Friday, November 14, 2008

Fighting for Equal Rights -- God's Plan

The nation has come a long way by electing its first African-American president. As a member of a minority race, I am elated. But the road to equal rights for everyone is still a monumental challenge. On the same day that Barak Obama was elected 44th President of the United States of America, California passed a proposition to amend the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage.

Proponents of Proposition 8 claim that the California State Supreme Court ruled against the will of the people through a landmark decision granting gay and lesbian couples to marry in California with equal rights and privileges as couples married in traditional weddings. Proponents claim that same-sex marriages would destroy the “institution of marriage,” but never once provided any proof nor demonstrated how same-sex marriages are harmful to this institution.

Realistically, marriages occur quite frequently through civil weddings at city hall, in the courts before a magistrate or a judge. The granting authority for issuing marriage licenses lies within the local government (i.e. the county clerk) – not the church – whether it be a civil or a religious ceremony. So where do moral values have a right to trump the authority of government? What is more important? Moral values based on collective individual beliefs, or civil/equal rights belonging to a group or to many people?

Yes, our founding fathers established this nation based on Christian values. But, they had the moral sense to recognize the existence of other religions, creeds, and beliefs, and established freedoms of religion and worship. Furthermore, they adapted the practice and policy of separation of church and state. Christianity, therefore, is not the “official” religion of this country. Nor, for that matter, is there an “official” religion of any kind in this nation. Look around – even in your Yellow Pages – and see how many different kinds of churches exist in your neighborhood. However, this nation is founded on the principle that “all men are created equal.” I think in today's world, we should to say that "all humans are created equal."

People say that “civil unions” are the same as being married. Not so! Civil unions are not equally recognized – by insurance companies and medical institutions, for example. Same-sex couples do not receive the same benefits as traditional couples. In ancient times, marriages were an arrangement of man and woman between two families. Rarely was religion involved in the process. It was, a mutual agreement. In fact, polygamy was a common practice -- one man, many wives. This also held true in some parts of old America. Ironically, it was descendants of these same people who supported Proposition 8 with millions of dollars. These people didn't even live in the state of California! Yet, they elected to impose their values on the people of this state.

Moral values are purely an individual belief. Your “moral values” may not necessarily agree with mine or with others who may have different moral beliefs based on different religious backgrounds. Therefore, people should not impose their moral values on others – especially when it impedes on their civil and/or equal rights. Morality cannot and should not be governed nor dictated by one group of people against another.

There are already enough societal inequalities existing in this nation that we still must contend with. Such as inequitable job opportunities; pay for both men and women; social class differences; educational differences and opportunities, etc. We still have a long way to go on this road to equality.

The placement of Proposition 8 was immoral and unconstitutional. It discriminates against a certain group of people and violates their civil rights as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Civil Rights Act. Besides, the proposition was passed by a slim majority – separated by only a few percentage points. Therefore, the proponents cannot claim that the measure passed overwhelmingly and is the “will of the people.”

Kami Jin (Paper People) is in essence a defense of equal rights. Jesus said, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” I believe this to be inclusive of gays and lesbians. God and Jesus have taught us to forgive. Rather than tear and break each other down, we should build each other up – edify one another.

If moral values were established in the Bible, then we have to remember that the Bible was heavily edited by men in King Constantine’s court. Who knows what important things were changed and left out? And, since then, “moral values” have been constantly changed and modified to meet “man’s own needs,” in many cases, to meet the needs of certain civilizations, countries, and even states. This is why you will find same-sex marriages perfectly acceptable in one state, and totally unacceptable in another state. Gays are accepted in some countries with open arms, killed in other countries.

If it came down to deciding between “moral values” and “equal rights,” then I would have to favor on the side of equality. Moral values are mine and/or yours. We may agree on them, we may not agree on them. Equal rights belong to humanity. We must work for the equality of all mankind around the world, regardless of race, gender, color, age, social status, and sexual orientation. We all have a measure of God in us – this includes gays and lesbians. Love them like your sisters and brothers. This is God's Plan

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