Friday, July 09, 2010

Part of the Problem

Earlier this week, Hemant Mehta at FriendlyAtheist.com issued a challenge to Christians. At the end of this post, he said:
I want to see any Christian who finds this despicable to say so. Blog about it. Tell your Facebook friends. Tell your church members. Call out anyone who disagrees.
If you don't, you're part of the problem.
The above was with regard to the veto of House Bill 444 by the Hawaiian governor Linda Lingle. The Hawaiian legislature passed this bill, which gave gay couples in Hawaii civil unions with full some marriage rights (not marriage, but civil unions -- thanks Existential Punk for correcting me on the level of rights). On the afternoon of July 6, Governor Lingle vetoed the bill.

Last week, I posted that I supported the Marin Foundation's "I'm Sorry" campaign. I think it's fantastic that people in the Church are reaching out, both figuratively and literally to embrace those in the LGBT community. Hemant didn't think much of it (other bloggers too, but Hemant's blog is the only one that I regularly read and occasionally participate in the conversation). I can understand his skepticism, especially given that the religious community, particularly the Christian church, has been a driving force in denying or removing rights for LGBT couples. It's hard to see the value of an apology when there is active work to prevent gay couples from having the same legal rights as straight couples.

Nevertheless, I think what Nathan and the others did was really great and I said so. I believe that apologies are powerful things and I have a difficult time getting too analytical about the deeper meaning about a given apology. I think our best bet is to take them at face value and see how things pan out. If someone is lying or the promise is empty, we'll see that. But dismissing an apology preemptively? That just seems cold to me. Which is basically what I said on Hemant's blog.

So that probably puts me in the group that Hemant is addressing in his post from Wednesday.

While I'm not here to "call out" those who agree with Gov. Lingle's actions (sorry Hemant, I'm trying not to do that!), I do want to make it perfectly clear, once again, that I fully support gay marriage. But as I've said that numerous times here, I'm going to explain why I'm particularly frustrated with the veto in Hawaii.

I am disappointed in Gov. Lingle's actions because of several things. First, she waited until the last possible moment to veto the bill. If she really thought that it's a problem, veto it immediately and then give the system (and by extension the people of your state) time to respond. Waiting until the last minute is just cowardly.

Second, most gay marriage rulings have run through the court system. Personally, I have no problem with that -- the courts are what ultimately made decisions about interracial marriage, so it's not like it's never been done that way before. But in Hawaii, that's not how it happened. It was passed by the elected state legislature. Representative government and all of that.

Finally, I can't say how many times I've heard that it's the word marriage the people object to when it comes to LGBT rights. I've heard over and over that civil unions are fine, just don't call it marriage. The Hawaiian legislature called it a civil union. Yes, it offers the same rights and benefits of marriage, but it was a separate term. And yet the governor vetoed the bill because it was "essentially marriage by another name."

I'm not sure if I'd say it's despicable (well, if you catch me on the right day, maybe). But it's very disappointing.

In an article yesterday about the ruling about DOMA handed down by a federal judge, Andrew Sullivan had a comment that really resonated with me about the whole issue, and why I feel like this is so important.
This issue is neither right nor left; it is about human dignity, civil equality and civil rights.
I've got to say, those things sound pretty good to me.

What do you think about the apology from the Marin Foundation? Do you see this primarily as a religious or a civil rights issue? 

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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
 
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