I'm writing to you because of who you are in my life. Of all the people I've met in my life who claim that a god exists, you have come closest to living a life of love, respect and charity. You have been an anchor, a constant, in my life of emotional turmoil and instability. Perhaps this is why I have such a strong reaction when you discuss your position on homosexuality and equality for the LGBT community.
We humans have a visceral need to be understood and acknowledged by others. I defer to that need in this communication. I know that one of your friends is gay. I know that you regularly refer to that friendship when this issue comes up in our conversations. I know that you are sincere in your beliefs. I also know that your beliefs contribute to the continued prejudice against the gay community, perhaps even more than the beliefs of a group like my family. It is your very kindness and sincerity that makes this so. It's easy for reasonable people to dismiss the extremists on an issue. "That's not my god or my belief," goes the argument, and the mainstream Christian community continues on undeterred in its quiet, unassailable support for a terrible injustice.
The immediate issue that prompted this letter was an article I read the other morning. The article explains the argument of Linda Harvey, a radio host on an Ohio-based Christian radio station. She is quoted as saying, "Why should the equal protection argument be made in favor of homosexual behavior, which is changeable? People are not naturally homosexual, so the definition of 'person' in the Fourteenth Amendment is being twisted to make this assumption." She goes on to say, "'Person' should be understood based on historic, beneficial, or at least neutral and fact-based traits; it should not be twisted to incorporate behavior that most religions and most cultures have said a firm 'no' to." In other words, a gay person should be considered something less than a person. Now, it's easy to dismiss Ms. Harvey as part of the fringe, with its extreme ideology regarding the gay community, but in fact, her argument follows a very popular, ultimately deadly, path.
Consider this quotation:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
This actually appears under Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution. It stands as an eternal example of mankind's ability to rationalize the slavery of black men by calling them something less than a person.
Or this one:
Just as the night rises against the day, the light and dark are in eternal conflict. So too, is the subhuman the greatest enemy of the dominant species on earth, mankind. The subhuman is a biological creature, crafted by nature, which has hands, legs, eyes and mouth, even the semblance of a brain. Nevertheless, this terrible creature is only a partial human being.
Although it has features similar to a human, the subhuman is lower on the spiritual and psychological scale than any animal. Inside of this creature lies wild and unrestrained passions: an incessant need to destroy, filled with the most primitive desires, chaos and coldhearted villainy.
This particular piece of nasty work was part of a pamphlet arguing that the "Untermenschen," the "subhuman" Jewish population of Europe, should be exterminated. Note again that the essence of the argument is the supposed failure of the Jewish people to meet society's definition of personhood.
I know you would argue that your love for your gay friend is evidence that you hold no such ideology, and I believe that, Maria. However, you do allow your faith (belief without evidence) to justify your refusal to treat your friend as an equal in society. This isn't a simple argument about whether one approves or disapproves of certain behaviors of a people. This is about whether we as a society are going to keep our bargain with our fellow citizens to treat all as equal.
Certainly you don't hold to the ideology that justified slavery or genocide, but you do continue to give solace to those who do. This isn't an issue where we can find compromise. History has taught us that there's no such thing as pretty equal or separate but equal.
Maria, this letter is a deliberate attempt on my part to get you out of your mind and into your heart. While the majority of us sit back and deliberate over the niceties of our arguments, millions of people's lives are being adversely affected. I believe you love Samantha, but it's a love in spite of the fact that she's a lesbian. Qualified love is not love. If you love her, take the courageous stand to insist that she be treated as an equal.
In my eyes you are the best of the Christian community. For years I have watched you step back from mainstream religious ideology when it qualified your ideas of how the love of Christ should be demonstrated in practice. I'm asking you to engage that part of your heart again and reconsider this issue. As I understand it, Christ was a champion of those called "Untermenschen" by society. It's time for mainstream Christianity in America to rediscover their roots and tell the world that we can ultimately do what's right.
I love you, Maria.