Why Two?

The question has been asked, and it’s time it was answered. A select few mainstream evangelicals are posing this question, and although responses have been attempted, none have yet proved sufficient. “Why Two? Why not three, or four, or ten?” This question, of course, is about marriage. Having won the battle for the rights of two people of the same sex to marry, we now face a question designed by evangelicals to trap us into a moral corner. The assumption is that we are insistent upon marriage being confined to only two partners, and because they see our victory as a redefinition, they want to hear our explanation as to why we insist upon two. “If you are redefining marriage anyway, why stop now? Why two? Why not more?”

Now, if you are in the pro marriage equality camp, and you do feel that marriage must be confined to two partners, I would love to hear it. But our movement was never about just two. It’s about equality, and the historic fight won in the U.S. Supreme Court was about people of the same sex being able to enter into a marriage contract with one another – two because that’s the marriage convention we have. If a group of polygamists/polygynists began demanding the right to marry tomorrow, I for one would not have a problem with it; and here’s why:

Relationships that have a sexual component, in this case marriage, hinge on consent. The reason we do not allow children to marry children, or adults to marry children or animals, is because children and animals do not have the mental or emotional capacity to understand the meaning of such relationships; and cannot appropriately give consent. In the case of adults, be it two or more than two, consent can freely be given. Polygamy may not be right for you, it certainly wouldn’t work for me, but where consent is present, I see no reason to impose restrictions on it based on my own distaste. I can’t answer the question “why two,” because I am not of the mindset that it must be only two.

I must admit, I find this question a bit curious, considering where it comes from. Those posing it are firmly in the “only two” camp, and every time a progressive says what I just said, they feel a small sense of victory. “Ha! See? They have no morals! They say they are good people, but they just contradicted themselves!” The problem is that nobody contradicted themselves at all. I am a good person, and believing that marriage between consenting adults is okay, be it between two or more people, doesn’t make me a bad person. Among the many assumptions these opponents make is the belief that we agree with their morality, at least to a certain point. “We believe marriage is between two people, they agree with us on that, so if they say polygamy is okay, they have made a moral contradiction.” The reasoning behind this question is ludicrous, and based on an unfounded premise. Many of us do not agree.

The first five books of the Bible talk positively about polygamy frequently, and it’s used in all sorts of contexts – economic necessity, social organization, even by divine command. Two-person marriage is not the only God-ordained form outlined in the scriptures, yet it is seen as a fundamental issue of morality today that only two people, one man and one woman, be granted the right to it. The question “why two” is a good one, but it is being asked of the wrong people. Those asking “why two” need to have the question turned back on them. To the evangelicals asking us “why two,” I ask the same of you. I never said “two,” and the funny thing is your Bible doesn’t insist upon it either. So why two? Why is it that you are so adamant that marriage be between two people? Let’s be honest, you have more scriptural support for your arguments against same-sex marriage than you do against polygamy; and that’s not much. So why two?

As a final thought, consider this. We on the progressive left are being challenged on moral grounds by people who believe a book that says a woman, subject to the will of her father, can be forced to marry her rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Exodus 22:16-17). We are being asked “why two” by followers of a God, eternally unchanging, who allows polygamy under certain circumstances (Genesis 16:1-11), and is arguably generally accepting of it when you take all of scripture into account. We are being asked “why two” by people who assume we think “just two.” They don’t know if we feel this way, they just assume we do, and cry moral foul when it turns out we don’t. To our evangelical opponents, perhaps you would care to answer the question: Why two?

 

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Caitlyn Jenner Is Not An Expert

I am quite annoyed with Caitlyn Jenner’s stance on¬†marriage equality (despite her back-peddling and justifying, she’s opposed). I am also annoyed with the fact that she’s a republican. I am even more annoyed with how those in the anti-equality camp use people like Caitlyn to make their case. From their perspective, an LGBTQ+ person against LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms is tremendous support for their position. The lack of support from a prominent LGBTQ+ figure can be surprising to us as well, but there’s something we should all keep in mind … being LGBTQ+ doesn’t mean you know anything about the issues facing the community, or the first thing about social equality.

Activists on both sides of history, take note because this is important. Being gay, lesbian, bi, pan, trans, queer, etc, doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Imagine the absurdity of expecting a cisgender female to know everything about the suffragette movement, or expecting an African-American child to be born with an innate knowledge of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We learn things by seeking out information, and even though being a member of a minority community does afford useful insight, it does not come with any particular knowledge.

Caitlyn Jenner is affluent, famous, and lives in a world that most of us can’t imagine. She is the most famous Trans woman in the world, and she should probably educate herself on LGBTQ+ issues before offering an opinion. I see no reason why we should necessarily view her as a credible voice on marriage equality. She is a person with her own interests and pursuits. She knows what she has sought to learn. Being Trans does not make her an expert of any kind.

During university, and ever since, I sought and absorbed as much information as I could. My knowledge of church doctrine, my reading of scripture, my understanding of struggle and how it affects those involved, my arguments against those who seek to deny rights and protect privilege, all came about because I worked for it. My identity as a Genderqueer person gives me insight into living that, but offers no knowledge. We earn what we know.

Caitlyn Jenner’s stance on marriage equality should not hold any weight in arguments for or against. She came out to the world, and for that she has rightly received accolades for her courage. She has spoken out against the mistreatment of Trans youth, and that is to be commended. She is not, however, an expert on LGBTQ+ issues, nor does she appear to understand what life is like for those outside of her economic class. We must not take her position on this to heart, and our evangelical opponents would be best advised to not jump to using her as an example of support. It bears repeating that being LGBTQ+ doesn’t mean you know anything about the issues facing the community, or the first thing about social equality.

A Legitimate Question

On May 1st of this year, I asked “Anti-Gay Activists, Why Do You Persist?” Today I’m asking again. It’s not that I don’t understand the scriptural basis for your condemnation – I understand it very well. My question has to do with why you insist upon waging war against equality. Why the animosity? Since the landmark SCOTUS decision legalizing same-sex marriage, a number of pastors and religious leaders have blatantly declared outright war on the LGBTQ+ community and allies – even more than before. They just can’t let it go, and I’m curious as to why that is.

Bryan Fischer takes to the airwaves every day, and you can regularly count on him to decry the dangers facing America as a result of the acceptance of the “gay lifestyle.” He compares pro-equality activists to Hitler’s Nazi’s, and even claims that “Hitler surrounded himself with homosexuals because he couldn’t get straight soldiers to be savage enough.” What is it that makes a person feel so threatened that they resort to such bizarre and offensive falsehoods?

Politicians, televangelists, and country preachers write books, articles, and Facebook posts in which they claim that gay men are more likely to be child predators. The available research (credible research) on same-sex families suggests a different picture, and even if that information didn’t exist, the claims would still be speculative at best. Now, it would be one thing if they admitted speculation, they would just be wrong in that case, but they prefer instead to claim that they’ve actually researched the issues and know what they’re talking about. Why?

There are thousands of examples that could be used here. As a former evangelical homophobe, I understand the desire to aggressively jump at issues of equality when you believe that equality isn’t deserved, but these people are really taking it beyond the pale. Even when they’re caught lying or proven to be just flat-out ignorant, they don’t stop. Paul Cameron has been disowned by every reputable psychological association in North America, and Tony Perkins has never made a factual statement about the LGBTQ+ community; aside from the admission that they exist. Regardless, they continue to make things up and their followers stay loyal. They just keep lying. Why?

It must be stated again and again that this war is being fought entirely on one side. Our goal is simple – equality. That’s what we fight for, and we’re getting there. To the religious right, though, this fight is about the destruction of society. They are convinced that pro-equality activists are after their children, their churches, and their faith. As I said on July 9 of this year (“The Gay Agenda”), they are fighting a monster that doesn’t exist. They are fighting a war being waged only by them. We’re not even really responding. We just challenge the status quo in favour of a more loving and equal society, while they wage war on an enemy that exists only in their imagination. Why?

A tactic that bothers me most in all of this is when pastors and Christian publications occasionally read and publish transparently fabricated “ex-gay” letters. Christianity Today has done this in the past, and every once in awhile I come across these letters being read in sermons. When I read and listen to these, I almost feel embarrassed for whoever is presenting it. I also feel embarrassed for those who believe it. Obvious fabrications made to enforce homosexuality as a choice, a sickness, a curable disease. The ex-gay man who found solace in the arms of men because his father didn’t love him. The ex-gay woman who grew up with a single mother, and rejected men because her father had left them when she was young. The ex-gay convert to Christianity who found love in the arms of Jesus, and in that love the strength to reject same-sex desires. Sound familiar? Now, I don’t want to downplay the experiences of someone who legitimately went through a tough time and triumphantly came through it, but the “ex-gay” movement is a sham. It’s a coercive religious movement that uses shame and guilt to force people back into the closet. Ex-gay stories are the evangelical equivalent of chance encounters written about in Penthouse Forum – made up scenarios to excite and engage those who believe that these things actually happen. The difference is that the “ex-gay” movement leaves a tragic mess of guilt-ridden and broken hearts in its wake.

I have always been open about my hateful past. I understand how it feels for a person who believes wholeheartedly that the Bible calls homosexuality an abomination. I understand that the perspective from that vantage point is completely closed to the possibility of being wrong, and entirely closed to the possibility that scripture was not written in a vacuum but has linguistic, historical, cultural, and spiritual contexts to it. All I’m asking here is for evangelicals reading this to think about the question. Why insist upon this so vehemently? I’ve asked this question before, but it bears repeating. You say “Jesus said to love everybody,” and you openly condemn in the same breath. Why? If I may be so bold as to suggest an approach similar to 1 Peter 3:15, ask yourself if there is a rational justification for your distaste toward LGBTQ+ people. It’s a legitimate question.

 

Kim Davis Broke The Law

Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who defied the Supreme Court and refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was found to be in contempt of court and sentenced to jail a few days ago. Cue her supporters, the droves of Christians who are now rushing to her defence, loudly screaming “foul” on the grounds of religious freedom being trampled. It’s a predictable response, and there’s one point her supporters are all missing … Kim Davis broke the law.

This case has nothing to do with religious freedom. Everybody has the right to freely practice their religion, but they do not have the right to impose their beliefs on others. When you work as a public servant, your right to religious freedom is limited to you – you may not infringe on the rights of the people your job requires you to serve. This is how rights and freedoms work in general. My right to swing my arm ends at my neighbour’s nose. When a law ensuring the rights of an oppressed group is passed, you follow it, and if you refuse to follow it you suffer legal consequences. It’s not complicated. The same thing happened when Jim Crow laws were abolished. People complained about losing religious freedom then as well, but I think we can all agree that re-enacting those laws would be a very bad thing.

The U.S. Supreme Court took mandatory prayer out of schools in the early 1960’s. That was one of many legal actions made to remove the imposition of Christian values onto people who do not subscribe to, or practice, Christianity. These laws are in place because they are good for us as a society. We may all freely practice the religion of our choosing, including none at all, but the government can’t take sides. When state laws are based upon religious belief, equality is, by definition, impossible. We follow the laws that bring equality closer, and if we are jailed for our refusal to do so, we may NOT then truthfully say that our religious freedom is being trampled. This is what has happened in the Kim Davis case.

Please don’t try to make Kim Davis going to jail into a reason to complain about religious freedom falling by the wayside. She is NOT a martyr. She refused to issue marriage licenses to a specific group of people, despite her job requiring her to. She broke the law, and she is suffering the legal consequences of doing so. Her anti-gay stance IS disgusting, it IS deplorable, and yes I DO think she is presenting herself in a very negative way … but none of that has anything to do with her going to jail. Before you start to complain about Christians being jailed for their beliefs, understand that doing so is to complain about something that isn’t happening; at least not in this part of the world. There is but one fact here: Kim Davis broke the law.

 

#LoveWins

This is the 100th post on outspokenally.com, and I was planning on creating my first-ever video to mark the occasion. That plan, however, has had to change. I’m not yet ready, and with yesterday’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, I can’t wait to say something! What better way to mark this 100th post than by writing about history in the making!

If ever there was doubt as to the effectiveness of discussion, debate, and controversy in shaping cultural attitudes, one need only look to the U.S. In March, The Wall Street Journal and NBC conducted a survey which found that 59% of Americans supported same-sex marriage, up from 30% in 2004. Those numbers continue to climb, and this would never have happened if not for the tireless efforts of equality advocates and activists. The discussion, the debates, the arguments, the controversy, have all played their part in educating the American people. For the first time in the United States, the majority is on the right side of this issue, and yesterday the Supreme Court determined that the constitution agrees.

There will be dissent over this. Several state politicians tried to stall compliance yesterday. ‘Dr.’ Michael Brown spoke to his fans and followers saying “this is not the time to throw in the towel.” Meanwhile, we’ve all heard of the preacher threatening to set himself on fire if the decision went the way it has, and there’s more of this foolishness coming. What matters, though, is that same-sex couples can now be legally married anywhere in the country, and the law no longer allows state-run institutions to stall. Unfortunately, Mr. Brown, the towel has been thrown in for you; and if someone is willing to set himself on fire over the legalization of love and commitment, he has bigger problems. The dissent no longer matters. There are other battles to fight, other inequalities to be dealt with, but the battle over marriage is over – and love won!

What America does has worldwide implications. Others will follow suit, as LGBTQ+ people begin to see increasing social acceptance and legal recognition. The fight for other equalities continues of course, both at home and in countries where savagery toward the misunderstood still has majority support, but what happened yesterday will have resounding positive impact. We can celebrate this as a win for humanity! A win for same-sex couples! A win for love!

#LoveWins

 

Today Is The Day

Today is the day. The final showdown in which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear closing arguments in a case that will change the United States of America forever. Following today’s final arguments, in late June, the court is expected to issue a ruling that, if justice is served, will make same-sex marriage legal in ALL states.

It has been a hard fought battle, one that is not likely to end entirely even after the Supreme Court ruling. Outspoken Ally began writing in late 2013, when the marriage equality debate was reaching a fever pitch. For years, advocates, activists, allies, and others who believe in equal rights have been pushing and fighting for this. The U.S. Supreme Court has made some very good rulings toward marriage equality in the past, and if they rule in favour of the 14th Amendment (which is legally what this case is about), the institution of marriage will finally be open to people who have been denied it for no good reason.

As allies, advocates, and activists, we must keep a watchful eye on this. Outspoken Ally operates out of Canada, and our readers hail from all over the world. For those of us who are not Americans, this Supreme Court ruling is still important. Among the developed nations, the so-called “1st World” countries, the United States has perhaps the most reluctant population in regard to change. The evangelical and fundamentalist brands of Christianity are so deeply imbedded that diversity is sneered at by many; yet what America does will serve as an example for other countries wrestling with the same debates. Countries with influence set the pace, and although reluctant and slow to progress, this court decision will demonstrate what hard work, determination, and fighting for humanity can do in a nation with a less-than-stellar history of accepting difference.

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to change their nation for the better. Making marriage equality the law of the land will give legitimacy to families who have been humiliated by draconian laws and ideas; ones that have kept them from enjoying the full legal rights afforded to heterosexual couples.

From Outspoken Ally, we hope for success and remind the United States Supreme Court that the world is watching. Those of us who have legalized marriage equality, and those who have not, are watching. We hope that, in June, you join the many progressive nations on the right side of history; and in so doing encourage all others to do the same.

Marriage News-Watch clip: http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2015/04/marriage-news-watch-april-27-2015/

“Boys Will Be Boys”

Preschool – Sam and Jeff are playing in a sandbox, when a little girl walks into the yard. The two boys approach her. Jeff leans in to give her a kiss. She turns away. Sam grabs her so that Jeff can give her a kiss, and they laugh as she runs away screaming … boys will be boys. Middle School -Some friends are hanging out at the local playground. Sam, Jeff, and Mike are tossing a football around. Jeff screws up his throw, and the ball drops like a brick in front of him. Sam and Mike taunt him. “You throw like a girl” … boys will be boys. High School – It’s his senior year, and Jeff is heading out to a movie with his girlfriend. His father, who has never talked to his son about respect or a woman’s right to her own body, meets him at the door. Handing him a condom, he smiles and says “have a good time, son” … boys will be boys. Marriage – Jeff gets married to the woman of his dreams. About a year into the relationship, he is growing irritated over the lack of sex in their relationship, the fact that she doesn’t clean as often as she used to, and her constant failure to live up to the standard of what he was taught a wife should be. Rather than evaluate how he might become a more attentive and loving spouse, or realize that his wife is a person rather than a possession, he resorts to beating and raping her into submission … boys will be … wait a minute. How did this happen?

From preschool through to adulthood, we are told that “boys will be boys.” This one simple phrase is used to explain away behaviours that, rather than being inherent like the phrase would have us believe, are learned. They are learned through our experiences, interactions, and relationships. Although not representative of every man subjected to these ideas, the fictional character of Jeff is all too real. The experience in preschool taught him that girls are weak and can be objectified for his amusement. The taunting over his botched throw in Middle School taught him that girls are not to be taken seriously, and are terrible at sports. The deplorable example set by his father re-enforced all of that, and taught him to assume that, as a man, he is entitled to have sex with any woman he takes out (her choice doesn’t even enter into the equation … she should want it). When it came to marriage, Jeff looked for a wife who embodied the qualities that he was taught he deserved. Pretty, obedient, submissive, a good cook, domestically inclined, and wholly dedicated to him. When those expectations weren’t met, he dealt with it in a way that he assumed was appropriate. If women are weak sexualized objects who are not to be taken seriously, and less valuable than men overall, then how else would he “keep her in line?” Given what he was taught about women, beating and rape seemed to him appropriate discipline and acceptable marital relations. The misogynistic, sexist, and egocentric ideals ingrained within him led to a worldview completely out of touch with reality. Like it or not, gender roles are no longer what they were in the 1950’s. We still cling to tradition though, don’t we? Boys will be boys, after all.

Rape culture is gaining in popularity, and with that overall abuse against women is on the rise. Modern Feminism is under attack by both men and women who subscribe to patriarchal ideals while claiming that the patriarchy doesn’t exist. The patriarchy, however, is a historical fact. One has only to open any history book to see that, and “boys will be boys” is the greatest method by which it stays alive.

Forget “boys will be boys.” Boys are not inherently anything in particular, and neither are girls. We are taught, depending on our physical sex, what is expected of us. Our gendered behaviours are learned. Boys will be what they are taught to be. If the phrase “boys will be boys” is to remain in use, I do hope that it someday looks something like this: Jeff and his wife, Mary, went out to dinner. While at the restaurant, they had a deep discussion in which ideas flowed and Jeff was reminded of the qualities that he loved most about Mary. Intelligent, independent, strong, caring, and beautiful. Having been taught that women are human beings with equal value and dignity, Jeff’s union with Mary was an exemplary model of love, respect, and commitment. She made him feel whole … boys will be boys.