Social Change: The Gay Rights Movement and Why it Matters

For those of you who know me well, my stance on the gay marriage issue is well-known.  It’s one of the few issues I have a hard and clear stance on.  In most things, I like to be somewhat open-ended with my viewpoint, but in this one particular case I staunchly support the gay rights movement despite not being gay myself.  I don’t budge and I don’t second guess myself when it comes to this issue.

Despite it being an ongoing issue, it actually hasn’t been in the media much lately.  Aside from the Arizona law a few months back (which was ceremoniously shut down thankfully), there hasn’t been much in the way of news surrounding the issue.  That’s why I am writing this post, to keep the issue fresh in people’s minds.  We cannot forget that the issue exists, or else we will slide backwards.

So today I’m going to explore my own viewpoint on it.  But before I start, I want to reiterate the fact that what follows is simply my opinion on the matter.

What God Says

The most common thing I’ve heard when it comes to the gay rights debate is that God says this, God says that, the Bible states this, the Bible proclaims that, so on and so forth.  Putting aside the fact that the church and the state are separate entities in this country for a moment, the argument founded under religious principles is inherently flawed.  First off, there wasn’t even a word in Hebrew for “homosexual” at the time much of the Bible was written.  Secondly, most of the time the Bible even refers to something akin to homosexuality it is referring to, at least to my knowledge, male pleasure seekers (read: prostitutes).  So to base your argument around words meant to describe male prostitutes means you are essentially lumping all gay people into one category, and as we all should know, no one likes that.

To label all homosexuals as prostitutes is obviously plain judgmental, but that seems to be what people are doing when they use arguments from the Bible.  Whenever they say “God hates gays” or “homosexuality is a sin” or anything like that, they are essentially saying that all gay people are male prostitutes (apparently lesbians aren’t a thing according to the Bible, sorry ladies).  Now I must admit, I have never read the Bible in its entirety, but I’ve been exposed to enough passages from it to make a reasonable interpretation on its stance on homosexuality.  And as far as I can tell, it has very little to say.

And besides, who in their right mind really believes that God could be that petty?  A being so powerful he created an entire universe, but so narrow-minded that he can’t handle the idea of two same-sex people making googly eyes at each other.  It seems so ridiculous, but that’s how certain Christians view him.  Which is to say nothing of the fact that the Bible has been translated hundreds, if not thousands of times.  So we also have to consider that any references to homosexuality may have been tailored to do so by certain societal forces.

Of course, all of this is really a moot point because of the separation of church and state in this country.  Because yes, marriage is not a uniquely Christian concept.  Marriage has existed all throughout history, even in ages that predate Christianity.

The Secular Factor

But the opposition to gay marriage isn’t uniquely a religious program.  Religion is a major part of it, but there are secular arguments against it.  These arguments are no less important than those based upon faith, and are just as dangerously narrow-minded.

One of the most common ones I hear is that gay marriage is “unnatural”.  Not only is this incredibly presumptuous, but it’s also completely flawed.  We can’t start making distinctions between what is “natural” and what is “unnatural”, because on some level we are all a part of nature.  We can’t escape it, despite how often humanity has tried.  We can make gods, we can presume ourselves to be of divine significance, we can give ourselves purpose.  But regardless, we exist along with everything else on the planet.  We are not separate, we are one with the world at large.

And besides, homosexuality in nature is actually a thing.  Around the turn of the century, homosexuality had been observed in nearly 1,500 species of animals.  So this “sin against nature” actually occurs within nature itself.  Can nature be unnatural?  I’d love to see someone try to make that argument.

I must admit that the scientific evidence surrounding homosexuality in animals is a little confusing.  For example, homosexuality in animals seems to be choice driven at times, or at least driven by an environmental condition where there is a shortage or even absence of opposite-sex partners.  But in humans, it seems to be hard-coded from the start.  And to those who would argue that it’s not I ask only this: who would choose to be a social pariah?  Who would choose to be ostracized by their peers, or disowned by their parents because of their sexual identity?  Who would choose to be a target of bullying and oppression?  Who, I ask.  Who?  Besides a social masochist, I don’t think anyone would.

I’m willing to bet that there are a decent amount of people who wish there was a switch they could flip to not be gay, so that they could avoid all the social backlash.  We live in a country where despite our progressive appearance, we continually harbor prejudiced feelings towards those who are different.  If you look, you will see.  We fear those we don’t understand, and in our minds they are all against us.

“Why can’t they wait?”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a statement like this:

“Well why are they pushing gay marriage so hard?  Can’t they wait until we settle our other issues first?”

No, they can’t.  Because where does it end?  America has always had problems, and it will most likely continue to have problems for as long as it exists.  The fact is that if we tell people to wait until we deal with other issues or until the climate cools down or whatever colorful euphemism you prefer, then we might as well be telling them to not bother at all.  It’s like when you tell someone you don’t particularly care for that you just don’t feel like hanging out tonight because you’ve got other plans.  It might be what you say, but chances are that both of you know exactly what it really means.

You can’t just stop social change once it starts.  That’s not how it works.  When someone or a group of people are unsatisfied with their quality of life, you can’t just tell them to hold on a bit longer because they’ve BEEN holding on for a long time.  They’re sick of it and they want change.  And they won’t stop just because someone better off than them thinks it’s too “controversial” or “unimportant” to deal with at this present time.  Such a course of action is nothing but a stopgap measure.  It’s a way to keep tensions down while not addressing the real issues.  And if they’re been waiting for the better part of two decades at least, then why should they have to wait any longer?

Do you think Martin Luther King Jr. ever considered the possibility of “waiting for a bit longer”?  No way.  He even addressed the idea in the famous letter he wrote while in Birmingham Jail.  He couldn’t stop the masses from demanding equal rights even if he wanted to.  You can’t stop social change once it starts.  It’s an unstoppable force, and there is no immovable object in sight.

Closing Thoughts

All throughout history social change has been opposed by one group or another.  Inevitably, these groups lose the fight because they are the products of a dying age.  They are clinging on to their old ideas of “the way things used to be”.  But change is inevitable.  In much the same way as the leaves change color and fall every year, so too will new generations of Americans bring new ideas to the table.  Their ideas might not always be great, but they’ll come about just the same.  We can’t live our lives if we keep our heels dug in the past.  Eventually, we have to move forward.

And that’s why I care so much about this issue.  I want things to change.  I’m not satisfied with the way things are going, and I probably won’t ever really be satisfied.  There will always be something to debate, something to change.  If history has proven anything, it’s that humans are constantly in a state of flux, trying out new things and new ideas.

The people who are against gay marriage are on the wrong side of history.  Change is coming, there is no doubt about that.  The only thing we can do is speed it up or slow it down, but eventually it will reach its destination.  The only real choice to make is which side you want to be on.  Change isn’t always unstoppable, but when it comes to basic human rights, it is essential.  To fly in the face of such a thing is to fly in the face of common human decency, and I do not say that lightly.  I very rarely take such a hard stance on things, but there is no budging for me.  If you are going to deny someone their human rights, then I will deny your humanity.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.  I really do care about this issue a lot.  It’s one of the few things that I get really fired up about, so again, thanks for reading.  Next week’s post probably won’t be as dramatic or intense.

Tune in next Wednesday at noon for a new post.  Until then, have a wonderful week everybody!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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