GOP’s Backwards, Anti-LGBT Platform

lgbt

This past month the Republican party held its national convention. While the purpose of the convention is to unite the party it seems as if it has left the party divided more so than it ever has been. The main purpose of the gathering is to nominate a presidential candidate, however several other articles of business are hashed out by the party throughout the week. Perhaps the most important of which is the ratification of the national party platform.

This year the party platform covered many of the usual issues pushed by the Republican Party: “fair and simple” taxation, protectionist trade policy, second amendment preservation, etc. However it also covered some new things; some good and some bad. One of the refreshing things to be found in the Republican party platform was the section on requiring transparency with regards to the operations of the Federal Reserve. In fact if you only read this section it would almost seem as if the party has taken the hint from Ron Paul Republicans. However alas, the party that claims to be for individual liberty and small government also decided to include in its platform some of the most anti-LGBT language.: [Read more…]

How to Roll Back Global Homophobia

tolerance

In my previous article I addressed the issues faced by people concerning their sexual orientation, practices, and preferences. The arbitrary nature of societal norms regarding sexuality and love was pointed out, and the conclusion was reached that the current system which insists on heterosexual, monogamous, vanilla relationships and (for the larger part) misrepresents or even demonizes any other paradigm is positively absurd.

So how do we change this? How can we take a step towards an open society where sexual orientation or practices aren’t an issue? Well, first off, we need to define what is generally acceptable and what isn’t. Now, at the risk of coming off as a hypocrite, I’ll draw the hypothetical line at the point of consent; it is my opinion that if the person cannot give you clear consent, then sex should not be had with them. This admittedly prejudices people who practice zoophilia, pedophilia, and suchlike, but I’m afraid that remains a steadfast line in my opinion. The basis for this is a notion of mutual respect; that is to say that while one should be free to explore their sexuality, this should by no means impinge on anybody’s right to personal safety or their freedom to make their own choices.

The next point of order is how to make it possible for people to express themselves in a manner where no one’s rights are being stepped on. What comes to mind is a situation where people can:
a) Be able to openly express themselves without fear of repercussions
b) No one’s orientations or preferences are being forced onto anyone
c) People remain tasteful at all times [Read more…]

Freedom to Love

lgbt

Among the freedoms that many of us take for granted these days, is the freedom to choose one’s partner and to express one’s sexuality and love towards them. Indeed, global society has come a very long way from the days where affection and sexuality were so taboo that the very thought was considered sinful. And yet, the progress made is mitigated by its own exclusive nature; while certain people began expressing their sexuality and affection more openly, the vast majority of the world’s LGBT population remained oppressed.

To some extent, it is understandable that society would have a difficult transition period from prudish to sexually open, and it does make sense that the most common and familiar forms of sexuality would be recognized first. However, progress in the field has stagnated significantly since this social upheaval began, and in some places society has regressed to primitive notions of superiority based on sexual orientation.

Russia and Uganda are prime examples of what can happen when homophobia spills over into legal policy, situations where homophobia is either condoned or encouraged, and the homosexual community is left without the means to defend themselves either physically or politically. The laws against pro-gay protests and demonstrations prevent people from raising awareness, leaving the majority of the population in ignorance, leading to persecution and abuse. To give the most extreme of recent examples: Russia has proposed a law that makes the act of coming out (i.e. publicly declaring one’s hitherto secret sexual orientation) a criminal offense! [Read more…]

“Right to Discriminate” Helps Gay Rights

rainbow-248294_640

Is bigotry on the rise? It would seem so from Arizona’s recent ill-fated bill to allow businesses to discriminate against homosexuals if they cite religious beliefs. Is social progress and tolerance slipping?

Not at all. Aside from the fact that the vetoed law wouldn’t have had much effect anyway, developments such as this are actually a long-term boon for gay rights. No, I’m not kidding. Here’s why:

Historically, homosexuals in America have faced legal discrimination accompanying social marginalization. Now, the situation is quite different, with a growing majority supporting equal marriage rights for gay couples. Unfortunately, the government didn’t get the memo. Only 17 of the 50 United States legally recognize gay marriage. Worse still, 13 states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books. For the most part they haven’t
been enforced in a very long time, but they’re still there in case some over-zealous state-level officer of the law gets some funny ideas. While across the board the American people are ready to decriminalize, if not wholeheartedly accept, homosexual relations, the current legal structure still leaves them oppressed. [Read more…]

All Values Approximate

Photo credit: Thierry Ehrmann

Photo credit: Thierry Ehrmann

“Pray the gay away” failed. Now it seems that if you can’t beat ’em, you might as well join ’em.

The Roman Catholic Church, homosexuality’s principal foe of the modern age, offered a conciliatory olive branch to the gay community with a promise from Pope Francis to not judge gay priests. This does nothing to change the official Catholic position that homosexuality is wrong. It does, however, downgrade the importance of focusing on sexual orientation. Make no mistake, the Church is changing to “get with the times,” so to speak.

Religions have always evolved like this throughout the ages in order to reflect current realities. The concept of sexual morality, for example, has shifted considerably with the increasing delay, and in some cases disappearance, of marriage. Gluttony is another deadly sin that you will be hard pressed to hear mentioned in modern-day sermons for fear of alienating a significant portion of the congregation.

Through it all, though, the source texts and principles have remained the same. Only the interpretation and emphasis have evolved. And so will it always be. The lessons? One, focus on the big picture: faith, compassion, industry, self-control, charity, and, most importantly, love. And two, take all contemporary religious rules with a grain of salt, knowing that many won’t stand the test of time. God will. Human opinions on His will won’t.

The religious can either dedicate their lives to furthering the well-being of the world and uplifting countless lost souls, or to the visitation of violence and oppression on those who run afoul of the latest interpretation of ancient texts and principles. Pope Francis seems to have signaled that he will go with the first approach. That’s cause for celebration.

Next Victim: Conscience

conscience

Score one for marriage equality. But will equal rights win out in the long run?

The Supreme Court of the United States struck a blow for gay marriage by declaring unconstitutional a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed in 1996 that hampered the ability for same-sex couples to have their marriages validated by states not recognizing gay marriage. While the issue of same-sex marriage at large is far from over in the U.S., the decision does represent the proverbial writing on the wall: sooner or later it’s going to happen.

But don’t be so quick to celebrate. If we’re not careful, freedom to marry might come at the cost of freedom of conscience.

The key issue at the center of the gay marriage debate was freedom to live one’s life peacefully. The ability of homosexual couples to live their peaceful lives at liberty was, and is still, marginalized. Now, those who disagree with their life choices might become targets of oppression. Let’s not forgot the needless, overblown stir caused by Chick-Fil-A’s position on what constitutes a marriage. In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, more dissenters of conscience are feeling the hate.

Now, keep in mind that all manner of lifestyles, whether normal or alternative, have their detractors. Vegetarians and vegans differ from common eating habits, and in many cases consider normalcy in this domain to be immoral. Jews and Muslims abstain from eating pork on the religiously-informed grounds that it’s “wrong.” Amish abstain from most forms of modern civilization altogether. All these people maintain moral objections to what can be called normal, natural human behavior. The same goes for believers in traditional marriage. Some faiths may maintain that homosexuality is a sin. And that’s fine, so long as they don’t infringe on the rights of gays to live their lives in happy disagreement.

The continuing battle for gay rights revolves around the fight for the freedom to live and let live in peace. Let’s not simply trade one oppressed minority for another. Let’s win the fight.