Do Something Obama!

Posted on 15. Nov, 2009 by in Uncategorized

“You kidding me? You can’t be serious man. You can NOT BE SERIOUS!”  –John McEnroe, Wimbledon, 1981 and Collin Orcutt’s inner monologue, New York City, 2008

This past Wednesday, the Catholic Archdiosese of Washington made a threat to the District: change the same-sex marriage bill or we’ll stop running the social service programs (that you fund). It’s a threat that “could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.”

As Allison Kilkenny wrote for the Huffington Post, in its simplest terms, church officials are saying, “If gay folk can marry, the Catholic church refuses to feed the homeless.”

This seems a little extreme coming form a group whose religious doctrine preaches compassion (I grew up Catholic Christian for those keeping score at home). At the same time, it’s also unfair to force a religious group to do something (perform gay marriage) against their religious beliefs. Thing is, that’s not what the bill is asking them do. From the Washington Post:

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

The church is freaking out because they’re being asked not to discriminate against gay marriage. Not accept it, just not discriminate against it.

This is where I have a problem, and it’s what turned me off from religion around the age of fourteen. Live your life however the hell you want to. Really, believe what you want, practice the faith you want, watch the shows you want, eat the food you want, celebrate the holidays you want. Everyone has the right to live in a way they see fit (within reason of course, I’m not advocating killing or anything here).

But where the hell do you get off telling others how to live? If you don’t believe in gay marriage, great. I disagree with you, but hey, that’s your thing and I’ll respect it. When you start believing your way of living is the only correct way and feel the need to impart that way on others, then we have a problem. It’s kind of like when Keith Bardwell, the justice of peace for the Tangipahoa Parish in Louisiana, refused to marry an interracial couple last month because he didn’t “believe in mixing the races that way.” Your beliefs don’t matter in this case, Bardwell. It’s not your place to preach.

Church officials in Washington worry they might have to provide benefits for same-sex married couples if this bill passes. Again, this comes back to living your beliefs vs. imparting them. You can employ people that have different beliefs than you without believing them yourself. If not, well, that sounds an awful lot like segregation to me.

In addition to the ideological side of this, there’s also the fact that the church is running these charities with public dollars–more than $8.2 million in city contracts over the last three years. There’s no way that every person being taxed agrees with the church taking their contributed dollars and making discriminatory decisions with them.

This is happening in President Obama’s current back yard. It’s another sign that the issue of same-sex marriage, LGBT rights in general, demands to be dealt with. Obama could go a long way in aiding this process by tackling the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” issue first, then branching out to other LGBT rights from there. The sooner the better.

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