Sunday, March 13, 2011


The best argument for the proposition that America is a center-right country is that, whereas states like Utah and Mississippi can be counted on to support conservative measures, even the so-called “bluest” states aren’t reliably blue. That point was driven home yet again this week in my own home state of Maryland.

Currently, there are five states that legalize gay marriage. After a bill that would do the same in Maryland passed the State Senate, the Old Line State seemed destined to be the sixth. The Governor indicated he would sign the legislation, and the House was known to be more liberal than the Senate. So it’s a done deal, right? That certainly was the conventional wisdom.

Unfortunately, those of us who had counted our chickens before they hatched had failed to take into account the power of right-wing religious ideas even among supposedly progressive communities. And when push came to shove, the bill was done in by the “liberals” from the African-American and Catholic communities. They’ll reliably vote Democrat, but that doesn’t mean they condone “sodomy.”

The irony of African-American opposition to the gay marriage bill became quite the subject of debate among Maryland legislators. Some African-Americans pointed out the obvious: that it wasn’t long ago when conservatives thought that blacks and whites shouldn’t be able to marry each other, so how in good conscience can African-Americans support a law that prohibits other pairs of consenting adults from joining in holy matrimony? But merely to ask the question is to answer it. To a large swath of religious people, homosexuality can never be holy. It says so right there in the Lord’s book. Marriage is a sacred rite. And homosexuality is a sin. Never the twain shall meet. Those, apparently, are the views of a substantial percentage of Maryland’s progressive community.

Candidly, other than representatives of orthodox religious communities, I haven’t met a single Democrat who admits to opposing gay marriage. They’re hard to find in Reform or Reconstructionist Jewish congregations, that’s for sure. Among progressive Jews, gay marriage is a civil right. In fact, it’s more than just a right – the marriage ceremony is a sacred rite, bringing together two consenting adults who pledge their undying love to each other. Whether it involves two men, two women or one of each seems irrelevant to us. Whether the two can have children, want to have children, or will have children also seems irrelevant. We all know plenty of heterosexual couples who haven’t tried to have children, and none of us question whether their marriage is authentic.

It’s difficult enough for me to contemplate why progressives would attempt to take away the opportunity for two consenting adults to enjoy an undying love together. But what boggles my mind is how this right can be stripped … in the name of God? I’m sorry, but I can’t help believing that in 500 years, people will look back at those who once opposed gay marriage the same way that we today look at those who once opposed interracial marriage. Granted, the one kind of opposition might be grounded in Scripture, whereas the other isn’t, but Scripture also commands killing adulterers and women who aren’t virgins on their wedding night. Do we really want all religious people to dip into our respective Scriptures and advocate prohibitions of non-violent conduct among consenting adults? Do we really want the words of our Scriptures to determine whether our Government gets into the business of whether we should fall in love with a man or a woman? Or are we saying simply that, according to God, some people have the right to get married and others don’t? Whatever message is being sent here, it is neither modern nor spiritual.

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