To the editor:
Other letter writers are raising a really good question: is voting against same-sex marriage an act of conscience or something else? When a person votes to deny a minority of people a right granted to the majority, what should it be called? If the motivation comes from one's religious beliefs, does that make it okay, is it rising above, or sinking below?
I realize there's nothing I or anyone else can say to change minds about this. But since it's likely we'll eventually be voting on whether to institutionalize prejudice or not, it needs saying anyway: if your religious beliefs are telling you to discriminate against people simply because of who they are, then what's an act of conscience is being able to recognize their humanity and, placing it above those beliefs, voting for justice anyway. Especially when, as in the case of same-sex marriage, allowing those human rights will have absolutely no impact on your ability to continue to live by your personal beliefs. My forty-year marriage will be fine, thanks.
For a society to deny millions of people a right afforded to the rest, there must be a very compelling governing principle. When the only reasons are based on your religion (and when many others of that same religion disagree with you!) clearly that's not good enough. Conscience is stepping up for the rights of others, even when it makes you uncomfortable. Not doing so, and calling it conscience, is no more than rationalization of prejudice.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Kisses On The Bottom
Legislation allowing same-sex marriage has passed in my state, and will soon be signed into law. Already, initiatives are being filed to overturn, and letters of outrage decrying legislators' circumventing the will of the people are filling column after column of newsprint. Locally, some are about a nearby state senator, a Democrat, who voted "no." A disgrace, some are saying. An admirable act of conscience, say others. Pretty strange definition of conscience I'd call it, voting to deny a class of people rights granted to everyone else. Whatever it might be, a brave act of principle it ain't.
So I wrote a letter of my own. Since the last one I sent in on the subject was never printed, I'll print it myself, here, so if it too fails to get ink I can still admire it whenever I want: