Does the church really need protection from queer people?
An angry queer rant in light of the current debate on marriage equality in New York State
“Protection for religious groups is the last major issue to be worked out in Wednesday's negotiations over a bill that would legalize same-sex marriages in New York state,” said a typical lead in a news story on this week’s still unfolding drama over the possibility of New York State’s legalization of gay marriage (this one from WNBC, http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/In-the-Balance-Senate-Stuck-on-Gay-Marriage-124271529.html). The only thing standing between gay and lesbian New Yorkers and their right to marry is religious – Christian – opposition – and the mainstream media coverage out of Albany has been all about the Senate Republicans’ concern for adequate protections for religious institutions in the bill.
Let’s be clear about what this really means. Here’s the translation: GOP lawmakers are refusing to even bring the most important piece of civil rights legislation in the country right now to a vote until they can guarantee that it will not hinder churches’ ability to continue to discriminate against gays and lesbians. “Protections” here is a (PR evil genius) code word for the right to discriminate. Because, of course, we are all about the separation of church and state and God forbid we get in the way of the ongoing persecution of LGBT people that has been led and fueled by institutionalized Christianity.
Isn’t it bad enough that religious homophobia contributes to the bullying and suicides of gay kids? Isn’t it bad enough that church condemnation gives moral cover to queer bashers and hate crimes against LGBT people continue to rise? Isn’t is bad enough that queer clergy are drummed out of churches, queer people are denied church weddings, membership and sacraments, and most LGBT people in search of spiritual communities cross “Christian” off the list of options where the might look to find a religious home? Must we “protect” churches even further??
The pandering to religious homophobia going on in Albany right now is exactly the reason why Christians opposed to their churches’ bigotry must speak up, rise up, fight back and end it now. Not only do churches continue to inflict spiritual violence on LGBT people with the lie that there is something less than holy and God-ordained about being queer; they are also the major reason our civil rights are denied.