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Paul Brandeis Raushenbush

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LGBT Rights -- Getting On The Right Side of History

Posted: 05/08/2012 1:02 pm

There is a right and wrong side of history in the struggle for full and absolute equality for LGBT people.

All signs indicate that America is in the last decades of the misguided and hurtful effort to treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people as second class citizens. And, if history is any guide, a few decades after that the "mea culpa" and formal apologies will come.

We have seen this cycle of oppression and repentance before. Consider the great scourges of anti-Semitism, support of the institution of slavery and violence against indigenous and native peoples. Self-righteous people used selective scripture and "rational" thought to support theologies and world-views that dehumanized Jews, Africans and Native peoples and led to genocidal policies against these groups.

Then decades, and even centuries later, in dramatic examples of "far too little, far to late" the apologies came from church leaders and politicians.

We are in the middle of that oppression-repentance cycle currently with the willful maltreatment of the LGBT communities.

A vivid religious example is the United Methodist Church, which recently reaffirmed the idea that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. They did this while formally apologizing for the denomination's support of segregation and the oppression of native peoples in the past. Oh, the irony!

At the same time the Methodists throw one group under the bus, they extend a hand towards the groups that still have tire tracks on their backs. Of course, we know what comes next. In a few more decades, the Methodists will be having rituals of repentance for how they treated LGBT people.

Here's an idea. Why don't we just skip the "more oppression" part and move straight to the reconciliation and full communion? Saying that gay people can't be Christian (or really anything we want to be) isn't going to work much longer anyway.

People aren't buying the anti-gay rhetoric any more and the younger the person; the more likely they are to support full equality of gay and lesbian people. The problem with the anti-gay position is that people actually know gay people and recognize the fully humanity in their friend, brother, sister, mother, cousin and co-worker. Straight people aren't going to listen to anti-gay lies for much longer.

And now that LGBT people have tasted a tiny bit of what it means to be recognized as a full human being, we will never go back. No matter how much the preacher rails or the psychologist explains, LGBT people today will refuse to be described as sick or sinners because of our sexual or gender orientation. The more any LGBT person understands deep in their soul that they are wonderfully and beautifully made; the more untenable it will be for them to accept people preaching or teaching against them.

Once a soul and mind are freed, they can never be caged, or put back into the closet again.

Progress happens when people have faith that a better world is possible and are willing to work for it. The world is becoming more and more convinced that LGBT peoples must be acknowledged and admitted into full communion with the rest of humanity, and more and more people of all background are joining the struggle.

There is a right and wrong side of history for the struggle for full equality of LGBT peoples. The arc of the universe is bending towards justice for LGBT peoples. Those people who maintain anti-LGBT positions are going to be caught behind the curve.

And if history has taught us anything, those people who are so against gay people today will show up with their hats in their hands, repentant and asking for forgiveness for their sins.

But why wait? Get on the right side of history -- today.

 
 
 

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