Once again the forces of ultra-conservatism are on the march in Pennsylvania. Once again, their target is the GLBT community. This conservative force is made up of rightwing religious elements, national conservative groups, and special interest segments of the far right that just aren’t satisfied enough with the fact that there is already a DOMA law in Pennsylvania that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
This union of intolerance is determined to take the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a document that grants rights and privileges and add to it discrimination, prejudice, intolerance, and second class citizenship to this majestic document. Why is it that these groups never come together for the purpose of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless? Those who claim to be Christians act in a way that shows them to be anything but Christians. Christ left us with one simple commandment that rose above all others: To love God, and to love one another.
I am still waiting for someone from the far right to answer a basic question: How does preventing two members of the gay community from uniting as a family protect your own marriage that has a 50% chance of ending in divorce? What possible threat is there to you other then touching upon some inner insecurity?
Marriage is not a religious institution; it is a civil matter between two parties. The Church does not “marry” couples; it witnesses the exchange of vows. Without a civil license issued by the government, no marriage is possible. No church will be compelled under any legislation anywhere to perform a ceremony for a gay couple if it is not already part of the norm for that church. Any suggestion to the contrary is nothing more then scare tactics, which is a favorite tool of the right.
So what is really at issue here is whether or not gay people have access to the same government processes that all other residents of the Commonwealth have access too. The taxes paid by gay people go to the same government that everyone else’s taxes go to. They support the same public agencies and pay the salaries of the same employees as everyone else does. Shouldn’t gay people have access to the same benefits of their taxes? The only fair alternative would be to cut taxes for all gay people throughout the land. Shall we amend the Constitution to allow for this while equal access to a marriage license is denied? It is either that or equal access for all.
But this conservative drive goes even further. They wish to see the ability of two people to enter into a contract restricted based on their sexual orientation. This is a fundamental constitutional right that is at stake here! The most disgusting part of their renewed drive for hatred is their desire to remove any partner benefits such as health care. Health care! Most of the large corporations in America now provide the same benefits to their gay employees as they do their straight employees. It costs the company no more then if they had an all heterosexual workforce. This petty, hate-filled group wants to tell corporations who they can extend benefits to and who they can’t. If one of the partner’s in a same-sex relationship gets sick, and has no health insurance of his own, and was prevented by some archaic law from getting his partner’s benefits, then who pays for that health care? The taxpayer, that’s who; so which is worse, a partner’s health insurance benefit or the taxpayer paying for that care?
Finally, one of the biggest arguments the right likes to tout as justification for denying equal rights to the gay community is that it might influence their kids. Utter and complete ignorance is the only answer as to why the right believes that a child will become gay if he or she sees a gay marriage. They just don’t get it. A person is born gay; he or she does not choose to be gay. One cannot “change” a straight kid into a gay one if it isn’t already in the genes of that child.
The only thing this kind of law does is potentially deny their own kids or their grandkids equal access and rights under the law. Because there have always been gay people, and there will continue to be gay people and nothing the right does can change that basic fact. I urge all fair minded people to contact their state senator and urge him or her to vote against any constitutional amendment that restricts the equal rights of the entire citizenry of this great Commonwealth. It is time to diverge from the ultra-conservative path in this country, for we have seen what that path has done to the honor, freedom, and moral standing of the United States. It has brought us to the near edge of destruction.
Archbishop Bruce J. Simpson, OSJB, is the author of “The Gay Face of God” and “If He’s Queer He Musta Done It”. A Vietnam Era Veteran, former Police Officer of the Year, a Federal Agent, a Federal Magistrate, an armed bodyguard to Saudi Royalty, a senior Federal Government executive, and recipient of awards from the Vice President of the United States and the Secretary of Treasury.
While studying at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary and Theological College at the Catholic University of America, he decided that his own conflict of conscience would not allow him to go on to ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. He was ordained a deacon in the Old Catholic Church in 1995, a Priest six months later, and was called to the Episcopacy in early 1999. On January 30th, he was consecrated a Bishop of the Catholic Church. In 2002, he was consecrated sub-conditione by a Roman Catholic Archbishop, three times removed from Pope Paul the Sixth.