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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pain and Toil (Haiku Series)

My world is in pain
There is war, both visible
And invisible

Murder and torture
Ubiquitous indifference
Killing for profits

Sheep to the slaughter
Machinations of power
There is no honor in it

Let the people go
The many, dying for bread
Thirst for clean water

They are innocent
Toiling for their families
Victims killed by greed

Ground away by war
For bananas and coffee
Their tears soak the fields

The people suffer
We are washed in blood, and shame
We greedy humans

We cannot escape
We are walking appetites
Persisting in crimes

Dreams manifesting
Destinies and cruelties
Purchased on credit
  
Civilization
Our progeny, hungry ghosts
Wailing at the moon

Tragedies and coin
Guarantees of ignorance
The collected host

Feed the soil with bile
Water it with suffering

The future, condemned

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Homily – Matthew 22:1 - 14 ©

The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.10.15


There is no Kingdom, there is a Garden

It is shameful when the Gospel writers betray the teaching and mission of Jesus, when they allow they allow their own fears, and their own reflections on the tribulations they suffered to warp the Good News that Jesus proclaimed as “the way” to God.

First, let it be understood that heaven is not a kingdom, it is a garden. God is not a king, god is a loving parent. Jesus is not a princeling, he is our brother.

Any reflection on “the way” that does not reflect those principles, is at a minimum a distortion, and at worst a deliberate deception.

God does not command troops, God is not a warrior, God does not deliver the death sentence as punishment for any crime.
God’s Justice is merciful, it is loving and it is kind.

God has laid a table for everyone to share. God has in fact invited the good and the bad alike, both the rich and the poor, the friend and the stranger.

The feast at God’s table is less a wedding celebration and more of a family reunion, the feast is not to celebrate the joining of two, who were not one, but the celebration of a unity that pre-exists all things.

All people are the children of God.

We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, whether we know of, or have ever heard of the name of Christ or not.

At the feat in the garden, there are no wedding garments, we were no badges, and are not asked to present credentials, all are welcome and none are rejected, there will be no darkness, no weeping and no gnashing of teeth.

Invite Everyone You Can to the Wedding

Jesus began to speak to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent his servants to call those who had been invited, but they would not come. Next he sent some more servants. “Tell those who have been invited” he said “that I have my banquet all prepared, my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, everything is ready. Come to the wedding.” But they were not interested: one went off to his farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his servants, maltreated them and killed them. The king was furious. He despatched his troops, destroyed those murderers and burnt their town. Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready; but as those who were invited proved to be unworthy, go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding.” So these servants went out on to the roads and collected together everyone they could find, bad and good alike; and the wedding hall was filled with guests. When the king came in to look at the guests he noticed one man who was not wearing a wedding garment, and said to him, “How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’



28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Emergence, In Fifty-five Words - Section Six, The Empire; Part Thirty-nine, Priest, Collected Chapters



Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 281, October 8th, 2017

Chapter One: Oblate

They elevated him to the priesthood.

It was unprecedented, to rise from the status of a rebel and an outcast, to the most exalted class of being, and once again, he started on the lowest rung.

He was an oblate.

He was given the mark of humility.

He was tonsured, as any beginner would be.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 282, October 9th, 2017

Chapter Two: Novice

It was required that he take vows; vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. This was required of every novice, but they were not necessarily for life.

He entered the sacred order, and was initiated into the mysteries.

He became, once again, a servant.

He was the oldest novice ever.

He was wise.

He was quiescent.

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Emergence 2.0
A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 283, October 10th, 2017

Chapter Three: Brother

The priestly class was divided into two groups.

There was the priesthood, and then there were the holy orders.

He always went deep.

He followed the contemplative sects into the paths of mystery, austerity, and aesthetics.

He wanted to do more than officiating rites, managing a temple, he wanted to discover the meaning of existence.

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A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 284, October 11th, 2017

Chapter Four: Sister

He was a conformist at heart.

Since his years as a rebel, he was obedient, a follower, not always of people, but to the multitudes.

He had been the unparalleled leader.

He was a follower of ideals. In relation to his principles, he was unquestioning.

Then he met a woman, and he fell in love.

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A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 285, October 12th, 2017

Chapter Five: Ordained

After years of servitude he was initiated into the mysteries, and ordained into the order of the priesthood.

He became an officiant of the sacred rites.

Every day he reenacted the rituals and repeated the sacred chants, which led to eternal life, both for himself and on behalf of others, opening the gates of Continuum.

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A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 286, October 13th, 2017

Chapter Six: Abba

His affair with the Sister was illicit, but he loved her, and she him.

They had both sworn vows of chastity.

His willingness to break those vows and the anguish it caused, captivated his audience in the Collective.

It was out of character, it was unpredictable.

They ensured it would continue.

They made him Abba.

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A Novel – In 55 Words a Day
Day 287, October 14th, 2017

Chapter Seven: Overseer

With the blessing of the Collective and by the favor of Continuum, despite his carnal crimes, he advanced in rank among the religious orders and in the hierarchy of the priesthood.

The Continuum loved the intrigue of his cover-ups.

They made him a Cardinal.

The masses, knowing nothing of his transgressions, adored him even more.

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Emergence 2.0
Section Six, The Empire

Part Thirty-nine, Priest
Collected Chapters

01 Oblate
02 Novice
03 Brother
04 Sister
05 Ordained
06 Abba
07 Overseer

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

On the Freedom to Marry - Collected Parts

It is wrong to deny women and men the freedom to be married.

It is wrong and Un-American.

It is inhuman, against humanity.

There is a continuing struggle over civil liberties and human rights in our culture, and around the world. It is a struggle that divides Americans at every level; in our governments, in our churches, even friends and families.

This debate must be conducted on clear terms, and while it is true that the American people have found justice in the struggle for marriage equality, the risk is still great that this justice is merely a temporary reprieve.

Rights that are acknowledged in one decade, can be rescinded in the next.

We must be diligent, we must jealously defend the rights of all Americans, take up the cause on the world stage, albeit as late comers, but nevertheless as champions of human dignity for the remainder of the world whose cultures are still struggling with these basic rights. 

This discussion surrounding marriage equality needs clarity, because it is all too often confused by a whirlwind of emotions, rhetoric and religious fervor; it is obfuscated by legal jargon, pseudo history and dubious theology.

As a Christian theologian and historian who believes firmly in the separation of church and state, as a person from a multi-racial family with a lifelong interest in civil rights and the full enfranchisement of all citizens, as a veteran who served this country out of a firm belief in American values and the guarantee of freedom for every individual, as a heterosexual male raised in one of the largest homosexual communities in America, as a person who has worked and played with, befriended, worshipped beside and loved gay men and women, all of my life; as an American, I feel a calling to raise my own voice in the face of the storm, to still the whirlwinds of protest and oppose those people who would like to put, my friends and family, my neighbors, my fellow Americans back on the outside.

In 2012, we reached a turning point in our culture.

For the first time ever, the freedom to marry was granted to same sex couples, not through the courts, not through the legislature, but directly, by the voters themselves in three states; Maine, Maryland, and Washington. By the process of voter referendum, same-sex couples were granted the right to marry.

At the same time voters in Minnesota rejected a voter referendum that would have enshrined Minnesota’s opposition to same-sex marriage (already denied by state law), in its constitution.
 
A watershed moment had come.

In June of 2015, in a five to four ruling, the United State Supreme Court determined that same-sex couple nationwide had the right to marry.

This is now the law of the land, but the struggle for marriage equality is not over.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, there have been numerous challenges to the rights of American citizens. Clerks in government offices have refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, bakers, and caterers and wedding planners have refused to serve same-sex couples, citing their freedom of religion and their moral objection to same-sex marriage as the grounds for their refusal.

There are tens of millions of Americans living in every state of the union, holding positions in government, on our courts and everywhere that we can think of who would if they could see these rights overturned.

The struggle for equality, for these basic human rights, goes beyond our borders, all people of good will must keep up the fight for these and every other protection to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that are under threat by institutional bigotry, racism, and hatred, by the spirit of injustice everywhere. 

Let me be clear and let me reiterate. To deny women and men the freedom to marry the person of their choice is Un-American.

It is wrong in many ways.

It is wrong because it is an affront to the basic values and beliefs of American culture, tenets which we hold to be both true, and self-evident, principles that are enshrined in the charter documents that served as the justification for the foundation of our nation.

These principles must guide us. If we are not led by them, we will never be able to exercise leadership in the world.

The Declaration of Independence (adopted in Congress on 4 July, 1776) states, that all people are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, such as: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The Declaration states in its preamble that the purpose of the American legal code is to form “a more perfect union…to establish justice…and to ensure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

The perfection of our union demands, that the establishment of justice be moved to extend the full franchise of citizenship to all Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation, or whatever it is about them that the majority does not like.

The perfection of justice demand that all of our fellow citizens be free, and be able to live out their lives in pursuit of their happiness.

To take up the pen and fight for these truths, to fight for the recognition of truth, and the equal application of these principles in the lives of all people, is the essence of what it means to be an American, or a citizen of good conscience of any nation, anywhere in the world.

To place limits on who is protected by the Constitution, to curtail the rights of individual citizens or groups, to deprive them of life or the richness of married life, to rob them of their liberty-the liberty to choose their own spouse, to censure their happiness by denying them the right of self determination, simply because they have a different sexual orientation than those in the majority, that is to argue for the establish a classist society, of the type that we Americans rejected long ago, which we rejected in principle when our founders wrote those charter documents.

I was raised in an inter-racial family.

My European-American mother was born in 1940 and spent part of her youth in the segregated South.
She remembers the era of Jim Crow, which both shames me and pains me to imagine.

In America, not very long ago, my European-American mother and my African-American stepfather would have been denied the freedom to marry one another due to the fact that they are not of the same “race” (an arbitrary classification).

If that had been the case, my younger brother would not have had the benefit of growing up in a household with married parents. I would not have had the benefit of seeing my mother’s relationship with my stepfather legitimized by society. A marriage license would not have been granted to them. Even if they could have found a minister, a rabbi, a pastor or a priest to perform a wedding service, their union would not have been recognized by the state.

That would have been reprehensible, morally objectionable, and a crime against humanity.

The act of denying a woman or a man the freedom to marry the person of their choice is just as wrong as it would be to force someone to marry against their will, which is still commonly done, and is in fact the tradition, in many parts of the world.

To deny a woman or man the freedom to marry a person of their own sex is just as wrong as denying two people from two different ethnic backgrounds the freedom to marry one another: a person of European descent the freedom to marry a person of African descent, Asian descent or Native American descent.

It is wrong.

At an earlier moment of our history, in different places of our country, this kind of discrimination was legal. We permitted our prejudices and fears to overwhelm our sense of justice and thereby denied women and men the right of self-determination.

We moved past this because it was wrong, because it is Un-American, because it strikes against the basic notion that all people are created equal, equally loved by their creator, equal in dignity and equally entitled to make free choices regarding how they worship, and where; regarding who they associate with and love.

In America, according to our best traditions, our way life changed and our laws eventually caught up with our conscience. We overcame this form of bigotry, this fear of mixing the “races,” this racism and racial discrimination, but we have not overcome bigotry all-together. We still fear, hate and discriminate against our neighbors. We tolerate it when it is directed toward our friends and family when the issue is human sexuality.

It is one thing to discriminate against people in your private life. As Americans, we have the freedom to assemble with people of our own choosing. No one can force us to befriend people we do not want to befriend.

It is sad to live in fear; I think it is, sad to watch someone who nurtures hate, intolerance and bigotry. However, I am moved by more than sorrow when those people seek to enshrine their fear and bigotry in the laws of the United States.

I am moved by anger when I see injustice, and moved by pride in my American heritage to fight against it.

I am moved by the ideals of the founders, moved out of desire not to be shamed by the generations of Americans who went before me, who gave their lives in the struggle to guarantee freedom and equality for all citizens, for all people

I am moved out of a desire not to be shamed by those Americans who are fighting and dying still, for the protection of those same rights, especially those Americans serving in the armed, defending the nation even though many would have us return to treating them like second class citizens. 

The shameful truth is this. We live in a classist society now.

Women and men in same-sex relationships have been granted the freedom to marry, but those freedoms are under assault. They are being challenged in the courts, in state legislatures, by private citizens, at every level in our society.

If those retrogressive forces get their way, they would deprive homosexual couples the assurance that all heterosexual couples enjoy, and expect, simply because they are married. At the most critical moments of their lives, when they are sick or dying, or when tragedy suddenly strikes, they would deprive American citizens of the right to visit their loved ones in hospital rooms, protection in court, and the right to make decisions on behalf of their spouse.

We live in a classist society right now.

It is shameful.

The division between classes is different than that which was between the patrician and plebian, the commoner and lord, the freeperson and the slave. The markers of classism in our society are less obvious than they once were. We do not mark our class by the color of our clothes, by who is entitled to wear purple or don the top hat, by who is allowed to learn to read and write, or vote. The markers of classism in our society today are different, but no less distinct, and no less defiant of reason to uphold it.

Classism in our society is not codified in law, it is upheld by cultural norms, and goes beyond the present discussion on the freedom to marry. Classism in American is promoted by the ever shrinking European American majority as means of dividing and oppressing any group of citizens in the minority; by religion, by language, by ethnicity, by the color of their skin and by their sexuality.   

As Americans, it is our duty to resist the temptation toward these old habits of bigotry. Whatever troubles the institution of marriage is having among heterosexual couples; whether it is a rising divorce rate, marital infidelity, the increasingly public exposure of spousal abuse, or simply the fact that fewer opposite-sex couples are entering into marriage; whatever social forces caused these troubles, the existence of these troubles is no reason to fear the marriage of same-sex couples.

Same-sex couples around the world who are seeking the right to marry, do so because they ardently believe that the institution of marriage is a good in and of itself. In America they fervently strive to preserve this right for themselves, a right that all of their heterosexual peers posses, and give no thought at all to whether they might be allowed to be married, or not. For same-sex couples in America, it may prove to be merely a privilege, one that can be granted or revoked at the will of a simple majority on the Supreme Court of the United States

Because I do not fear the marriage of same-sex couples, it is difficult for me to comprehend the fear that other people have regarding it.

Fear itself is irrational.

Many people fear the unknown, fear change, fear what is different.

I have heard it said by the opponents of same-sex marriage, that same-sex unions; threaten, undermine, weaken the institution of marriage among opposite-sex couples.

I have seen no evidence for this, and though evidence for this has been asked for in court, none has been presented that the courts have taken seriously.

Nevertheless, opponents of same-sex marriage feel that this is true.

They believe it.

The D.O.M.A. law (Defense of Marriage Act), which has been declared unconstitutional, illustrates this point.

Opponents of same sex-marriage believe that the institution of marriage is under assault, that they have lost a major battle, and that the war against the freedom to marry is not over.

They believe that their own marriages are threatened by the marriage of same-sex couples. As a result, they believe that their traditional way of life must be defended.    

Until the twenty-first century, in America, there had not been a tradition allowing same-sex couples to marry. However, in America, traditions change, grow, and become more inclusive.

Right now, in America, we are doing something different. This does not happen by fiat, there is no automatic process at work. Changes in traditional ways of life, traditional points of view, traditional beliefs, do not come without struggle. There is always a push and pull, and then a watershed. America is changing, even as one group of Americans grow more and more accepting of same-sex relationships, another group becomes more recalcitrant. One group of Americans seeks to use the powers of government, and law to narrow the franchise of citizenship, while another group struggles to expand it.

This is a tug of war, and the rights of every citizen hang in the balance.

When we are faced with something new, something like same-sex marriage, if your imagination fails you and you cannot find a provision in your tradition that allows a woman to marry a woman or a man to marry a man. The solution to such a failure can often be found in creative thinking, with dialogue, by sitting down at the table and talking to one another.

In America, right now, in 2017, just two years after United States Supreme Court established marriage equality as the law of the land. Our current President is talking with his most ardent supporters about stacking the courts at every level, with justice who will work to overturn that ruling.

Law suits are being filed, laws are being passed in the states and ruled on by lower court justices, in a way that creates constitutional conflict, guaranteeing them a path to a new decision by the Supreme Court.

The battle is not over.

Rights once granted, must be fought for in order to be preserved.

These people who enact new laws, that forbid men and women from marrying the people they love, the people they choose, forbid them because they are different, curtail their freedom even though they are American citizens, because their sexuality, sexual preference, gender identity differs from the majority.

It is because we focus more on our differences from our brothers and sisters, than on our sameness as Americans, as human beings and as children of God that we create and foster this utterly bigoted, immoral, unconscionable and Un-American classism.

Not only does this classism harm the individuals who are targeted by these laws, it harms their extended families, their children included.

These prejudices, and prejudice of any kind harms all future generations of Americans.

It harms our posterity.

It may come as a surprise to some, but gay people have children.
They have children of their own. They have their own progeny. Gay people procreate.
The children of gay Americans are American children.
Sometimes their children are born from relationships that did not work.
Sometimes same-sex couples, like opposite-sex couples, engage surrogates and sperm donors to facilitate their procreation.
Gay people have children.
Sometimes they adopt children who are orphaned, unwanted, or not able to be cared for by their birth-parents. They foster children under the aegis of the state, or as a service to members of their own family.
The children of people in same-sex relationships should be able to witness and experience the relationships that their parents are in, and behold them as fully legitimate.
Like me, and like my younger brother, they should be able to say; “my parents are married.”
The act of denying women and men the freedom to marry the person they choose, according to their own desire; has harmful consequences that reach far beyond those relationships, that reach into the lives of the generations that follow them.
Stigmatizing the relationships that their parents are in through classism, and legalized discrimination, can only serve to undermine respect for the institution of marriage, an institution that is at the heart of the American social order and the foundation of our society.
The sad irony is this, fighting against the freedom of same-sex couples to marry, far from defending the institution, actually delegitimizes it, undermines it, generates resentment for it.
 Americans are intuitively distrustful of privilege, and unconsciously gravitate toward the “underdog.” If we were to bring this classism back and preserve marriage as a benefit for opposite-sex couples only, fewer and fewer heterosexual boys and girls will want to participate in it themselves.
When I was eighteen years old I rented a room in a house that I shared with a lesbian couple. Twenty-nine years later those two women are still together as a couple. They are the primary caregivers to a pair of their grandchildren.

Imagine explaining to those children why these two women should not be able to have their relationship fully endorsed by the state.

Imagine telling them why their two grandmothers should not be married.

Imagine it.

Tell me about the harm that is done to the institution of marriage, not your narrowly defined traditions, but to the institution of marriage, by allowing these two women to be married, to have their license and be wed; tell me how they would not be harmed if we were to return them to the status of second class citizens,

Tell me that, and I will tell you of harm done to their grandchildren by seeing them so mistreated, then you will have to tell me how this is justified in order to preserve a traditional model of marriage.

Tell me of what that reasoning is and I will show you how you are confused.

This is not a game with a zero-sum outcome.

We are talking about the rights of citizens, and the building blocks of family life.

If you take the position that same-sex marriage undermines opposite-sex marriage, you are casting the issue in zero-sum, terms.

The suggestion is:

To grant our homosexual citizens the same rights of any other citizen, the right to be married and to have their marriage contract honored wherever they go, to expand the franchise of citizenship in this way, encroaches on the rights of heterosexuals.

However, there is no such proposition. No one is saying that we should grant same-sex couples the right to marry, while restricting the rights of opposite-sex couples.

If these rights are rescinded by the courts, same-sex couples would be denied their actual rights, their standing in court, recourse to the law.

When the Supreme Court affirmed the rights of same-sex couples to be married, the opponents of same sex-marriage lost nothing, nothing substantial, nothing except a social (and legal) affirmation of their traditional values

This is what is good:

It is good to have our friends and neighbors, our brothers and sisters; and yes, even our mother and fathers, be who they are, living as they are, as fully enfranchised members of our society, without fear, or shame, or stigma.
When I was fifteen years old I had a girlfriend with a gay father.

She loved her dad and was proud of him, and though she did not shy away from the struggle of telling people her father was gay, it was nevertheless a struggle that she should not have had to face.

Her father took good care of her. Her father was in a steady relationship. If society could have recognized that relationship as legitimate, allowed him to marry his partner, made the issue of his sexuality into something that was not an issue at all, his burden would not have been her burden. In fact, his sexuality would not have been a burden to anyone at all.

It would have been good to spare them that angst.

I am not saying that granting same-sex couples the right to be married would resolve all the social stigmas that are attached to homosexuality in an instant, but it would address those stigmas and set them on their way toward resolution and healing.

The fact that my European-American mother was able to marry my African-American stepfather did not resolve the issues of bigotry and racism that lingered around my family, but had they not been able to be legally wed, that older generation of my family, which was resentful of their union, would have felt comfortable stewing in their fear that much more.

Granting legitimacy to same-sex couples, through the institution of marriage will carry them on their way toward healing as well, like the sutures that close an open wound and knit common flesh together, telling gay Americans that they are honored, valued and loved will go a long way toward ending a large array of discrimination that these citizens face.

Marriage is essentially a contract between two people.[i] The act of denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry is only one dimension of this bigotry, the harm that it does to their children and families is another dimension, but there are more. Codifying this classist structure in law, as D.O.M.A. did, had the effect of preventing hundreds of thousands of adult women and men from making the most formal and solemn commitment to one another.

That law was passed in order “to define and protect the institution of marriage.”[ii]

I argue that this D.O.M.A. harmed the institution of marriage and our society, it has not helped either. Not only did that law codify a narrow definition of marriage that privileges (only) heterosexuals by defining marriage as meaning “…a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ [as] refer[ing] only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.’’[iii] The harm it dis through this narrow definition was substantial, because it limited the number of people who were willing to participate in the institution, to support it and promote it as a good, but who could not, because their relationship did not meet the statutory criteria.

The harm D.O.M.A. did to individual people is one thing, but it also harmed the United States Constitution. The passage of this law restricted the power of Article 1, Section 10 without having gone through the process of a constitutional amendment.

The Defense of Marriage Act states: 

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.[iv]

More than simply preventing same-sex couples from having the benefits, the legal privileges, rights of inheritance and tax benefits that heterosexual couples can enjoy (or abuse) without anyone standing in their way; this unconstitutional denial of rights, this classism, if it were to return, would rob American girls, it steal from American boys a future in which they can look forward to having their relationships with whatever partner they choose, acknowledged, valued and accepted by their contemporaries.

It would take from them the hope of being able to celebrate their love for their future husband, or future wife in the same way that every other American is able to do.

It would inform them, wrongly, that they are less American, less human, less deserving of the good stuff in life.

It would tell these girls and boys, who, though gay, are still American, but who, as members of a persecuted minority, that because they are different from ninety percent of their peers, that they are less deserving, and less good.

These are the messages we used to send, and we cannot return to a place where we are sending these messages again.

Imagine an American girl, your daughter or niece, your granddaughter or cousin, your sister; imagine her, and imagine that it is you yourself telling her that her hopes for a wedding, her dream of wearing a beautiful dress, a wedding-gown, of being led down the aisle toward the one person with whom she wants to spend the rest of her life; imagine telling her that her dream is nonsense, that it is never going to happen, that it should never happen-not in this country, not according to your tradition.

People are not encouraged to enter marriage blindly, quite the contrary.

People are encouraged to enter into marriage from relationships that are already established, already tested, with people upon whom they already rely, already trust, and already know.

The time for marriage comes when the couple has discerned, through experience, that this one person is the person who completes them, who understands the other, who is best able to support their partner, in and through all the unknowns that will be coming ahead them; through the good times and the bad, whether there is sickness or health, whether poverty or wealth.

The time for marriage comes when the couple has discerned that their partner is the one person who they want by their side for the rest of their lives; to have, and to hold, to love and to cherish.

Imagine telling this American girl, or this American boy, these American children who dreams of wedding rings and spoken vows, of sharp suits and flowing gowns, of tuxedos with tails, and family gathered together to hear her and him say that they have found the person they love above all others and they ready to settle down, make a home, and provide for them, with them, together; imagine telling that girl and that boy that this dream for a future of happiness, of security, a dream which we encourage all girls and boys to dream, is a dream they should stop dreaming because the framework of your tradition is not expansive enough to include them.

Imagine telling these children, these hundreds of thousands of American children that this dream is not for them because they are different, because the person they love, or will come to love is the same gender as they.

Imagine telling them this and try to make sense out of why their gender matters, in light of all those other considerations.

Imagine telling them this, and know; that in all of our stories, in all of our great literature, in all of our epics, in our poetry, it is invariably the villain who stands in the way of love.

In an argument made before the Supreme Court of Iowa,[v] the people and organizations that were defending Iowa state law (at that time), prohibiting same sex couples from being married, in keeping with the federal Defense of Marriage Act (then the law of the of the land), allowed Iowa to not acknowledge the marriages of same sex couples legally entered into in other states; the proponents of that unjust law cited these basic interests:

The first three interests are broadly related to the advancement
of child rearing. Specifically, the objectives centered on promoting
procreation, promoting child rearing by a mother and a father within a
marriage, and promoting stability in an opposite-sex relationship to raise
and nurture children. The fourth interest raised by the County addressed
the conservation of state resources, while the final reason concerned the
governmental interest in promoting the concept and integrity of the
traditional notion of marriage.[vi]
  
The essence of these arguments amounts to a request that the tradition of heterosexual marriage and heterosexual marriage only, be preserved, over and against any other form of marriage. However, these arguments failed to address what compelling interest the state had in denying the freedom to marry, to same-sex couples.

The arguments were merely a plea to the court, a plea to allow the State of Iowa to continue the systematic disenfranchisement of a group of its citizens, to continue the practice of telling gay women and gay men that they are not, in fact, full citizens, and that their hopes for themselves, the hope to be married, their hopes to raise their families in the state of wedlock should never be realized.

The Supreme Court of Iowa ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, twelve people who had the courage to challenge Iowa’s discriminatory laws. The ruling cited other famous cases in which the issue of equal protection before the law was the central issue, cases like: Dread Scott v. Sanford, and Brown v. Board of Education.

On the issue of equal protection the court found that:

With respect to the subject and purposes of Iowa’s marriage laws, we find that the plaintiffs are similarly situated compared to heterosexual persons. Plaintiffs are in committed and loving relationships, many raising families, just like heterosexual couples. Moreover, official recognition of their status provides an institutional basis for defining their fundamental relational rights and responsibilities, just as it does for heterosexual couples. Society benefits, for example, from providing samesex couples a stable framework within which to raise their children and the
power to make health care and end-of-life decisions for loved ones, just as it does when that framework is provided for opposite-sex couples. In short, for purposes of Iowa’s marriage laws, which are designed to bring a sense of order to the legal relationships of committed couples and their families in myriad ways, plaintiffs are similarly situated in every important respect, but for their sexual orientation.[vii]

In the opinion of most people, including myself; the Supreme Court of Iowa is not a radical court.

Iowa is not a radical state.

To use a generic term; Iowa is “America’s heartland,” is a truism, Iowa is both geographically and politically central to the nation.

Neither the “left wing” of the American electorate, nor the “right wing” dominates this state. In consideration of the fact that the Supreme Court in Iowa rejected the arguments of those who sought to continue a tradition of discrimination, imagine yourself explaining those arguments, imagine yourself justifying a right to discriminate, to the American girl, or the American boy in another state; why the justice that was found in Iowa should not be had in California or Maine or any other territory, protectorate, or sovereign land where the United States Constitution is the law.

The Iowa Supreme Court found correctly, that allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry constitutes a public good.

It strengthens families.

It promotes marriage.

It empowers people who are partners in same-sex relationships to care for their loved ones at the end of life.

They also found that, while the state of marriage is essentially contractual, being married is more than just being in a contract with another person. It is a change in social status, a status to which same-sex couples cannot obtain if they are legally prevented from being married.

What the court has arrived at through this insight is the fact that denying these rights to same-sex couples perpetuates an unjust and classist society in which social advancement is available to some but not to others.

The court found that:

“The benefit denied by the marriage statute—the status of civil marriage for same-sex couples (prohibiting same-sex couples from being married)—is so “closely correlated with being homosexual” as to make it apparent the law is targeted at gay and lesbian people as a class.”[viii]

In Iowa it was found to be wrong, un-just, and I will say Un-American, to deny women and men the freedom to marry, to deny girls and boys the freedom to hope that they could be married, because to deny people these freedoms perpetuates a classist society and the struggle against classism, the struggle for civil rights, for equality and equal protection under the law speaks to the heart of the American experience.

As I have stated earlier, this is our best tradition.

In 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court, in a 6 – 3 decision, with an opinion written by Justice Kennedy, held the same things, that “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person.”[ix]

To be remain true to this decision and forge ahead with a new American tradition we must stay engage. The struggle for freedom must continue; in the streets, through the press, by influencing law-makers, and finally, if those efforts fail, we are must continue to defend these rights in court.

We must remain diligent, because those who are opposed to these freedoms are, are they are possessed with a religious zeal to see their fellow Americans disenfranchised, cut off, ostracized at every level of our society.

In 2009, when the Iowa Supreme Court made this decision they recognized that tide was turning away from gay people. State legislatures across the country had moved to write laws that discriminated against gay people.

The Iowa Supreme Court said that “it cannot allow discrimination to become acceptable as tradition;” that “some underlying reason other than the preservation of tradition must be identified,”[x] if we are going to limit a minority segment of the population from having access to the same rights and privileges as the majority.

After rejecting the arguments from tradition, the Iowa Supreme went on to look into the other issues that were raised by the State of Iowa in defending its statute: issues such as whether it is best, or optimal to raise children in dual gender households; whether marriage is meant to serve the function of procreation.

The Iowa Supreme Court found the arguments in support of those ideas to be unconvincing. There is no data supporting the notion that opposite-sex couples raise children better than same-sex couples. Furthermore, opposite-sex couples are not required to procreate as a condition of their marriage.

The United States Supreme Court agreed.

To promote classism by denying rights to a whole segment of citizens is wrong.

It is unjust to deny to the right of marriage to American citizens.

American citizens, those Americans that are homosexual, make up a vital part of our population. The United States Census[xi] taken in 2010, tells us that same-sex couples makes up 0.5 percent of all households in America.

Prior to The Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, in most states they were denied the right to marry, and the marriages that were entered into legally, in the few places where it was legal, did not have to be recognized.

This group of people, American citizens, numbering over 1,200,000; were kept in the status of second class citizens. A return to those shameful circumstance threatens the unity of the nation.

Americans cannot allow for the passage of laws that restrict the franchise of citizenship to over 1,000,000 Americans, we cannot allow that to define our nation; dis-united.

We cannot return to a place where such restrictive laws set this whole group apart and deny them the basic liberties that every other citizen may enjoy.

One million people is three times the population of the city where I live; Minneapolis, Minnesota.

There are twelve states, including the District of Columbia whose entire population is less than the number this number.

There are nearly one and a half million American citizens who are paying taxes, contributing to our economy, working as doctors and lawyers, working as mechanics and carpenters, as scientists and clergy who are being threatened with being disenfranchised, denied the right of self-determination, the ability to pursue their own happiness. just because they are different, not different in the quality of the contribution they make to our culture, not different in regard to their being more [or less] law abiding, but different in regard to who they love.

Gay women and gay men will always exist as a part of our population. They will be with us in roughly the same proportion to the rest of the population as they are today, but the number of actual human beings will continue to grow as our population grows.

Imagine for a moment all of these people, these million people and add to that number all of the others who are like them, gay, but who have not submitted to being counted. Imagine them filling every football and basketball arena, every baseball field, every hockey stadium and every civic center in the country, and now imagine how it is that we can deny this great assemblage of citizens the rights of full citizenship.

How do we explain that? What basis exits for shutting them out?

As I mentioned at the outset, the 2012 election marked a turning point in the struggle for freedom and basic rights for an oppressed and marginalized group of our fellow citizens. Ballot initiatives in three states granted the right for same-sex couples to marry, and in one state, while in Minnesota, a measure to amend its constitution, that would have restricted the freedom to marry, failed.

In 2014 the United States Supreme Court of the United States took up several issues pertaining to the freedom to marry. In 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges, in a 6 – 3 decision, the Supreme Court lifted all restrictions on the rights of same-sex to marry.

Resistance to same-sex marriage did not go away.

In Alabama, State Supreme Court Chief Justice, Roy Moore, ordered the courts of his state to refuse to acknowledge this decision.

Many other assaults on this ruling have been launched from multiple states, and from multiple industries.

The Trump administration is seeking to undermine the rights of Americans, who happen to be homosexual in many ways, beyond the issue of marriage. It is reported that they are looking for ways to make sexual preference a fireable offence.

If conservatives of that ilk get their way, there will be no equal protection for this class of American citizens.

Do not hesitate, the time is now.

Protect the institution of marriage and the rights of al Americans.

Defending the traditions of a by-gone American culture, is not a defense of marriage, it is a perpetuation of injustice, and immorality. If you think otherwise, remember this:

People who are divorced may re-marry, even if their divorce was brought about by infidelity, through the commission of adultery, by spousal abuse or other miss-deeds.

A person who murders their wife, their husband or their children, a person who murders their whole family may re-marry, even while they are in prison on death row, but if the forces of conservatism, and so-called “traditionalism” are free to discriminate against a whole class of Americans, then a woman who loves a woman or a man who loves a man may not have that love celebrated and recognized as a legitimate.

When the legal analysis failed, and court after court has rejected the arguments for discriminating against gay people. When the social analysis has been brought in and we are forced to think objectively about the vast numbers of actual people who would be disenfranchised if these discriminatory laws were to return, the real motivation behind the desire to exclude same-sex couples from participating in the institution of marriage is exposed and it is not tradition, but religion.

The Iowa Supreme Court acknowledged as much:

Now that we have addressed and rejected each specific interest advanced by the County to justify the classification drawn under the statute, we consider the reason for the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage left unspoken by the County: religious opposition to same-sex marriage. The County’s silence reflects, we believe, its understanding this reason cannot, under our Iowa Constitution, be used to justify a ban on same-sex marriage. While unexpressed, religious sentiment most likely motivates many, if not most, opponents of same-sex civil marriage and perhaps even shapes the views of those people who may accept gay and lesbian unions but find the notion of same-sex marriage unsettling. Consequently, we address the religious undercurrent propelling the same-sex marriage debate as a means to fully explain our rationale for rejecting the dual-gender requirement of the marriage statute.[xii]

The religious beliefs of a person or group of people, no matter how influential they are or how large that group is, cannot be the basis of law in Iowa or anywhere else in the United States.

We believe in a separation between Church and State, this is an American ideal, it is our tradition and as an American I hold the conviction that Congress should not pass any law respecting the establishment of religion. Neither can we leave the word religion out of our legislation and put in its place the term tradition; we cannot do this if our goal is to preserve a secular culture that is free from religious persecution and tyranny.
           
I hold a Masters of Arts in theology, which I earned at a Catholic school, St. John’s University, in Collegeville, Minnesota.

Even though I am a Christian, and Catholic, I do not believe that my values should be used as the basis of laws that govern Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, Animists or Atheists.

Furthermore, because I believe in the separation of Church and State, I also believe that religious institutions and their ministers; which are given the authority by States to perform marriages, should not be dictated to by the State regarding who they are allowed to a marry.

If a particular church does not want to marry same-sex couples, they should not be forced to, and if another church wants to marry same-sex couples, they should not be prohibited.

The matter should concern only the individual, and their church.

The State should not interfere.

As a Christian theologian and historian, I can tell you that the scriptures do not contain very much reference material on homosexuality. There are a few mentions of it, and I grant that the references which are there, do condemn homosexuality. However, it should be noted that the scriptures condemn all sexuality outside of wedlock and are suspicious of sexuality within wedlock as well.

According to the Judeo-Christian tradition sex in general is something to be avoided.

Note well, sexual mores did not find their way into the Ten Commandments, other than to condemn adultery.

Jesus did not talk about homosexuality at all.

St. Paul mentions homosexuality in his letter to the Romans 1:26[xiii] where he says that it is unnatural and an abomination.

The same word, abomination is also used in the scriptures to describe the act of eating shellfish.

Abomination is a strong term, but one that is used often to describe any activity that is prohibited by the laws that are written in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

Note well, St. Paul condemns homosexuality, and he would also prefer that every person be celibate.[xiv] He thought that the best situation for all Christians would be for men to live in communities with men, and women to live in communities with women, and that everyone should be celibate while awaiting the return of Christ.

Of course, he knew that this situation would not obtain. Nevertheless, for St. Paul this was the ideal. As far as Christian idealism goes, it is impracticable, we cannot follow St. Paul.

The human race would be no-where if we did.

We may conclude this, the Judeo-Christian theology does not speak realistically  or convincingly on issue of human sexuality.

Jesus was concerned with is justice, not sexuality, but justice, that we have ethical relationships with one another, that we respect each other’s personhood, and treat one another as we would like to be treated ourselves.

When Jesus commented on the law he always turned to this point; love one another as God has loved you. This, to Jesus is the whole of the law and the entire teaching of the prophets, which is something we cannot fulfill if we are busy trying to exclude our neighbors from the full franchise of citizenship.

The issues presented in the struggle for marriage equality is one of Justice.

Moreover, the freedom to marry is about more than marriage equality, it is about equality per se.

It is about justice, and the rights of citizenship.

It is about a recognition of the principles that are at the foundation of our social order, the truths that we hold to be self-evident, that all people are created equal and endowed by their creator with rights that are inalienable, and that among those rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

There can be no traditions in America that are not in the service of this tradition.

To deny American women and men the right to marry the person of their choice, or to deny to American girls and boys the hope of future happiness, the right to determine the course of their own life, to deny them their liberty, is a gross violation of the American way.  




Works Cited

The Declaration of Independence, http://www.constitution.org/usdeclar.pdf


The Defense of Marriage Act, PUBLIC LAW 104–199—SEPT. 21, 1996, http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi- bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=104_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ199.104.pdf

In the Supreme Court of Iowa, No. 07–1499, filed April 3, [1]2009, http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/us/20090403iowa-text.pdf

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, No. 14–556. Argued April 28, 2015—Decided June 26, 2015*

OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

United States Census, http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en&_ts=

New America Bible, Romans, http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/romans/romans1.htm



[i] Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution prohibits any state from impairing contracts that are entered into in other states, it requires each state to honor the terms of a contract that are made in any other state.
[v]Iowa Supreme Court, No. 07–1499, filed April 3rd, 2009
[vi] http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/us/20090403iowa-text.pdf
[vii] (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/us/20090403iowa-text.pdf)
[viii] (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/us/20090403iowa-text.pdf)
[ix] SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, Syllabus, OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL., CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT, No. 14–556. Argued April 28, 2015—Decided June 26, 2015*
[x] (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/us/20090403iowa-text.pdf)
[xii] Iowa Supreme Court, No. 07–1499, filed April 3rd, 2009
[xiii] (http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/romans/romans1.htm)