Image by freefotouk via Flickr[The State of Maine very recently passed a gay marriage law. The law cannot take effect until 90 days after the close of the legislative session. So, of course, the religious Reich is preparing to force a referendum to overturn the law. I have submitted the following letter-to-the-editor to my local weekly newspaper as well as the state’s largest daily.]
You will soon see petitions and petitioners everywhere asking for your signature to help bring Maine’s new gay marriage law to public referendum. You need to be aware that the people behind this drive are there for religious reasons. Because of certain words in the Bible, they think homosexuality is immoral. Most of us these days understand that the Bible is not an infallible guide to morality, but many others just don’t seem to get it.
While the Bible commands the death penalty for disobedient sons (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), adulterers (Leviticus 20:10), witches (Exodus 22), homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13), and those who work on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2), most of us today understand that killing people for any of these reasons would in fact be immoral. And, anyone who murdered another for any of these reasons today would be sentenced to a long term in prison to protect the rest of us from their warped sense of morality.
I urge you to refuse to sign the petition until someone can explain to you why you should always accept the words of the Bible at face value, or, more specifically, how it would be a moral act to kill your neighbor because he works on Sunday. And don’t let him tell you that Jesus changed all that savage stuff; according to the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus himself says, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” He was obviously referring to the Old Testament laws.
I don’t have the space here to debate whether a God played a part in the writing of the Bible, but it should be blindingly obvious to anyone who has actually read it that the handprints of primitive, barbaric men are all over it. No God worthy of the name would think it moral to force a woman to marry a man who had raped her (Deuteronomy 22:28-29), and no rational God would waste words on a command to not eat lobster (Leviticus 11:10)
The petitioners may tell you they are opposed to the law because they are opposed to changing the definition of marriage, but they are being disingenuous. They are opposed because Leviticus 18:22 states that homosexuality is an “abomination.” And actually, changing legal definitions can be a very good thing. Over the course of our history we Americans have changed the definition of “voter” several times. In Colonial times, voter meant a white man with property. Later it came to include all white men, then white women, and finally African-Americans. And each time the definition changed we became a fairer, wiser, better society.
They may argue that homosexuality is “unnatural,” but homosexual activity has been observed throughout nature, in over 400 different animal species.
They may claim that some people simply choose sin by choosing to be homosexual. But think about it; if you aren’t gay, then exactly when and under what circumstances did you “choose” to be heterosexual? Like many a five year-old boy, I fell in love with my very pretty kindergarten teacher. I made no choice. We don’t choose who we are attracted to.
Equal rights for all citizens is a necessity for a truly enlightened society, and the right to marry whomever one wishes to marry should be enshrined in our laws as a basic moral principle… just like the right to work on Sunday.