Monday, July 4, 2011

Response to Letter to the Editor on Same-Sex Marriage

In the July 1 edition of the Poughkeepsie Journal, there was a letter to the editor with the headline “Marriage equality not a religious issue” submitted by John Vincent of Wappingers Falls. I am responding to this letter to set the record straight, since it was loaded with misinformation. I’ll put his letter in italics and my responses in normal type.

I am saddened by some religious leaders’ and members’ printed reactions to the good news of civil marriage equality in New York state.
First, religions are tax-exempt as nonpolitical organizations and should therefore play no role in politics. The U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state.

Two points here: First, Vincent has misinterpreted the First Amendment like so many people who don’t understand its original (and clear) intent. The Separation Clause certainly does not prohibit churches and pastors from participating in the democratic process, including public discourse. Second, IRS rules prohibit churches and pastors (from the pulpit) from publicly endorsing a candidate for office. However, issues can be opposed or supported without fear of losing tax-exempt status.

Second, the biblical definition of marriage was actually one man with numerous women as his property.

The biblical definition can be found in Genesis 2:24: For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (NIV)

Notice it says “wife” (singular), not “wives” (plural). In the New Testament, Jesus affirmed the biblical model of one women and one man in Matthew 19:4-6: “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (NIV)

Biblical characters having multiple wives and owning slaves don’t mean those are biblical models of behavior.

Third, only civil, not church, marriage provides the medical, financial and protective government rights for couples and families.

This statement doesn’t make any sense, except in Europe, where civil ceremonies are performed in addition to church weddings. In the U.S., pastors and rabbis are agents of the state when they perform wedding ceremonies. A church wedding results in a valid marriage with the resulting benefits.

Fourth, religions are to not judge, support families, and protect the sick and needy, not persecute them.

Churches, pastors and others aren’t persecuting anybody when it comes to same-sex marriage. Churches that oppose redefining marriage and family, which is what same-sex marriage does, are exercising their right of free speech to express an opinion on the subject. Opposing a position doesn’t mean you are persecuting supporters of that position.

Fifth, given the numerous lawsuits against protected pedophile priests and scandals regarding Pentecostal ministers, the Catholic Church and fundamentalist churches should put their resources into that.

This statement shows the writer’s hostility towards religion. Pedophile priests and other problems are regrettable, and the Catholic Church and other churches have taken steps to prevent these things from happening.

I am proud that my religion and my local legislators like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Steve Saland and Assemblyman Joel Miller supported all taxpayers and their families in New York.

I wonder what “religion” the writer follows since he seems to be hostile to religion.

We each have someone born gay/lesbian in our family. Now New York will be a better place for all of us. Also, $400 million will be added to New York’s ailing economy over the next three years.

Some of us do have LGBT family members, and so we appreciate that this is not just a theoretical discussion, but something that involves real people and their lives.

Legislators who voted no, like Sens. Greg Ball and Bill Larkin, will be remembered in history as we remember those who fought against the end of slavery.

Hyperbole. This is not a civil rights issue, although its supporters make it out to be.

Let the weddings begin! Next step, repealing the un-constitutional so-called Defense of Marriage Act for federal equal rights.

I can’t see how DOMA is unconstitutional unless you misinterpret the Constitution as the writer did in his first point in his letter.

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