I am ever open to guest bloggers, and Jason of Out-With-it-Already has appeared regularly here at QueerCincinnati.com. He forwards this on to post here with our happy little nest of queer Cincinnati bloggers :-).
Let’s talk this all out, shall we?
Yesterday, NPR.org published an article titled, “Black Ministers In D.C. Divided Over Gay Marriage,” detailing the vocal opposition from predominantly African-American churches in D.C. to the recently approved bill that recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states.
We’ve got some good stuff in here:
“Like many evangelicals, Walker reads the Bible as the literal word of God. And he sees in those pages a blueprint for a healthy family. It’s not the only blueprint. Walker himself was raised by a single mother, and he appreciates the grandparents in his church who raise their grandkids.
“I’m not taking away from that,” he says. “But I think God’s perfect order for family is mom and dad.””
News flash: The world ain’t perfect and it never will be. But thanks for playin’, buddy!
“In 2007, Wiley and his co-pastor — his wife, Christine — held two same-sex blessings, prompting two-thirds of their congregation to leave. Since then, they’ve attracted new members who were looking for a gay-friendly black church.”
OK. I’ll take acceptance wherever I can get it but I have serious reservations when religious folk–well-intentioned as they usually are–begin meddling in same-sex marriage. I appreciate the Wileys’ commitment to the inclusion of same-sex couples in the institution of marriage but when they give blessings to these marriages they are misleading the general public into believing that same-sex marriage advocates aim to require religious entities to recognize and perform same-sex marriages. As I’ve always understood it, at least, same-sex couples are seeking civil marriage. Civil. As in not religious. Of course, many people–including LGBT people–are religious, so I can understand that some same-sex couples should desire any form of affirmation of their union from their respective religion. But this is dangerous territory we are entering, folks. When the general public believes same-sex marriages are happening in places of worship, then they are likely to vote against legislation allowing same-sex marriage because they overwhelmingly wish to preserve the tradition of their faith community.
“Wiley acknowledges that there are a handful of biblical passages condemning homosexuality. But he says blacks don’t take the Bible literally when it comes to racial issues.
“The Bible says, ‘Slaves, be obedient to your master,’ etc. Well, we don’t hear black people saying, ‘OK, we got to stick with that,’ ” Wiley says. “Yet when it comes to the issue of homosexuality, then people are running to the Bible.””
You speak great truth, Reverend Wiley.
“For Wiley, who studied under liberation theologian James Cone, gay rights are simply the next step in the civil rights movement. Like blacks, he says, homosexuals did not choose this life.
But Walker calls the comparison “ludicrous.”
“When I talk to most people of African descent, many of them are absolutely appalled by any comparison to the civil rights movement, simply because we cannot take off our blackness,” Walker says.”
Just as you, Reverend Walker, cannot “take off [your] blackness,” I cannot opt out of a feeling; I do not control attraction. Sure, I could make the CHOICE not to live openly and to deny my identity but I cannot CHOOSE to whom I am attracted. You, on the other hand, can CHOOSE to refrain from rhetoric that persecutes and marginalizes people seeking civil rights and protections completely outside of the religious realm in which you operate.
Here is an additional thought I have:
The media might also be holding us back. I’ll explain.
When reporting on marriages of same-sex couples, the language is almost always “gay marriage.” We need to move away from this notion of “gay marriage” and here’s why: Gay marriage sounds like “other marriage.” What I mean by this is that it sounds exactly like same-sex couples are in fact redefining marriage.
A marriage is a marriage, and we know that. You know who doesn’t know that?: A lot of people in the majority. If we can somehow strike “gay” from “gay marriage” and still find ways to accurately report on same-sex marriages, that’d be fantastic because, let’s face it, marriage cannot be gay. Marriage is not an orientation, or an identity, for that matter.
What also doesn’t help is that we still live in a world where the word “gay” continues to be used by people when they mean to say something is stupid, silly, or dumb. Translation: bad. So, when people here “gay marriage” is it not too difficult to see how they might be processing same-sex marriage as “bad marriage”?
Now, I recognize the difficulty reporters will have in creating concise headlines and news beats addressing same-sex marriage. Take NPR’s headline, “Black Ministers In D.C. Divided Over Gay Marriage.” Why do members of the media use the phrase “gay marriage”? Probably because it’s short and to the point and also because “same-sex marriage” includes the word “sex” which still shocks a lot of people. Never mind we’re talking about someone’s actual biological sex and not the act of sexual intercourse. Whose wise idea was it to use this same word–sex–for both? I can say I’m not happy with them.
However, herein lies the problem: Am I expecting that NPR’s headline might have read “Black Ministers In D.C. Divided Over Civil Marriages Between Same-Sex Couples”? Yeah, I’m not holding my breath on that one. But in my ideal world it would go something like that because if we allow media to continue using “gay marriage” to define our loving unions, we’ll be gettin’ wherever we’re goin’ real slow.