In The Advocate (12/2/2009) it stated: “The New York state senate on Wednesday voted down a marriage equality bill by a wide margin following months of delay and protracted political drama. In a special legislative session, the senate voted 38-to-24 against the bill, eight votes short of a majority, with no support from Republican senators. A state assembly marriage bill had passed for a third time late last night. Governor David Paterson, who made marriage equality a centerpiece of his agenda, issued a statement a few hours after the vote that acknowledged the widespread sense of disappointment among advocates for the bill.” New York City is my old stomping grounds! It was progressive forty years ago when I left, and I assume that it’s progressive now! I remember thinking after I left NYC that I didn’t merely leave another state, but I left another country! I didn’t appreciate the cosmopolitan nature of NYC when I lived there for 28 years until I left it! However, other parts of New York State are not that progressive and, although I don’t know what political motivations and machinations ensued to make possible this defeat for equal rights, I do know that “hate” was and is the major motivator when religious leaders and politicians seek to deny equal rights to any minority group! The distortions and downright lies perpetrated about Gay people, not the least of which is that Gay merely equals Sex, has a lot to do with such defeats that occurred in New York. People are not told that same-sex couples love each other every bit as much as heterosexual couples love each other, and that to deny the same dignity and rights that accrue to heterosexuals to same-sex couples is to deny their love the dignity it deserves, and deny Gay people equality that the Constitution assures us belongs to every citizen in the U.S. This is one of the reasons that I’m against “civil unions,” in that this man-made construct sees same-sex love to be of a different order than is heterosexual love; views and treats same-sex couples differently than heterosexual couples. I can’t but believe that politicians who want to get re-elected are greatly influenced by homophobic clergy who have undeserved but great influence in the larger, secular, society, taking upon themselves the undeserved mantel of being the arbiters of “morality,” and thereby sadly convince most of the electorate that being Gay is “immoral,” and that same-sex marriage is similarly “immoral.” Hence, the ignorant and/or hatefully based hyperbole that same-sex marriage will destroy the family, hurt children, force schools to teach homosexuality, hurt clergy and churches, etc. Let’s make no mistake! This defeat in New York and other defeats for same-sex marriage that have been suffered is not about the well being of the family, children, or the larger society. Whenever any politicians or clergy seek to deny equal rights to Gay people, it is about “hate,” and about nothing else! And they can couch their hateful animus in unctuous, sanitized, sanctimonious rhetoric all they want to, but the bottom line is that they are ignorant haters, and they must be exposed and confronted for that fact! And the gullible lemmings who follow their lead are no better; only more pathetic, for they don’t get any of the rewards of the hateful clergy and politicians, save for satiating their hateful animus that is primarily fueled and fostered by ignorant and/or mendacious clergy. The irony of outcomes such as the failure of same-sex marriage in New York, and the egregious ballot initiatives in other states that are mightily influenced by professing Christian clergy, is that the myth of the separation of Church and State comes to the fore, and that clergy, even presumably celibate clergy, have a tremendous influence on the fate of same-sex marriage rights in the states where those rights have been (unconstitutionally, I believe) put to the vote of the electorate. Since God created Gay and Straight (and bisexual and transgender) people, God wants us to live abundant lives that only comes from living lives of authenticity that comes from partaking of the unique gifts, among them our sexuality, that God has conferred upon us. And like being Straight, being Gay is a gift from God, and to deny that gift is to not only stunt the spirituality of that person but is tantamount to throwing that wonderful gift back in God’s face. Moreover, the denial of marriage rights to Gay people bears no relationship to our Constitution that makes clear that “all people are created equal,” and that “separate is not equal.” Let’s be spiritually and intellectually smart enough to have learned from the “season of suffering” endured during the African-American civil rights struggle, and let’s not have to repeat that trauma for Gay people, for their allies, and for this country! The suppression of others’ healthy expression of their sexuality, the projection of one’s ignorant and/or warped views of sexuality onto others, and the condemnation of the sexual lives of Gay people, bear no relationship to Christianity! In this connection, I want to recount what James Hipps on the blog, “Gay Agenda,” wrote: “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it now … again, the anti-gay movement in this country is NOT about marriage. It’s NOT about the sanctity of a religious institution. It’s not about protecting anyone or anything, it’s about hate, intolerance and bigotry.” Amen!
Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. He also published a blog called “A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights” and the website Radical Christianity.