Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What the Bible says...and more.

(Originally posted on MySpace on Sunday, September 14, 2008)

About a month ago, I got an email from my Uncle Norm. Norm is my father's brother and I was surprised to hear from him since I hadn't heard a word for close to a decade and a half or more.

When I opened the email, I was greeted by a barrage of angry words basically telling me I was out of line to blame all the world's wrongs on the USA. He raged against the Hollywood elite and ranted about flooding in the Midwest that goes ignored. I had no idea what he was talking about and wrote back asking him what was going on.

A few days later, I received another angry email ranting about the same things. This time I lost my patience and wrote back telling him to grow up and stop sending me crap that made no sense. I told him I would be glad to answer him if he could explain what it was that set him off.

Another few days went by and he finally wrote back telling me that his wife, Dolly, had found some website on the internet that included me ranting about something or other. He included a quote that I recognized as something I had said on a Usenet group back in the early 90s. But it also wasn't the complete rant I had written and by taking that one quote out of the rant, he was reacting to it out of context.

So, once again I wrote back to him, explaining exactly what I said and why I said it and reminding him that if he is going to react to things people write, he needs to be sure of exactly what they wrote. And he wrote back, this time apologizing and claiming that now he understood what I was trying to say way back then.

But then I got some long, rambling message from him explaining his solutions to this country's energy problems. I read the whole thing and I have to admit I only understood a small portion of it. I suspect that somewhere in there were points that were valid and should be taken seriously, but at this point, I don't have the time to spend on something like that and I wrote back and told him just that.

But, he also included the short passage that I have highlighted below, and I will always have time to answer questions about that subject. I spent a good time on my answer to him and after sending it, I haven't heard another word from him.

I've decided that I put too much work into my reply to just let it go ignored, so I decided to publish it here for you all to see. There was some personal, family stuff that I edited out, but what follows is pretty much word-for-word what I wrote to him.


I talked to your Dad a minute ago and he said you still had issues on your marriage.

I don't have any issues on our marriage, but bunches of other people seem to have issues with it. It's looking very likely that Proposition 8, which would change the California Constitution, is not going to pass, although that's never sure until it's sure. Even if it passes, there are other legal questions that will be fought in the courts for years. Skip and I will probably continue to stay married until those are worked out and beyond.

Sorry about that because I thought this issue was closed in my mind and California. I am only for marriage between a man and woman. This is a basic religious value and has nothing to do with your choice.

Well, there are two problems with your statement above.

The first is your use of the word "choice". While its still a while until science has 100% proof, there is enough proof that most credible scientists now believe that homosexuality has nothing to do with choice. It's not a disease, mental or physical. It is what it is. I mean, really Norm, when you reached puberty, did you wake up one day and ask yourself, "Should I be attracted to men or women?" I don't think so. You just knew what you were attracted to and acted on it. There was no choice involved.

The only choice I had to make was whether I was going to be true to myself or if I was going to remain miserable in the closet, as I did through most of my teenage years and into my 20s. You, or my dad, have no idea of the pain and anguish I went through trying to deny I was what I was. It was such a relief when I finally decided to admit it and get on with my life.

The second problem I have with your statement is the religious aspect.

I have read the Bible from beginning to end. In fact, I have read several interpretations of it. There is very little reference in the Bible about homosexuality. Most places where religious conservatives make claims that the Bible condemns homosexuality are vague and can be interpreted in many different ways. The notable exception, and the one that most bring up as a clear condemnation, is Leviticus. The problem here is that Leviticus condemns 16 different acts, homosexuality being only one of those. It also condemns: Eating shellfish, Eating pork and rabbit, Adultery, Cutting your hair and beard if you are male, wearing unnatural fibers, and it calls for animal sacrifices to God. It also calls for the death of any child who is disobedient to its parents. There's much more there as well. All of it, except that one passage, is ignored. Now, how do you justify pulling one law out of Leviticus and saying that it's the word of the Bible and God, while ignoring all the others because they're inconvenient?

Besides, the whole idea of Christianity is Jesus Christ's teachings and Jesus set aside all the Old Testament to preach a gospel of love and acceptance. Jesus never once made any reference to homosexuality, at least in the Bible.

Several modern day Bibles use the word "homosexuality", which I find strange considering that there was no such word until a little over a hundred years ago. It's all a matter of personal misinterpretation. (And that goes for the story of Sodom and Gomorra as well, which has little to do with homosexuality and more to do with lack of hospitality and sexual depravity of all kinds.)

Plus, there are three same-sex relationships in the Bible that get ignored, or denied, by many people. There is Ruth & Naomi (The Book of Ruth), David & Jonathan (The Book of Samuel 18:1 and beyond), and Daniel & Ashpenaz (The Book of Daniel). If you read the description of these relations in the Bible, at least in a Bible where they are not edited out, it sure seems that God is blessing these relationships.

I'm sorry Norm, but I don't buy the religious argument. The way I see it is that people use the Bible to justify their bigotry, even when they don't think they're being bigoted.

To suggest we need a change in our founding constitutional position is way out of control.

This I agree with.

Please provide me with where you and Skip are being separated from the position I have above. What do I have that you and Skip do not have ?????

There are some 1400 legal rights that are given to married couples in this country. About 1000 of them are federal benefits and about 400 of them are state benefits. Many of these can not be privately arranged or contracted for. Some of them are given to couples in civil unions, but many are not, especially when it comes to the many federal benefits. Among them are the rights to: joint parenting; joint adoption; joint foster care, custody, and visitation (including non-biological parents); status as next-of-kin for hospital visits and medical decisions where one partner is too ill to be competent; joint insurance policies for home, auto and health; dissolution and divorce protections such as community property and child support; immigration and residency for partners from other countries; inheritance automatically in the absence of a will; joint leases with automatic renewal rights in the event one partner dies or leaves the house or apartment; inheritance of jointly-owned real and personal property through the right of survivorship (which avoids the time and expense and taxes in probate); benefits such as annuities, pension plans, Social Security, and Medicare; spousal exemptions to property tax increases upon the death of one partner who is a co-owner of the home; veterans' discounts on medical care, education, and home loans; joint filing of tax returns; joint filing of customs claims when traveling; wrongful death benefits for a surviving partner and children; bereavement or sick leave to care for a partner or child; decision-making power with respect to whether a deceased partner will be cremated or not and where to bury him or her; crime victims' recovery benefits; loss of consortium tort benefits; domestic violence protection orders; judicial protections and evidentiary immunity; and more....

As soon as Skip and I got married, our insurance rates went down, which is a really great thing for people like us who are living from moment to moment.

But most important to me is just that public recognition of a loving relationship. Skip and I have been together in a monogamous, loving relationship for 28 years now. That's longer than my Dad and mom's marriage lasted and it's longer than he's been with Barbara. It's longer than any one of my brothers or sisters. It's longer than most heterosexual marriages last these days. We have built a life, a home, and a family together. (And I know that's stretching the meaning of the word family for you, but that's what our network of friends, relatives and pets are to us.) We pay the same taxes that our government wastes that you do and we deserve the same respect and recognition that you do. Civil Unions are not the same and are not equal, and this is a country of equality.

Most of the arguments, from religion to children, are the same as they were when mixed race marriage battles were being fought several decades ago. In the end, those same arguments will be shown to be as silly now as they were back then.

And one more thing. This is mainly an answer to something my dad said to me a while ago. I'm assuming you feel the same way and since I'm copying my dad on this, I thought I'd address it here. I also believe that the government should get the hell out of the marriage business. But for now, they are in it, and they're in it strong. But using that as an argument against same-sex marriage is also unfair and, I have to say, pretty damned cowardly, especially if you have gotten married and taken advantage of all the benefits while claiming you're against the government giving them out. Practice what you preach and if you're going to deny me rights for something you believe, then live up to it and don't accept those rights you don't believe should be offered. Being a hypocrite doesn't make for a convincing argument.

(Another hypocritical argument is the one that claims that marriage is just for having children and raising them. Unless you're willing to deny marriage to any couple who can't have or choose not to have children in their relationship that argument doesn't hold up. And the argument that a marriage between Skip and I will somehow erode heterosexual marriages is just plain stupid. I suggest people who believe that look to abolishing divorce, which is a real threat to heterosexual marriage. Or these quickie marriages that seem so popular to the Pamela Andersons and Britney Spears of the world.)


And that was where I ended it. I also meant to write a comment about divorce and how passages in the Bible regard it negatively, leading many Christians to think of divorce as an unpardonable sin. (This is despite the fact that divorce happens in the Bible more than once and seems tolerated, although Jesus did say, "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery," in Matthew 19:9). The reason I bring this up is because Norm has been divorced and remarried, so judging my relationship on Biblical terms seems more than hypocritical.

I should also mention that my father has written back to me to explain what I misunderstood as a negative reaction to Skip and my marriage. He is not against same-sex marriage, but he does have problems with judges legislating from the bench. He thinks that doing that opens up too many problems that may haunt us in the future. And while I agree with him on that a bit, I have to say that at this day and age, the courts seem to be the only place where justice can be accomplished when it comes to issues like these. But we have to be super vigilant to make sure that judicial legislation isn't abused. In fact, we need to be super vigilant that any branch of our government isn't abusing its powers, something that has become particularly evident during the Bush administration.


I also wanted to answer a few people, but especially Don, about voting for Obama and why I have decided to do so. It's true that both Obama and Biden have said that they oppose same-sex marriage in interviews, but a recent article in "The Advocate" magazine, which interviews some of the gay and lesbian people working in the Obama campaign, it becomes pretty evident that he really has no objection to it. He just needs say that he does to keep the conservative attack forces at bay. At the very least, Obama may not initiate any movement to make same-sex marriage legal, but I don't believe that he will stand in the way of it.

McCain, on the other hand, will actively work to keep same-sex marriage illegal. He and his cynical choice for Vice-President will work to abolish lots of things that I believe in. Palin has already looked into banning books in her town when she was mayor. She doesn't believe in abortion for any cause. She believes that her daughter has the right to make a private choice concerning her pregnancy, but would work to take that right away from everyone else. She's a staunch evangelist and that scares the hell out of me.

McCain was a man I respected only two years ago. Since he's decided to run for President, he has sold out his beliefs and his integrity to win over the conservatives he feels he needs to win. He's a man who used to be an American hero. These days, I believe he's an American disgrace. He no longer deserves my respect.

I have many problems with Obama, just as I have had with any candidate over the years. But I still believe he will be a positive force for change in this country, while McCain will just keep perpetuating the horrible damage the Bush Administration has done to this country over the last eight years. It's going to be hard enough to try to fix that damage in the coming decade, but if McCain is President, it will only get worse. Obama gets my vote, but I'll be the first to loudly criticize him if he doesn't live up to his promise.

That's my reasoning in a capsule. I'm sure I'll have much more to say about this as the campaigns continue, leading up to the election.

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