Written By: DeoVonte Means
On last evening, the State of Illinois categorically became the 15th State to legalize marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Now in an effort to provide accurate reporting, this law has not yet went into effect. It passed through the House which was the most difficult hurdle. It is expected to “fly” through the senate and the governor has already promised to sign. At that point, then the law will become a reality. As a young man, I felt a sense of pride for my State and of my elected legislators because regardless of difference, I strive to be on the right side of history when it comes to social justice, society advancements and civil rights. As a man, I will never know what it feels like to be a woman and contemplate abortion. But I do think a woman should have the right to choose and access to quality women’s health options. In my opinion, this is the fundamental mindset that has allowed us as specie to survive and flourish while others have faced demise. We are a specie that uniquely embraces evolution and adaptation. In 2013, it is unacceptable for any man or woman not to be granted equal rights due to gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, socio-economic standing or any of the other categories of our society.
Many conservatives argue same sex marriage will jeopardize traditional family structure. But let’s be honest. Unless you are living in a heavily restricted convent, most of us have to agree traditional family structure has been altered for years. We can easily quote the statistics in any American city on divorce, single parent homes, poverty stricken families, parental incarceration or children now raised by extended family members. I agree, this reality is sad but it’s our reality and we cannot selfishly place the blame on individual social issues we do not agree on. The traditional family structure has been changed and this new ideology was necessary to accommodate other social growths that we as a society experienced. Yes, a woman no longer has to primp and prepare to marry a man to take care of her while she remains pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen. She can now make the decision to care for her children alone while embracing a career. I am not upset by this. But this is an example of another social advancement whose byproduct may have affected the traditional family structure.
I am well aware of what the “Saints” say and I am not prepared to argue based upon religious principles. But as an educated young man with a mind of enlightenment, I must attest to the fact that EVERY social advancement throughout history has been countered by religious fanatics that often times used scripture and dogma to support their archaic beliefs. Let’s not forget. Rome never had a major issue with Jesus until the High Priest and Sanhedrin Court accused him of disrupting “traditional structure” of Jerusalem and used scripture to support their claims that he was blasphemous and caused insurrections. Let’s also remember one of the main arguments against the 13th amendment was that freeing the slaves would jeopardize the “traditional structure” of the U.S economy and civil system. Many southern pastors quoted scripture to support their claims that certain men were meant to be controlled and God pre-destined who should be master and who should be slave. Yet as a modern day society, we look back and see how silly these arguments were and how those that argued them appear in our eyes to be foolish and of sophomoric mindsets.
I understand that we as a society mostly prefer to beat our chest and condemn an idea to hell before we admit that we are ignorant about the true concepts of the same idea. But let’s be clear, for those who are ignorant and uninformed of gay life. Gay marriage is not some universal signal that beckons gay men and women to storm the church steps and consummate our “love” on the altars of your tabernacle thru acts of demonic intercourse. Gay marriage does not consist of two effeminate men prancing down the aisles of the sanctuary in multi-color feather boas and hot pink booty shorts. Gay marriage is simply our right to respectfully stand before God, our society and government and profess our love and commitment to each other thru sickness & health, rich or poor till death do us part. It allows us the same rights to taxation, estate planning and medical decision making that our heterosexual peers are freely given. Shockingly, with the high rate of “confirmed bachelorism” that’s prevalent in the gay community, you, as clergy, should be more worried about the ill-prepared and unsanctioned heterosexual couple that confess their love at your alter while lasting only 72 days in this holy institution of marriage. Let’s not omit the heterosexual couple that embarks upon marriage because it’s a “trend”, only to find them in a loveless marriage that freely allows outside “entertainment” for the stability of the marriage. The common joke amongst my peers is that before you can find a man to marry, you first got to find one that sticks around after Sunday morning. I do not wish to make blanketed statements about any demographic because there are always exceptions. But civil rights are not about the exceptions, it’s about the universal freedoms for all. I’m always stunned at the number of African-American clergy that contested gay marriage yet we (as gay men & women) are excitedly placed as the leaders of your choirs, worship services and other committees. I’ve never heard a pastor bewail during his sermon “We Will Not Accept Those Home-moe-sexual Tithes!!!!!” Yet, you march against us and stand in defiance of our equal rights. How soon do we forget? It was a little more than 50 years ago that you and your parents marched in the south to be granted equal rights. I guess once you’re given access to drink at whatever water fountain you want, you kinda forget about the others that still struggle for rights. But I’m sure this is “Christ-like” in your minds. The God that I serve CLEARLY stated “I am God all by myself and I don’t need nobodies help.”
The persecution of gay people — like all the insane hatreds of the past, from the slaughter of Native-Americans to the enslavement of blacks to the subjugation of women — was never moral, as was claimed. It was, and is — and for a while yet, among a dwindling minority — a faith-cloaked sin, which wasn’t seen as such because they had the numbers. As Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times articulately stated, the history of modern life can be expressed in one phrase: Individuals freeing themselves from the irrational dictates of institutions. You can in fact pray however you like. You can do the work you choose. You can marry whomever you wish. It’s so clear now, in retrospect, but we should never forget that realization took an enormous battle, fought by countless brave individuals, each looking in the bedroom mirror, and then somehow calling up the courage to go tell their father something he didn’t necessarily want to know. In the words of the ancient pharaohs of Egypt, “so let it be written, so let it be done”…Deo
President Obama statement on Marriage Equality in Illinois:
“I applaud the men and women of the Illinois General Assembly… for voting to legalize marriage equality in my home state. As President, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else. So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours…”