Monday, November 30, 2009

Words Escape Me

I have heard a small bit about this proposed Ugandan legislation to ban homosexuality, but seeing the text leaves me struggling for the right words to describe the hatred, ignorance, and violence inscribed in the legislation.
Asked recently for his view on the proposed law, Rick Warren demurred, saying it was not his role to get involved in the politics of other nations.
The only problem with that perspective is that the politics of other nations have effects beyond the borders of other nations. Institutionalized violence against anyone based on group identity -- race, gender, sexuality, etc. -- gives sanction to such violence beyond the reach of the given institution or jurisdiction. As Dr. King often said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
The current issue of the journal American Psychologist includes an article on the way religious beliefs have been used in the mix of arguments about contentious social and political issues. The authors write
People who are members of sexual
minority groups are still legitimate targets of random
violence, domestic terrorism, and unequal treatment/protections
under the law. Discrimination against sexual minority
group members is not only encouraged and tolerated, it is
legally required in some contexts. They are discriminated
against in many jurisdictions in the same ways that states
practicing racial segregation, criminalizing interracial marriages,
and carrying out other infringements and denials of
civil liberties and constitutional rights were given license
to do until the Federal government, in the context of social
movements and advocacy, determined that such practices
violated the constitutional rights of free citizens.
Legitimized inequality gives license to harm.

Legitimized inequality gives license to harm. That is what is at stake in all this: the lives of men and women who are at risk of violence and death because they are gay or lesbian. That is what Uganda wants. No religious argument justifies such violence. Is it too much to ask a prominent pastor in America to speak against it?

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