Recently there was a protest in Denver over California’s recently enacted Proposition 8, which banned marriage between same sex couples. In response to the coverage of the protest in The Denver Post there was, as one might expect, the typical hateful and homophobic rants and name calling. The words used do not bear repeating, and are the equivalent of the use of the “N- word” applied to African Americans.
There was, however, one comment that requires a more considered response.
“Protest all you want, but in this society sometimes you are not going to always have your way, the majority of the people in california [sic] spoke they said no, so why does the minority in that state insiste [sic] on pushing there [sic] beliefs down the throats of the majority.”
Even as a strait person, I can understand how my gay brothers and sisters would reflect the same feelings of Martin Luther King in his Letter From a Birmingham Jail:
“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection….
Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.”
There are, of course, both just and unjust laws. Again to quote Dr. King’s letter
“To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust….[Laws] are unjust because segregation distort the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I-it" relationship for an "I-thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things….
An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.”
Once can and should use the same logic with respect to our gay brothers and sisters. Laws that prevent them from marrying because it degrades the human spirit which is uplifted by marriage. These laws give heterosexuals a false sense of superiority, as witnessed by the hateful responses to the article on the Denver Post’s on line edition. These laws inflict on my gay friends conditions that are not binding on me as a strait man, and are thus differences made legal.
When I was practicing Christianity I firmly held that we are all children of God, no matter what our status in life. In my evolving Buddhism, I hold that all sentient beings have Buddha nature, the inherent ability to become enlightened. These are different ways of expressing the same truth. We all have some divine spark. Any law that says, in essence, I have a divine spark but you do not is unjust on its face. Proposition 8, and any other law that prohibits the divine expression of love between two people in marriage is, therefore, an unjust law.
This is not a question of a minority seeking to impose its views on a majority. It is, instead, a minority rebelling against unjust laws imposed upon them by the majority. These laws must be opposed for the same reason African Americans fought to ride in the front of the bus and eat at the same lunch counter and vote when the "majority" spoke and said no. Because those laws were unjust. Because justice delayed is justice denied. Because when someone can deny the unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness to any one person, they can deny it to everyone. Because we all have a divine nature, and any law that seeks to suppress the expression of the divine is an injustice that must be remedied by people of conscious, no matter their sexual preference.