"These things are old":

Religious and sexual freedoms are not opposed

posted by Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini

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Johns, Jasper (b. 1930) © VAGA, NY

Flags. 1968. Lithograph, printed in color, irreg composition: 34 5/8 x 25 7/8″; irreg sheet: 34 5/8 x 25 7/8″. Gift of the Celeste and Armand Bartos Foundation. (291.1968)

Location: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, U.S.A.

Photo Credit: Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY (ART193346)

On June 1st,President Barack Obama proclaimed June 2009 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month and called “upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.” If President Obama expected to be showered in lavender love in return for this proclamation, he was sorely disappointed. During June, grumbling about the Obama administration’s public stance on such issues as gays in the military, same-sex marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) reached a crescendo. Candidate Obama had expressed his determination to overturn the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy and DOMA; now-President Obama is taking a decidedly more muted tack—in the name of pragmatism. At a White House reception for invited gay and lesbian leaders on June 30th, with wife Michelle prominently at his side, the President implicitly acknowledged the slow pace of change (critics might say the no-pace of change) and counseled patience: “I know that many in this room don’t believe progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It’s not for me to tell you to be patient any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African-Americans who were petitioning for equal rights a half-century ago. We’ve been in office six months now. I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration.”

The timing of the reception was historically resonant, coming just two days after the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion. “Stonewall” began on June 28, 1969, when patrons at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, upset by constant police harassment, fought back and resisted arrest. Their resistance is commonly set down as the beginning of the modern gay and lesbian liberation movement in the US. As numerous historians of lesbian and gay history have argued, this way of narrating lesbian and gay history leaves out of view the important activist efforts—of groups like the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis—that preceded the events at the Stonewall Inn. This is not a minor historical quibble: Stonewall as origin tale forgets that social change happens over time, sometimes over a long time. If this is what President Obama means when he counsels his gay and lesbian critics to be “patient,” then we are sympathetic to this long view of what it means to build and sustain a social movement. But it is not clear that this is what the President had in mind with his call for “patience.”

Instead, Obama was asking for time so that Congress could take the lead on gay issues like DADT and DOMA. Obama’s reticence to speak out for gay rights, let alone show leadership on them, is all the more glaring in light of his much-vaunted ability to redefine the terms of public debate on a number of other divisive issues. For example, his promotion of “abortion reduction” has been widely hailed for the way it eschews the polar oppositions “pro-choice” and “pro-life” to produce a new political center. This new political center has seemed to come at the cost of Obama’s retreat from his previous support—in the Senate and on the campaign trail—for the “Freedom of Choice Act.”  When it comes to sexual freedom, the center does not seem to hold much promise at all, neither for a broad array of reproductive rights nor for LGBT rights. What makes gender and sexuality, but especially homosexuality, such a stumbling block for this otherwise rhetorically and strategically nimble politician?  As Hendrik Hertzberg put the matter in a recent New Yorker column, “where gays are concerned [Obama's] fine-tuned ear for the emotional resonance of his actions has an alloy of tin.”

As we argue in a forthcoming article in Social Research, this strange hesitation is due less to some personal failing on Obama’s part than to the force of Christian secularism in US. How so?  Not only does it seem pragmatically difficult for the Obama administration to address an issue like gay marriage, which remains a rallying cry for religious conservatives even as it may be less so for many other Americans, Obama’s commitment to marriage as between “one man and one woman” is in line with both his stated personal religious commitment and his efforts to promote a new culture of responsibility—from corporate executives to unmarried fathers—as part of the answer to the country’s economic problems. This language of “responsibility” (variants of which he used fourteen times in his first address to Congress) is not itself directly religious. It is, however, deeply indebted to a Christian, and specifically Protestant, understanding of the individual’s role in society. This version of responsibility connects secularism to Christianity even for those who understand themselves to be fully secular, and it does so by using gender and sexuality as sites of “moral” suture between individuals and the state. Simultaneously, Christian secularism links some conservative religious constituencies to broader secular forces such as the economic neoliberalism of the last thirty years, the devastating effects of which Obama is so desperately trying to manage. The secular parts of this equation are crucial to recognize, because focusing on religion alone not only occludes the many religious people who are themselves gay or supporters of gay rights, it also perpetuates the idea that religion is “the” problem blocking gay rights and sexual freedom more generally.

This notion—that religion and sexuality are somehow in opposition—is one of the few beliefs shared by opponents and supporters of gay rights. Yet it has significant policy implications, particularly in recent moves to enact far-reaching “religious exemptions” as a condition of passing state laws permitting same-sex marriage. In New Hampshire, Governor John Lynch threatened to veto same-sex marriage unless state legislators also passed a bill framed as “protecting” religion and extending “religious liberty,” but that in practice exempts religious organizations and their employees from otherwise applicable state anti-discrimination laws. (Legal scholar Nan Hunter has predicted that the New Hampshire language could become a model for same-sex marriage laws nationally.)

In our 2003 book, Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Freedom, we offer an extensive argument that religious freedom and sexual freedom are actually interdependent rather than oppositional. Unfortunately, the impact of “religious exemptions” like those included in the New Hampshire law is to codify a narrow version of religious freedom in which religious liberty and sexual freedom can only be seen as mutually exclusive. This is not just a loss for sexual freedom; it also significantly narrows the parameters of religious freedom offered by the US Constitution.

If there is a “religion problem” posed by gay marriage, it is not that some religious organizations might be “forced” to provide secular benefits to same-sex couples, such as healthcare or equal access to residential housing; it is rather the entanglement of the state with the business of any couple’s religious marriage. The problem here is that the state legitimates religious marriages, performed by members of the clergy, rather than only civil unions performed by representatives of the state, thus entangling, rather than separating, state and religious practice. When such entanglements are maintained in law, religious practice is not “protected” from the state any more than citizens are “protected” from the imposition of religious convictions they do not share. New Hampshire and other states could actually “protect” both religious practice and those who are not religious (or who are differently religious) by providing civil unions on the basis of equality and letting religious bodies provide for religious marriages. No secular benefits would then flow from religious marriage, and the secular benefits that follow on civil unions would be separated from religious debates over homosexuality.

This is not a matter of fine-tuning the President’s ear on gay issues. Instead, we call on him to take up a broad-ranging version of religious freedom as a means of reframing the entire debate over gay rights. Yes, of course Obama should repeal DADT—and suspend it immediately by executive order as is in his power. Of course he should move to repeal DOMA. But is this really the legacy of generations of activism for sexual freedom: gays in the military and marriage equality?  Or might sexual freedom implicate broader questions of social justice that exceed the frame of “gay identity,” per se?

In a recent issue of the Nation, Lisa Duggan highlighted Equality Utah’s proposal for an Adult Joint Support Declaration, which would allow a legal framework for caretaking—medical decision-making, health insurance benefit designation, and inheritance—among adults who are not necessarily related by sexual or romantic partnerships. Such a proposal separates secular benefits not just from marriage but from sexuality as well, further removing the current entanglement between state benefits and religious debate over sexual practice. As Duggan points out, such a measure could spark unexpected political alliances as well as expand the support for caretaking in our society well beyond the question of marriage or domestic partnership, getting, in her words, “the AARP on board to lobby for medical next of kin, tax and inheritance rights for ‘Golden Girls’ households, or attract libertarians who want to take the state out of the business of ‘recognizing’ sexual or romantic relationships entirely.”

This shift in framework—from gay rights to the basic ground of freedom and equality—would do much not only for gay people and for the Obama administration’s standing with the oft-invoked “gay community;” it could significantly alter how controversial issues are approached in American public life. We might move beyond the identity politics of rights-based movements, even as we preserve the ability to act on identity- and rights-based claims. Who knows, but we might even create the basis for one of the most promising possibilities invoked by the early Obama campaign: not just change we can believe in on given political issues, but the possibility of creating a “new majority” that goes beyond individual issues to larger questions and practices of liberty and justice for all. Achieving this new majority cannot happen if we trade off some people’s sexual freedom for some other people’s religious freedom (or vice versa).

[See David Kyuman Kim's introduction to "These things are old," a conversation about Obama, civic virtues and the common good at The Immanent Frame]

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11 Responses to “Religious and sexual freedoms are not opposed”

  1. avatar Jaimee Molberger says:

    This post by Ms. Jakobsen and Ms. Pellegrini raises some interesting points regarding sexual freedom and religious freedom. I was particularly struck by the discussion on religious marriages verses civil unions. We claim to be a country that observes a separation of church and state, and yet, an issue such as whether to allow gay marriages illuminates the inconsistencies within what we practice and what we preach. They conclude that the “religious problem” created by gay marriage is not the benefits which would need to be awarded to same sex couples, but rather the intrinsic connection that the state would have to any sort of religious marriage. It is indeed an issue that the state is recognizing both religious and civil marriages. However, I am not certain that the solution that is put forth could ever really be enacted.

    Ms. Jakobsen and Ms. Pellegrini suggest that by separating religious marriages from civil unions we will be able to truly maintain a separation of church and state as we have claimed to do throughout much of our nation’s history. However, how can we separate religious and civil unions so that religious marriages do not provide the secular benefits that couples are accustomed to receiving upon their marriage? Is it realistic to think that the change can be made? This adjustment would require that all couples wishing to receive a religious marriage would also need to acquire a civil union. Without taking both steps couples would no longer be recognized either by their god, or by their state. Both of which can be considered problematic. Even if we were able to successfully enact this policy, unfortunately I am not certain that it would be able to solve the problem that it is aiming to eliminate. Although technically this solution would separate civil unions for gay couples from the debates regarding homosexuality and religion, it would not eliminate the strong views that many individuals posses. While some people concerned only with the sanctity of religious marriage might be pleased with the change, others who are opposed to homosexual relationships in general will likely maintain their current stance on this issue. It is important to recognize both of these parties when trying to solve the issue at hand. I believe that people would continue to fight against gay marriages using the arguments of religion even if civil marriage was entirely separated from religious marriage.

  2. avatar Keri Ramsey says:

    The idea of religious freedom and sexual freedom has, for as long as I can remember, been two choices that are far from free. When choosing a religion, there will always be people who do not like what you believe in. There will always be the majority religion that will look down upon you and tell you that you are wrong. When choosing a sexual preference, there will always be people who think you are incorrect for being lesbian, gay or transgendered. However, no matter how often a person is told they are doing the wrong thing, if they truly believe in it, then nothing will ever change how they feel.

    These two ideas of freedom are so confusing alone, when you try to put them together into one category, it is simply unimaginable. For years people have been trying to get gay marriage to become legal but the state will not allow it. In your blog, you explained how New Hampshire allowed gay marriage but not without making another bill to protect religion. The fact that such a bill to ‘protect religion’ even had to come about is absurd. When the state claims that religion and the state are separate, how could they even think about religion when saying gay marriage is OK? Even the fact that gay marriage needs to go through a different legal process then marriage between a man and a women is questionable. The religious folks should just keep to themselves and not have a care in the world as to what someone else is doing to their life and those religious people think the only way to stop them is by the law. The law is broken every day. Just because LGBT’s are not getting married due to what the law is telling them, does not mean that they do not love each other still. Religion is loosing this battle but the battle will forever go on.

    Whether the prejudice against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered will ever get dropped does not matter. If family members cannot stop two people from loving each other, when did people begin believing in the legal system and that it was actually going to stop people now?

  3. avatar Grant Jacoby says:

    I find it particularly interesting to learn that President Barrack Obama has “proclaimed June 2009 Lesbian, Bay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month” because as a young gay man in America, you would think that I would know about Obama’s decision to induct this month as one that celebrates gay pride, but indeed, this is new information to me. I think that the fact that this declaration has gone relatively unnoticed is just the tip of the iceberg of issues that lie in political and religious society for homosexuals in America. Time and time again, change is often promised, but never delivered. For example, during his administration, President Clinton claimed to want to fight for gay rights, but instead, he took a complete step backwards and enacted the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military. Even now as the crusade for same-sex marriage continues, each victory is met with a devastating blow, such as Proposition 8, which restricted California’s marriage laws to only opposite-sex couples.

    Indeed, our country is plagued by heterosexism, the idea that a heterosexual lifestyle is superior to that of a homosexual lifestyle. I think it is important to differentiate this term from homophobia, which in actual definition is an irrational fear of homosexuals. Instead, heterosexism is a sense of heterosexual entitlement. Heterosexists believe that they are privileged because they are straight and therefore do not think that gay people should have the same rights as they do because they see homosexuals as beneath them.

    These heterosexist practices infect our daily lives more that you may think because many people who consider themselves to not be homophobic are still heterosexist by using the words “gay” and “faggot” as synonyms for “stupid” and “weak.” Many authority figures try to preach the abolishment of these words from our vernacular, but unfortunately their attempts are often in vain. Their speeches are often met with merely blank faces and the occasional nod, for many people do not have a grasp on the hurtful and demeaning connotations these words can carry.

  4. avatar Sarah Goldstein says:

    In Dr. Jakobsen and Dr. Pellegrini’s blog there were two points raised which struck me. First was the amount of public grumbling in regard to Obama’s efforts to make headway for gay rights. He is completely in the right for asking the public for more time. As the authors note, “social change happens over time, sometimes over a long time.” And although I myself am not gay, nor involved with the struggle for gay rights, I would have to encourage those who are to be patient with the administration. Just look at the struggle African Americans have endured, hundreds of years of slavery and oppression. They gay community has only just begun its public struggle, and must be patient and diplomatic if they want to achieve sexual freedom.

    The second point which caught me was the author’s call for a total reframing of the gay freedom debate.

    This is not a matter of fine-tuning the President’s ear on gay issues. Instead, we call on him to take up a broad-ranging version of religious freedom as a means of reframing the entire debate over gay rights. Yes, of course Obama should repeal DADT—and suspend it immediately by executive order as is in his power. Of course he should move to repeal DOMA. But is this really the legacy of generations of activism for sexual freedom: gays in the military and marriage equality? Or might sexual freedom implicate broader questions of social justice that exceed the frame of “gay identity,” per se?

    To me, this is a bold move to ask for, but an interesting one. However if they want to call for a broad ranging version of religious freedom in regards to sexual freedoms, who not just take out the religious component all together and make the debate purely secular? If we could eliminate religion within the debate I believe much more progress would be made, and many more freedoms could be extended. And perhaps if this could be accomplished, as the authors say, “it could significantly alter how controversial issues are approached in American public life.” It may never happen, but we must consider the possibility that truly disengaging religion from our political sphere, not just claiming separation of church and state, may benefit not only those searching for gay freedoms, but all of us in the long run.

  5. avatar Nina Quinton says:

    Religious and sexual freedom have not always been present in my mind but lately it has become more controversial and in the news frequently. To me it seems that most people support gay rights. Gays should have the same job opportunities, same government benefits and protection, and same public accommodations. However, when asked whether or not gay marriage is acceptable, the majority of Americans say no. Why is this? Is it because of religion? Traditional values? We are a country based on freedom yet gay marriage is illegal in 45 states. If marriage is based off of love and care, why are people so opposed to gay marriage? People do not have the choice of who they feel attracted to and homosexuality is just as much about love and passion as heterosexuality is. Some religions argue that gay relationships are immoral, but says who? Not the Bible. Christians condemn/castigate homosexuals and say that the Bible is against homosexuality, while this subject was never actually discussed. Some say that marriage is a sacred religious sacrament and therefore gay marriage would be a sacrilege. There is no reason that marriage must be between only one man and one woman. Just because certain religions consider marriage between one man and one woman sacred, doesn’t mean everyone else is forced to believe this. Many religions, such as Buddhism, celebrate gays and promote gay marriage, thus signifying religious freedom. Some argue that same-sex marriage is against God’s will, and even if this is what they believe, the government is not entitled to abide by God’s will, hence the law “separation of Church and State.” We are a country that boasts about our freedom, yet having laws that prohibit marriage among same-sex couples is the showing the opposite. Thank goodness for the lone five states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, Connecticut and Massachusetts for granting the right for gays to marry. If we want to not be a country based off hypocrisy, we must legalize gay rights because it does not represent religious freedom or freedom in itself.

  6. avatar Brogan O'Connor says:

    This article brings up some of America’s greatest problems in regard to society. The issue of homosexuality and religion in this country has remained one which continues to bring along many prejudices and stereotypes. In my eyes, the problems of not being able to do many important things in one’s life because of their sexuality or religion are progressively being addressed by different American politicians. The whole problem that I see here is that of the different kinds of freedom. America was founded on the idea of equality and freedom. That being said shouldn’t all of the people in this country experience freedom in every aspect which they live their lives whether it be religious or sexual? Both of these categories of living a life contribute to who a person really is. I do not think that the legal system and especially a few politicians should have to try and rally up Congress just to allow a certain group of people to live a happy and successful life. I agree that religion and sexuality should not come into play regarding things like your occupation, they should not be a factor within the workplace or in many public areas. This being said America is about being who you are and what you want to be, or at least that’s what so many believe. Not to sound negative about the whole situation, but is it necessary to devote a month out of the year to a community of people that seems as if they just want to be accepted for who they are and respected for the ways which they want to live their lives?

  7. avatar Gabriella Gentile says:

    Frankly it appalls me that gay marriage is legal in only six out of the fifty states in America. In two states, same sex couples can enter into civil unions and in six others same sex couples can register as domestic partners. In a way this can be viewed as greater acceptance and progress towards equality in our nation. Yet we all know the reality; this is only partial acceptance, partial equality and partial tolerance. It is blatant discrimination and in my opinion, a human rights issue. The government of this nation has the ability to choose who is entitled to these rights and who is not, yet documents proclaiming America’s founding principles claim that these rights are unalienable. Gay marriage and religion are absolutely intertwined and entangled in this country. The contradictory ways in which the administration continues to govern the United States never cease to confuse me. We claim that our country and government is secular, yet clearly it is not. The prohibition of gay marriage in the vast majority of our states is a clear example. The idea that marriage is between a man and a woman is a highly Christian sentiment but yet it is a sentiment that the majority of Americans strongly agree with in what we call our “secular” nation. It is stated in the United States Declaration of Independence that all men are born equal and free with certain God-given, unalienable rights, including the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are God-given. If America is not being secular, it is being religiously selective. We claim that freedom is fundamentally American yet homosexuals all over the country are experiencing a breach on the human rights that are their life, their liberty and their happiness. Apparently in America, we decide who God gives these rights to and it is not to the people with which it would create controversy. It simply does not make sense. The American government claims to be secular yet represents Christian ideals that they do not even abide by.

  8. avatar Nicole Smalley says:

    While our society prides itself in the fact that all its citizens are free, I find this to be extremely untrue especially in terms of religion and sexual freedoms. Although we try to see ourselves as a very secular nation, our Christian roots are always showing especially in the debate of same sex marriage. The argument that is consistently repeated against gay marriage is that “marriage is between a man and a woman”, but who exactly said this? The Bible is what says this and it our history’s’ ties with Christianity that aren’t allowing same sex marriage to be legalized. This is also a difficult issue because many marriages are performed in ceremonies that differ depending on religious practices, so it is understandable that religion would have to intercede in the legalities of marriage. The interesting part of this however is the way that religion is interceding in the government’s aspects of treating marriages. Both Ms Jakobsen and Pellegrini bring up an interesting point in stating:

    If there is a “religion problem” posed by gay marriage, it is not that some religious organizations might be “forced” to provide secular benefits to same-sex couples, such as healthcare or equal access to residential housing; it is rather the entanglement of the state with the business of any couple’s religious marriage.

    This makes it very difficult for the government to get involved with marriage without being criticized by religious leaders and followers because marriage is not a political act of bringing people together but politics are what affects how married couples live in America. The contradictions between the strive toward secularism and the way our Christian roots influence the government create issues in the recent push toward sexual freedom and as of now it is uncertain in what way they will be solved.

  9. avatar Alex Kuhns says:

    After reading this article I find myself looking at American society today, our land of the free, with a sideways glance. A country with documents declaring freedom and the pursuit of happiness is now twisted into a locale of restrictions. We are fighting and protesting for laws and bills that will allow us to live free when we already have declarations of liberty. It is a bit absurd that our country needs laws for sexual and religious freedom when we are supposed to be the country that invented the ideal of a “free nation.” Instead, nothing in our country seems to come free and we find ourselves as a fighting nation, fighting against ourselves, against our own society. Americans are founded on the idea of being free to develop their own personas, their own way of life not governed by rules. However, we always seem to find ourselves throughout American history battling against each American’s own free persona. The land of the free is instead a land constricted by ourselves, judging the free choices of others. In trying to continually progress and have the right to everything we build obstacles that cause future chaos. Our country is now fighting to overcome these obstacles in order to give rights to freedom and equality.
    I feel that it is time for our nation to understand the individual’s role in society and that we must allow the individual to be free in today’s society, otherwise the fighting will continue. The religious individual and the individual wanting sexual freedom have been persecuted in our community for hundreds of years. I feel in Obama telling America to be patient, that progress takes time, only quells for a minute the angst many people have when it comes to their individual freedom. According to all sorts of leaders of the government, change comes slowly; it takes time in order to see the radical progression. Americans however have a thirst for change. Those who claimed their country, fighting for their freedom, three centuries ago, have instilled the same vigor in the Americans that live today. The basic grounds that we stand on today that were fought for should still hold true. All Americans should have the equality to live. Lives however though are being changed and harmed every day by the law that pass and do not pass governing our freedom. How can that even make sense, laws for freedom? How can there be rules in liberty?

  10. avatar Taylor Larosa says:

    In Ms. Jakobsen and Ms. Pellegrini’s post “Religious and sexual freedoms are not opposed,” President “Obama’s administrations public stance on such issues as gays in the military, same-sex marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)” is strongly questioned. As mentioned in the post, Obama has expressed wholeheartedly his determination to tackle such topics, yet when examined it seems as though strong hesitation overcomes his so-called determination. This post delves into the questions of sexuality and freedom of religion and asserts that instead of asking for patience and time, Obama needs to find a new, more efficient way to tackle such matters. Yet my question is, is it really that simple?

    In this post, the writers see such gay issues and religion as being entangled and interwoven, which I agree does seem true and is definitely a paradox in a country that tries to separate such freedoms. I do agree with the writers of this post and question how our nation can claim to such freedoms that clearly do not exist, yet I find an issue with how the writers acutely question the way Obama should tackle this paradox in our nation. The writers are saying that on top of such acts as repealing DADT and DOMA, Obama should also “shift in framework—from gay rights to the basic ground of freedom and equality.” This post states that our President needs to look at the bigger pictures of “social justice and gay identity,” which I think would be great; although my question is, how do you tackle such a topic of identity?
    If (and when) Obama does act on these issues and repeals DADT and DOMA, will our gay community still feel free? I do agree with much of this post saying that our nation needs to better deal with claiming to be free, but I don’t think it is as simple as these writers make it seem, because what is freedom and how do we really achieve it? Freedom is defined in the dictionary as “the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraint.” I believe that we claim to be free of many things, but realistically this is impossible. I say this simply because there will always be “external imposed restraint.” I think that our nation is filled with pressures beyond notice, whether it is from society, family or even larger forces such as the government.

    I believe that Obama asking for time and patience is not that absurd. I believe that Obama will act and repeal DADT and DOMA, but asking him to change identity in a heart beat is a hard task. That is like asking America to get rid of prejudice, bias and stereotypes in an instant—things that we can say we are free of but that are nearly impossible to get rid of over a short period of time. I am a total advocate for gay rights, but my only point is, I think that Obama is too and that we should believe in him. I think that Ms. Jakobsen and Ms. Pellegrini bring up wonderful points, yet I believe it is easier said than done to just change in a heart beat gay Americans’ identity—as fantastical as it would be.

  11. avatar Ashton Evans says:

    The Obama Administration’s lack of action to the fight for gay rights is a conversation my friends have with each other quite frequently. I, a straight ally, get especially mad when I remember a little over a year ago action was promised and has now dwindled down to the image of President Obama showing calming hands and asking for patience. He asks the people of the United States “to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists” but this simply acts like a smack in the face to all the people, including myself, who support the fight for gay rights. How can you expect people to be less discriminatory and prejudiced when there are still discriminatory laws out there preventing homosexuals from living their lives like everyone else?

    The idea of “civil union,” thought to be good enough for a while at least, is just another example of the government’s way of avoiding what is being asked of them when it comes to gay rights. The religious freedoms versus sexual freedoms argument brought up in this article says that religious marriage between two people of the same sex is prohibited due to the religion’s restrictions. What is not brought up is that marriage between to people does not always have to be religious; atheists get married all the time. The nation is supposed to be secular but with everyone seeing marriage being strictly a religious ritual, that idea is lost.

    I feel like asking the people of the United States to be less prejudiced towards the LGBTQ community, though a beautiful idea, is unrealistic. What seems to be more attainable is the law being less discriminatory and yet this, while being continuously asked and has been for quite some time, goes unanswered.

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