the founding document for government in this country. I put a severe line between religious decisions and legal decisions. They shouldn’t mix. My religious beliefs will not interfere with my ability to recognize that a faction of American citizens should not be denied the same equal and human rights as other American citizens. I can be and am a Christian who supports legal same-sex marriage in this country and that it should be nationwide, because I know the purpose of the Constitution as it continues to serve as a governing document. As the Constitution stated it would “establish Justice” and “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” to all Americans, then it should be honored in its pure and literal sense. The liberty and justice cited as part of the founding of our country should not be mired by religious influences. We cannot all impose our religious beliefs on government and expect the country to stand as a unified entity. So in the end, the rights of the gay community should not be left to individual states or the pressure of any religion.  My hope is that one day equal rights will be granted to ALL homosexuals in this country and that it comes from a federal decision, because ultimately, a federal decision will announce to all Americans (and the rest of the world) that this country still sticks to its founding principles that ALL citizens are afforded the justice and liberties referenced in our great Constitution.

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