New York State Legislature

A Path Breaking Week For Gay Rights In America!

This week in July 2011 will be remembered as the week of path breaking events for gay rights in America!

After a long period of patience, major progress is being made in the following ways:

1. On Sunday, the first gay marriages will be performed in New York City and around the state of New York, a month after the state legislature enacted this basic human rights issue.

2. The Department of Justice under President Obama is now advocating the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, and hearings have been held to move toward repeal, although it is likely that will lead to resistance by Republicans in the House of Representatives.

3. The Defense Department is today certifying that they back the formal end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military, and that they see no problem of gays being openly accepted in the military, and that it will not interfere with the internal cohesion and unity of the armed forces.

4. Additionally, in a very touching manner, comedian Stephen Colbert of the Comedy Channel issued a video in which he talked about children being bullied and called “Queer” in middle school, and how when he was so bullied, although not being gay, a friend reacted in a way that disarmed bullies harrassing his friend. Colbert said, in serious terms, words cannot hurt you if you decide to think of yourself as a person who has value and significance and purpose, and that things will get better if one understands that words should not be allowed to interfere with one’s self esteem, so hang in there, and one’s life will become better with patience. This is a beautiful message that needs to be spread all over America, to prevent bullying from leading to young men and women committing suicide, and was the best possible action Stephen Colbert could possibly have taken to deal with the epidemic of bullying and resultant suicide occurring in America!

So the long road to human rights advancement in a new area of concern has been successful, and the New York legislature, Governor Andrew Cuomo, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, and comedian Stephen Colbert must be acknowledged and applauded for their courageous efforts in this regard!

Religion And Same Sex Marriage: Not Uniform In Opposition!

The general impression that most Americans have is that all organized religious groups condemn the idea of same sex marriage, but nothing is farther from the truth!

Certainly, in a broad sense, the following groups DO oppose gay marriage with great vehemence: Evangelical Christians, the Catholic Church, Mormons, Orthodox Jews, African American Protestants, and Hispanic Pentecostals.

However, at the same time, the following groups often support the concept of gay marriage as legitimate: Mainline Protestant groups, including Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, United Church of Christ, and Lutherans, although all have splits on the issue; some rebel Catholic groups; and Reform Judaism.

It is clear that clergy were intimately involved in the passage of gay marriage in the New York State legislature, convincing a few Republicans to switch over to support, which would make the difference between victory and defeat.

Religious groups are divided on the subject, so one cannot say that those who speak for God are uniformly opposed, and progress has been made over the past decade in changing many religious groups to have an open mind and a tolerant view of promoting commitment and love outside the mainstream!