Those who know me here, know that I am primarily a “process” guy – I work for campaigns, have run for office myself, and tend to look at issues from a political perspective.
This isn’t true when it comes to equal rights for all. Here, morality must take precedence over expediency.
That is why I, like so many here, am upset with some of the testimony given against the Marriage Equality bill that our Legislature will vote on today and Thursday.
While many good people of faith – rabbis and reverends, clergy and laity – know that God does not discriminate, an unfortunate group of bigots cling to the Bible to justify denying equal rights to fellow human beings.
To be clear, I don’t believe religion ought to play a role in whether our government grants equal rights to all under the law. The separation of Church and State, and the exemptions the bill has made, ought remove whatever religious objection a legislator might make in voting “No”.
I nevertheless thought it worthwhile to look at the Bible, to see what G-d (I believe he/she exists) has to say about those small-minded members of the human race who claim a higher power is on their side.
Imagine my surprise: the G-d that bigots cling to in advocating inhumane distinctions…is the same G-d who tells us that love between good and decent people is not confined to the straight!
No shock for us, but perhaps a few legislators might want to take a 2nd look at the Old Testament:
First, the love that existed between one of G-d’s greatest servants – King David – and Jonathan, son of his predecessor King Saul:
And the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul…
…Then Jonathan said to David, Whatever your soul desires, I will do for you. And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul…
I also found the story of Ruth, one of the most moral characters in the Old Testament, and her companion Naomi:
…But Ruth said: Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge.
Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may God do to me, and worse, for death alone shall part us.
When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped trying to dissuade her. So the two of them journeyed together until they arrived in Bethlehem…
David and Jonathan loved each other for the values they shared, and the mutual attraction that binds human beings together for life. His great-grandmothers, Ruth and Naomi (Naomi adopted Ruth’s child), shared hardships and long journeys without complaint, because they loved each other.
If these examples aren’t what a couple should stand for, I don’t know what should be.
As a Jew, I strongly believe in Tikkum Olam – “improving the world”, to paraphrase the Hebrew. For me, this includes improving the quality of life of those around me – it’s why I’m a Progressive and a Democrat. I am on record going back to 2004 in supporting Marriage Equality – I argued for it at a high school government convention in Washington, D.C.
I know that many of that liberal-leaning group who voted me down in favor of civil unions would support the cause today. They, like so many, follow the moral arc of the universe towards justice, as Dr. King spoke of so movingly 50 years ago.
Chris Christie has ordered his Republicans legislators to vote “No” in giving equal rights to all New Jerseyans, regardless of who they love. He did so not for religious reasons (I hope), but out of the moral cowardice that comes with balancing his job with his Presidential ambition. He and the Republicans that will follow his commandment are on the wrong side of history, to steal a line from the current President.
If New Jerseyans can reject the rights of women to vote 5 years before the 19th Amendment, they can (G-d forbid) reject the rights of their fellow citizens to be on equal standing before the law.
That Governor Christie believes this politically feasible option to be the correct one should outrage every citizen. Human rights trump voting rights, plain and simple.
Abraham Lincoln put it best during the Civil War:
“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.”
Let us hope and pray (those of us who pray, that is) that a veto-proof majority of our Legislature will seek to be on God’s side – today, Thursday and in every vote that touches equal rights to come.