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Gay IS the New Black

What I say is true. The sooner politicians and conservatives, in general, realize this, the better.

I’ve been told that blacks like me should be offended by this development. True enough, blacks don’t DO anything to qualify as black. It is an “accident of birth”. The nature/nurture mix of homosexuality is not settled science. So there is some logical truth to saying that the civil rights of black and gay are a false equivalency.

That said, so what?  Like blacks, gays don’t hurt anyone by being gay. Defenders of the original Indiana RFRA law present us with their own false equivalency. On Face the Nation former Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum asked should a gay printer be forced to publish flyers from the Westboro Baptist Church that declare “God hates fags”?

Here’s the problem with Rick’s logic. The Westboro Baptist Church is expressing hatred toward gays. A gay wedding does not express hatred for Christianity. In fact a good number of gays are as God fearing and God loving as their straight counterparts. So, the REAL truth is “Christians of conscience” CHOOSE to be offended by gay marriage. Being a baker, florist, photographer or caterer doesn’t mean YOU have to copulate with someone of your own gender.

What further bothers me about the debate is this notion of religious conscience and freedom of religion. Do you REALLY think there aren’t atheists who find homosexuality repulsive and disgusting? Do they get to refuse services related to a gay wedding? I suspect not. So let’s get this straight. If I find homosexuality an “abomination” I can only act on my “conscience” if I attend church on Sunday’s? Is that it? Only the religious have a conscience?

99% of commerce arrangements work out naturally. Most folks regardless of orientation don’t want to do business with folks who don’t like them. In the rare case where a consumer insists on doing business with a particular merchant, that merchant needs to realize times have changed and you don’t get to refuse service based on who the customer chooses to love.

WITH THAT SAID…

I find it ridiculous that an angry vindictive gay consumer can bring a small company to its knees over this. Penalties should be capped, perhaps with a small fine. If a gay wedding cake upsets you that much, cough up a $100.00 fine and put your money where your “conscience” is.

Second, there is a difference between a “gay wedding” cake and a “gay” wedding cake. A merchant should be able to refuse to put two copulating figurines on a wedding cake. One would hope the baker would have the same reaction to two straight figurines copulating on a wedding cake. A blanket refusal to serve a group of people is different from refusing to provide services that current mores dictate are indeed offensive.

That is really the crux of the debate. Gays embracing traditional marriage has largely gained acceptance in this country and our laws should reflect that. Our laws evolve to reflect societal values. If Adam and Steve ask for a tasteful cake for their wedding just like Adam and Eve do, bake the damn cake and get over yourself. Or pay a fine. But you don’t get to say no because your “conscience” aligns with some religion.

What do you think? The bar is open.

Life in the House of Mirrors

Do you look around and think life is starting to look like the distorted images reflected in the amusement park House of Mirrors? If so, you’re not alone. Virtually none of these observations are original — hell, lots of people and pundits are talking about them — but I wanted to get them documented for the record.

Ted Cruz in Need of Remedial Reading

During his 21 hour filibuster on the floor of the Senate, Ted Cruz of Texas read “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. I think I read somewhere that he was really reading it to his kids who he thought were watching him on C-SPAN, as a bed time story. The great irony is that in the middle of a filibuster about rejecting Obamacare before it has even taken effect, he read a story about a creature who refuses to try green eggs and ham but in the end DOES TRY THEM AND LIKES THEM. Could the moral really be that Obama is “Sam I am” and Obamacare is Green Eggs and Ham?

Russia and America Allies (Sort of)

Regardless of how much you might distrust Vladimir Putin’s motives, the bottom line is that both Russia and the United States are getting what they want by Putin poking his nose into the Syria chemical weapons thing. Now, if Putin would just deport Edward Snowden, things might really be cozy.

Detente with Iran

Regardless of how much you might distrust Hassan Rouhani, the new President of Iran, the optimist in me says it is good that he is at least talking a good game. After years of Ahmadinejad talking like a madman, Rouhani is a bit of fresh air. Quite frankly, Netenyahu’s immediate rejection of him, calling him  a wolf in sheep’s clothing, only further enforces my suspicion that Bebe is not the least bit interested in peace. Wouldn’t it take the wind right out of Benjamin’s sails if Iran finally decided that a vibrant economy was more important to it than nukes? One can only hope.

Is the Pope Catholic?

In recent weeks Pope Francis has said that the church over-obsesses about abortion and homosexuality. He has suggested that God loves homosexuals much as He loves others. He has even gone so far as to suggest that atheists who “follow their conscience” will be in God’s good graces. All this is not quite enough to make me convert but it sure makes it harder for me to be critical. This Pope serves the purpose that I believe religion should serve in every day life — as consolation to the downtrodden and spiritual nourishment to those faltering. 34 years ago my college roommate asked me “do you love?” I replied “yes”. He shot back at me “then you believe in God.” What a beautiful notion of faith — that it is overwhelmed by love of self and others. This Pope seems to be on that trip, and my hat is off to him.

Why Don’t We Care About Each Other Anymore?

A few weeks ago a woman called me on my job very upset that her dog was locked in her car. Assuming that some public agency could get help to her faster than I could, I put her on hold and called the police, the fire department and even animal control. NO ONE WOULD HELP. That’s right, not a single public agency representative gave a flying fig that this woman’s dog might die in her car from the heat. The good news is that while I searched in vain for help, she was able to get help on her own. As an aside, she assumed the worst about me and reported me as negligent despite the fact I had done everything I could to help her. The public agencies thought she was worthless and she in turn thought I was worthless.

A couple of weeks ago, a man walked into the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and shot the place up. The top two questions that the media focused on were “how did someone with his psychological profile get security clearance to work at the Navy Yard?” and “how did someone with his profile get a gun?” While both were reasonable questions, the most important question was asked almost as an afterthought. This man told authorities he heard voices in his head. He did not receive help. Were folks just too busy? This man essentially asked for help because he knew that he was a danger to himself or others. Why didn’t anyone care enough about him to get him the help he needed? That was the fundamental question that should have been asked. Why didn’t someone intervene in this man’s life to help him?

On the flip side was the story of Antoinette Tuff, a school book-keeper who calmed down a mentally ill man who had entered her school with an AK-47. In her short encounter with the man, caught on a 911 tape, she probably showed him more respect than he had received from anyone in a long time. When he agreed to give himself up she said, “I want you to know I love you and I’m proud of you, It’s a good thing you’re just giving up. Don’t worry about it.  We all go through something in life.”

This true hero met danger head on with compassion. In that moment, she convinced that man that someone cared about him. That made a difference and I believe it makes a difference in everyone’s life. I have had the good fortune of always having someone in my corner, whether it was my parents, or a teacher, or my wife and precious daughter. I’ve always known that at least someone cared about me.

There is so much anger in this country right now. Why don’t we take a page from Miss Tuff? She is right. We all go through something in life. Why don’t we help each other get through it?

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Religion as Salad Bar (Part 3)

I’ve written on this topic before (here and here) but every now and then I’m struck anew by the concept of religion as salad bar. Folks are usually born into a religion. They tend to practice the religion of their parents. There comes a time in every adult’s life that he chooses his religion. Once that choice is made, many if not most people treat their religion like a salad bar, adhering to the beliefs that are convenient for them and discarding the rest.

The selection of Pope Francis I has triggered renewed public debate about the beliefs of the Catholic church. Once again, I can only chuckle at the sturm und drang. On MSNBC a couple of weeks ago we witnessed Jacqueline Nolley Echegaray, a member of the group Catholics for Choice. I don’t even need to hear a word she has to say before starting to laugh. “Catholics for Choice”? Might as well be “Negroes for Lynching” or “Dentists for  Tooth Decay”. What utter nonsense. One of the fundamental precepts of the Catholic church is reverence for human life up to and including non-interference with the process of procreation (i.e. no birth control). Asking the Catholic church to change its view on procreation is like asking a tiger to shed his stripes.

In her TV appearance, Ms. Echegaray famously declared that the Catholic church is not the hierarchy, it is the “people”. I think she is confusing the Catholic church with a democratic republic. I know I’m no expert on organized religion but I’m pretty sure the edicts of the Catholic church are not up for popular vote. Ms. Echegaray goes one step beyond treating religion like a salad bar. She’s demanding that the restaurant owner change the menu for everyone just to suit her preferences.

I offer Ms. Echegaray some free advice. It’s the same advice I gave Patrick Kennedy in an earlier post. If you don’t like the “rules” of the Catholic church, get out and find a religion that better matches your belief system.

Respectfully,
Rutherford