Milt Hankins: Who’s to say who can marry whom?
Why are political neoconservatives and religious fundamentalists so angered and threatened by same-gender marriage? Now that “don’t ask don’t tell” is over, Vice President Biden recently predicted “the evolution in thinking that will permit gays to soon serve openly in the military eventually will bring about a national consensus for same sex marriage.”
The Declaration of Independence ensures “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.” I memorized the Preamble to the Constitution in school, and it spoke of “establish[ing] justice, and secur[ing] the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
I know the passages from the Bible used by homophobes to demonize gay people. They come from the Holiness Codes (Leviticus and Deuteronomy) which, generally speaking, are simply ignored. St. Paul wrote to the believers in Rome disapproving certain forms [to him] of unseemly behavior. But, Jesus never uttered a single word about homosexuality. Not a SINGLE word, Christians!
Gay people are, generally speaking, hard-working folks who pay their taxes and serve their communities. They own businesses, are professionals, serve in the military, and some attend churches where they are welcome!
They are people just like you and me. In my opinion, they should have the same God-given rights we all enjoy. They should be treated with no more or no less respect than every other citizen in a free society.
Gays have the right to love whomever they fall in love with. They have the right to spend their lives with the person they love. They should absolutely have the same civil rights afforded everyone else.
I have been hearing a good many people express the belief that our government is too intrusive; that is to say, that government should stay out of our business unless our business interferes with the rights of others. Maybe government needs to get out of the bedroom, too! For the life of me, I cannot figure out how two men or two women who love each other and wish to spend their lives together, sharing their fortunes or lack thereof, infringe upon the rights of anyone else in our society.
There is something intrinsically wrong with laws which dictate who, or who cannot, be legally married. Marriage is a commitment (covenant) between two individuals to share with each other “in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health,” and to join together “to serve God and each other as long as [they] both shall live.”
When I lead two people to say these words, I tell them “I do not marry you; you marry each other. And, your marriage will be exactly what you make of it.” Their marriage, vows, and lives — gay or straight — have absolutely no effect whatsoever on my marriage or my relationships. Neither will they alter the nature or meaning of marriage in our society.
Milt Hankins of Ashland, Ky., is a retired minister, theologian and freelance writer.