I feel unprepared to write this post. To be honest, I am more uncomfortable than unprepared. Uncomfortable, because my view or opinion about whether or not same-sex marriage should be legal is not fully developed. I can say I am against same sex marriage from a religious standpoint. However, I do not think Proposition 8 should have been passed. It removed the right for gay couples to be married when that right had already been accorded to them. What will happen to all those couples who were married before the Prop 8 passed? Blacks and Latinos were overwhelming supporters of the proposition, baffling gays and lesbians who thought that these historically oppressed groups would be natural allies.
For the most part, blacks are social conservatives, a fact that is lost on most people. That blacks supported this measure is not surprising to me. Homosexuality is usually shrouded in silence in most black churches. In my experience, those people rumored to be gay in the churches I attended were accepted as long as they were not open with their orientation. Homosexuality was only mentioned from the pulpit as immoral and sinful. The phrase, “Hate the sin, Love the sinner”, was a common antidote I heard and, frankly, accepted. It was not until my time in seminary that I had an epiphany after conversations with my peers. Previously, I saw homosexuality as a sin, something that could be forgiven. I saw homosexuality as a lifestyle that could be chosen, an act that could be stopped. My epiphany was this. Homosexuality is more than a lifestyle it is one of the defining parts of someone’s being. I could no more separate a person’s orientation from their essence as I could separate my race or gender from who I am. So that common mantra, “Hate the sin, Love the sinner” was impossible and highly offensive. I stopped at this epiphany and never became outspoken about it.
Any intelligent, reasoned conversation about homosexuality cannot start where most Christians want to begin, a discussion of the act as sin. We will constantly be at loggerheads. We must start from a place of love and acceptance of the total person. This is frightening for many. Homophobia asks, if I love my homosexual brothers and sisters, accepting every part of them, then does that call my own sexual orientation into question? This is always the first fear, I think, for most people. Heterosexual men, especially, have a deep problem with this fear. I would go further and say that black heterosexual men have an even deeper quandary especially given the ways they have been portrayed as sexually deviant. In light of the cultural legacy of slavery, manhood is a really complex issue in the black community, the likes of which would need its own forum to unpack.
Also, how can someone’s religious views justify withholding civil rights? I think this is what happened in California, Florida, Arkansas, and Arizona. Many conservatives see same-sex marriage as a violation of the sanctity of marriage and a threat to families. In reality, I think this stance really asserts that homosexuals’ very existence and their right to equal civil rights somehow threatens heterosexuals. This sounds a lot like the logic used to justify oppression against non-whites. I read somewhere that Mormons funneled a lot of money into passing Prop 8. This is somewhat surprising given their historical legacy of plural marriage, not quite one man, one woman, eh?
This discussion is uncomfortable for me because I have friends and family on both sides of the issue. I think I have been a chameleon, adopting my rhetoric to suit the company I was keeping at the time. I do not want to do this anymore. I want to enter into more dialogue about this. I am not seeking to offend, only to understand. God help us all. I boldy welcome your comments.