Blog written by Reverend Melvin Miller of the Fort Washington Collegiate Church:
While many debate the issue of same-sex marriage as if it is a religious issue, I contend that more than a religious issue, it is a democratic issue.
History has never stayed on the side of oppression and discrimination. Somewhere in the bowels of America, in the foundation upon which this country was built it held that “all men (and women) are created equal with certain inalienable rights.”
Marriage is one of those inalienable rights.
Every religion has their prerogative to discriminate based upon their personal beliefs about who are the children of God and who are not (as many have and do). But this is the very reason why, in the United States, there is a separation between church and state: so religious discrimination cannot find its way into our court rooms, into our legislatures and our executive offices.
Marriage Equality is attempting to cloak itself as a purely religious character. But this is not the case—not when there are certain rights—political, civil and social—that should be afforded to every single freeborn American, regardless to whether they are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Atheist—rights that are democratic and should be afforded to every single American based solely on their citizenship as a contributing member of the republic.
And Yes, LGBTQI persons have made significant contributions to “Our” America. We have fought America’s Wars, provided her labor, gave her music, dance and the arts, kept alive her flickering conscience, preached in her pulpits, defended her constitution, served as senators and representatives in her congress, proved successful business men and women in her labor market, and erected philanthropic and service institutions of social welfare. Throughout its growth, the untiring time, effort and support of persons who identify as LGBTQI have been most significant, without which America would have no history worth writing.
Either the United States will destroy discrimination or discrimination will destroy the United States.
It is not a matter of IF LGBTQI rights will come; it is a matter of WHEN. Proponents of legalized discrimination, triumphant for the present, are fighting both destiny and fate.
Legalized discrimination has never lasted in the United States of America and I predict that it will not last long in this era. This generation of progressive, liberty loving, open minded and intelligent young people will not allow systematic discrimination to win. Justice, humanity and equality shall prevail—it always has and it always will.
It would be a mistake to think that simply because we identify as liberal or progressive that we will not fight.
As Booker T. Washington once said in the fight for civil rights for African Americans, “You should be careful not to assist in lighting a fire which you will have no ability to put out.”
If we must battle, then so be it—if it must intensify, then so be it. We are ready, and have been ready to provide our blood, sweat and tears in service to the declaration of our own humanity. The greatest victories of humanity have never come without a struggle, without casualties, which we have already had far too many; let us be determined that all the losses of life, dignity, respect and profit to the cause of equality, goodness and fairness were not lost in vain.
If some us fall, which history has shown and the future foretells will occur, you can trust that there will be a great many LGBTQI and allied ambassadors of justice running behind to pick up the torch of freedom, for we will not let its flame die on the pavement of injustice, or in the trenches of discrimination, or even in the fields of prejudice.
And we shall call on the name of our God, and think it not blasphemy, to keep our spirits up and our bodies filled with divine energy.
And we will not think it robbery to use every last drop of our heaven endowed gifts in the service of our vision for equality. With heads lifted high, we will thank God for the choir of activists, preachers, congressmen and women, Senators and bold citizens of this great country, few though their voices may be, who have not forgotten the songs of freedom and the melodies of justice; those who have not forgotten that out of one blood God made all flesh to dwell upon the face of the earth and that every contending yell and scream against that vision is a protest against the diversity of God in the world.
But Heaven is on our side!!! It has always been on the side of justice, and always will.
You can have your narrow minded religious thinkers and preachers, and we will meet you with our progressively, open minded theologians and activists. You can present your emotionally charged prejudices and we will return them with unyielding gestures of intelligence, character and strategy.
We are not afraid of your fire and brimstone anymore because we have found the thirst quenching waters of self-acceptance and affirmation: We, too, are the children of God, and we need not defend our heirship to you or anybody else.
What you propose to do under the guise of marriage equality and the denial thereof is not new in the history of America. There have been times before when civilized citizens have sought to adopt a similarly disdainful position in the treatment of its fellow citizens born and bred on this soil.
It’s naked nastiness and outright deplorable dispositions have proven again and again that the consequences to such positions lay pen and ink to our most embarrassing moments of history – shall I remind us of the civil war, reconstruction, women’s suffrage, and the civil rights movement.
How wonderful it is that President Obama now falls into the line of historical leaders of this nation that have sought, without consultation of popularity, economics, or political gain, but by personal conscience, to make this country better by lifting high the country’s proverbial veil, “all men (and women) are created equal with certain inalienable rights.” President Obama recognizes that while civil unions provide some dignity to same gender loving couples, without ALL rights, it is dignity without strength.
To close, I paraphrase what Reverend Reverdy Ransom wrote a few weeks before Christmas regarding civil rights, and I relate it to this current struggle we find ourselves engaged in:
Members of the LGBTQI community will keep those who intend to deny us our rights busy for the next hundred years and throughout the world; we will not give up; we will not back down. The gay singer is coming with his song, the lesbian poet with her dreams, the bisexual sculptor with his conception of some form of beauty and awe, the transgender orators with their burning phrases, and the gender questioning scholar with her truth – in every domain of thought. So, yet another great marathon of justice and equality begins afresh, and this time we are racing for marriage equality, it is the race of the ages, but as the scripture reads and the song echoes, “We will run until we finish!” The fight for Marriage Equality is on its deathbed in America and the only thing uncertain about it is how costly its opponents will make the funeral.