God, gays and government

Today, Jean and Prentice discuss the effect of same-sex marriage on religion and government. Previously, they debated social ramifications, rapid shifts in public opinion and the campaign for a marriage amendment to the California Constitution. Tomorrow, they'll focus on the future of marriage.

Join us By Lorri L. Jean
I've been looking forward to today's topic, Ron, because anti-gay organizations often use scare tactics and try to confuse people on this one. Many anti-gay religious leaders claim that they will be forced to marry same-sex couples when discriminatory marriage laws are abolished. This is absolutely false.

We don't have to guess about the truth here. All we have to do is look at what has already happened in places where the freedom to marry exists, like Massachusetts and Canada. In fact, no clergy have been forced to marry couples that they didn't want to marry. Nor would they ever be.

But no religion should be able to impose its own rules on everyone else. Including which couples get a marriage license. Legal marriage is a civil institution in our country, so religions don't issue marriage licenses. Governments do. This conversation is ironic because the reality is that, outside of Massachusetts, the laws in our country actually infringe on the freedoms of religions and clergy who support the freedom to marry, not the other way around!

Fortunately, a growing number of respected religious organizations are endorsing the freedom to marry, including the United Church of Christ, the Union of Reform Judaism and the Unitarians (not to mention countless individual clergy members).

The founders of our nation realized that religious freedom requires the separation of church and state. Many of them had experienced the threats to freedom that exist when religion and government are intertwined. They made it clear that such entanglements shouldn't happen in the United States.

Like most Americans, I believe in that separation. I also believe in the other core principles of our democracy, especially the famed "self evident truths" of the Declaration of Independence: that all of us are created equal. That all of us have certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Ron, I want you to have those rights. But I don't want you to be able to stop me from having mine.

The history of our country is filled with examples of religion and the Bible being used as arguments against civil rights progress. They have been used to argue against the abolition of slavery. Against women having the right to vote. Against racial integration. Against the freedom to marry for interracial couples. Against women in the workplace. So, it's little surprise that religion and the Bible are also used to argue against gay rights. When people fear something different, they often use religion as an excuse for opposing progress.

Sadly, some people have irrational fears of "homosexuals" and our freedom to marry. Yet, when they actually get to know us, they generally lose those fears. After all, it's much easier to support discrimination against an abstract group of people.

It may be more difficult for a person's positions to evolve when that person makes his living from opposing equal rights for gay and lesbian people, but I'm willing to take a chance on that, Ron. Let's make this more than an online exchange. I'm inviting you to spend half a day — or even just a couple hours — with a few of the families in the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Family Services Program.

Come meet Larry and Tom, who have been in a committed relationship for nine years, and their 3-year-old son, adopted from abusive parents. Spend time with Corri and Dianne, parents of two preschool-age girls who were severely abused and malnourished before this couple, together for seven years, gave them a loving home through the foster-care program.

Will you join us, Ron?

Lorri L. Jean is the chief executive of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, which is dedicated to caring for the health, advocating for the rights and enriching the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.


On the ball By Ron Prentice
Lorri,

You are both loyal and disciplined. You consistently promote all things homosexual, and you do so with strict adherence to the "playbook." Thus far, our dialogue has been disappointing to me because your responses have lacked any substance. I've been looking for your attempts to refute the concrete evidence that I've provided, but that was wishful thinking on my part. The homosexual public relations "playbook" is titled After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90's, and I think you've memorized it.

A few points from After the Ball are necessary. Authors Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen mandate that the pro-homosexual argument must focus itself on anti-discrimination, "rights," the "victimization" of homosexuals (not as aggressive challengers) and the disparagement of the opposition. To the point, in our three days of dialogue, you have used descriptive words for those with whom you disagree: discriminatory, unfair, right-wingers (hey!), absurd, ridiculous and irrational. That is true discipline, Lorri. But referring to me as hysterical? Considering that I've earned the pet name of "Eeyore" from co-workers, family and friends, that one got a laugh out of me.

Yesterday I provided some research regarding the true ambition of the homosexual lobby's agenda. Same-sex marriage is not the goal. Homosexuality must be accepted and promoted, and those who oppose it must be silenced. Public schools are one of the primary vehicles used for the promotion of gay "rights," evidenced right now by Senate Bill 777 before the California Legislature. SB 777 would mandate that all school curriculums must present homosexual, bisexual and transgender behavior positively. In addition, no instruction, curriculum or activity may take place in public schools that "reflects adversely" on any individual's beliefs. That mandate would be interesting to navigate! Although this country was founded on religious liberty, sexual liberty threatens to destroy the very foundation to which you earlier referred as part of America's backbone.

Sexual liberty is in direct conflict with orthodox religious liberty. Making marriage only a religious institution is a moot point based on the public agenda of the homosexual lobby. Homosexual activists will not be satisfied until one of two things happen: religion becomes an advocate for homosexuality or is silenced by legal action. What does this mean for churches and synagogues in the United States? We already see the effects in other countries. In Canada, no comments that oppose the homosexual lifestyle — religious or otherwise — may be sent over the public airwaves without potential for arrest. Something would have to go in the United States too. Freedom of speech?

You have mentioned some religious denominations that have endorsed homosexuality, but by and large the religious community remains a major obstacle to homosexual activists. You can't convince me that you'll stop at the door of the church or synagogue. Please don't refer to that statement as hysterical. Evidence abounds from the "playbook."

Ron Prentice is the chief executive of the California Family Council, which is dedicated to the protection and promotion of Judeo-Christian principles in California's culture. CFC has offices in Riverside and Sacramento.

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