‘Like it or not this (equal marriage/rights for homosexuals) is this generations Civil Rights issue’
Not my words but the words of ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez on ESPN’s Around The Horn show this afternoon. However it is a really interesting point and topic of debate. They were discussing it as a player of the San Francisco 49ers who had said the following when asked about gay players on the team:
“I don’t do the gay guys man, I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah – can’t be – in the locker room man. Nah.”
The team in a carefully worded statement that clearly weren’t the words of the player swiftly followed:
“The derogatory comments I made yesterday were a reflection of thoughts in my head, but they are not how I feel, It has taken me seeing them in print to realize that they are hurtful and ugly. Those discriminating feelings are truly not in my heart. Further, I apologize to those who I have hurt and offended, and I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”
This has created quite a stir unsurprisingly. If there is one city in the United States which has a liberal attitude to same sex relationships then San Francisco would be it. However I found Gutierrez’s comment quite fascinating and rather insightful. I suspect they’ll create more of a stir in the blogosphere Stateside over the coming hours and days.
Over here we have the Equal Marriage Bill that was unveiled last week. There will be a second reading of the bill next Tuesday which is expected to pass with relative ease before facing a slightly more tricky fight in the House of Lords. Most people I know are pro equal marriage. My generation in general has far fewer prejudices than older generations. This is in no small part due to the multi-cultural society that we live in and the fact society as a whole is more open and tolerant.
We also have this thing I like to call the interweb. The interweb has opened up a portal where we can read about so many lives. Social media has further opened up that window to worlds we may never have known before. I can go on that Google machine and pretty much find out about any type of people that I so desire. We quickly come to realise that we are deep down the same and hence why being gay or bisexual or transgendered doesn’t have the amount of issues that it did a generation or two ago.
The thing is more still needs to be done. So much more needs to be done. This is why equal marriage is so important. It is another step not just for gay people to get equality but more importantly it takes another barrier down so people don’t see gay and straight people as having any difference. The more we breakdown these barriers then the more people will realise there is no difference.
I hear about the ‘sanctity’ of marriage and I don’t think it’ll surprise regular readers what I think about the sanctity of marriage. What is it one in every three marriages ends in divorce? Yeah there is a tonne of sanctity in that. I’m not a God guy. That is well known and the Church of England exists because Henry VIII wanted a male heir. You could argue about the Church of England tracing back to The Council of Hertford in 673 AD but that is not where I sit. The CoE essentially exists so Henry VIII could marry someone else. Not sure that is a great backbone to a religion myself.
As for whether churches should be forced to marry same-sex couples. Well churches aren’t actually compelled to marry couples of different sexes. If the vicar decides that the two people are not right for whatever reason he or she can decline to marry them in their church. Members of the clergy are not forced to marry anyone that asks to be married there as it stands anyway. Should they be compelled to marry any same-sex couple? No they shouldn’t but the big question is can they turn them down for the sole reason of being a same-sex couple?
I must admit I see both sides to this argument. It must be said that not all members of the clergy would turn down same-sex couples, in fact a good number have no issue with marrying same-sex couples. God loves everyone of his children so they say, there is never a distinction made about their creed, their colour, their race, their gender, their sexuality or anything of the sort. Therefore if he does exist then the teachings dictate that he loves every single one of his children no matter what and therefore would have no issues regarding same-sex marriages. Now some clergy will of course use other teachings – namely Leviticus 18, verse 22 – ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.‘ for a valid reason for not marrying same-sex couples.
Where I struggle is this – who am I (or anyone for that matter) to tell people how to interpret their religious beliefs? On the other hand I strongly believe that everyone should be treated equally. In this situation the two points of view are polar opposites and one has to be bent and which one should? I don’t think I have the right to answer that but as I strongly believe that equality is at the heart of everything we do I think it is clear – when pushed – which side of the fence I come down on.
I am not sure that this is this generations Civil Rights issue but it certainly isn’t the worst analogy ever. The Civil Rights movement was all about equality for one section of society and this movement is all about equality for another section of society. Yes homosexuals aren’t forced to give up their seats on the bus if a straight person wants to sit there but they don’t have access to all the things that heterosexual people do and this is not fair.
To round off (considering this was a US story) I have quote from the United States Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
All men (and women) are created equal and if they do not have the same opportunities in life than the next person then we have gone badly wrong as a race.