Thursday, February 23, 2012

Our Story at GLBT Bookshelf

Our Story, a review feature for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer historical fiction has just been launched at the GLBT Bookshelf. Nan Hawthorne, an experienced book reviewer, is running the feature, and I am contributing supporting bits. As you know, I am interested in historical fiction (especially nautical), with gay characters, so I'm delighted the GLBT Bookshelf is willing host and support our feature.

It's a Wiki-based technology, so is always a work in project to which anyone can contribute.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Gay Marriage and Miscegenation

Loving vs. Virginia, 1967.

I and more than two hundred years of my family became unequivocally legal in 1967. That was the year that the United States Supreme Court struck down Virginia's 1924 anti-miscengenation law. The couple that challenged it with the interracial couple of Mildren and Richard Loving. When they married in Washington, DC, then returned to Virginia, they were arrested, and banned from living in the state of Virginia for 25 years.

I was aware of Loving vs. Virginia even as a child. It was the first Supreme Court case I ever became aware of, and the one which I deeply admire. Starting during the colonial period, the American states flipflopped on interracial marriage--interracial meaning a white person and a person of any other race, black, red, brown, or yellow. My family is mixed blood, part Native American, part European American. There have been a number of mixed blood marriages in my mother's family tree, so much so that it is impossible to compute my blood quantum. I am anywhere from one fourth to one sixty-fourth Native American thanks to those intermarriages. Not until 1967 could my mother's family rest assured that they and their marriages were as good as other people.

Now we are faced with the controversy over gay marriage -- a controversy that shouldn't be a controversy at all. Civil marriage is a civil right. Loving vs. Virginia tells us so. Two adults have the right to marry. Read the language of the Loving decision--it utterly affirms the importance of marriage equality. Criticisms of marriage equality whether based on race or sexual orientation rest on the same bigoted principle: that God made people a certain way and they are not allowed to use their God-given brains to make their own choices.

There are some folks that insist that gay marriage is completely different than miscengenation -- but it's not. The arguments are against both are exactly the same -- that it's unnatural, that it violates the Bible, that it's not healthy for children, that it undermines 'real' marriage, that it offends sincerely held religious beliefs.

Bullshit. Why should should a minority sect of Christianity be allowed to dictate to individuals who are not members of that faith? I am not a member of that church and I promise, I won't ask to hold my gay marriage in your church. However, I assert my Constitutional right to freedom of religion, and that means I have the right to act on my own religious beliefs, and my religions blesses same sex marriage.

It is a fundamental principle of American government that religion and state are separate. That means the state should not perform marriages at all because marriage is a religious right. It ought to issue the marriage license without discrimination, the same as it issues all others licenses, such as fishing, driver's, business, etc. In other words, that any adult who shows up, fills out the forms, and pays the money, should get the license. It is the couple's responsibility to arrange whatever marriage ceremony they desire -- having a friend officiate, getting married in their church (assuming they belong to a church that performs same sex marriages), or having a private ceremony of just themselves.

In other words, every church has freedom of religion. Religions that practice bigotry can do so in their own sects and sanctuaries. They can decide who they will marry and who they will not. They have always had this right. Legalizing same sex civil marriage has zero impact on this. What legalizing same sex marriage does is to legalize my religion and the many other religions that practice marriage equality. The Constitution protects our religion, too.