The Plank In Our Eye
March 14, 2005
By Jason Miller
How often have we heard George Bush reiterate his desire to "spread
freedom and liberty" as the justification for his illegal war in
Iraq? The United States has spent over 1500 precious lives and in
excess of $150 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars allegedly
to further the goal of "spreading freedom and liberty."
Why are we paying such a high price to attempt to achieve this
end in Iraq when we still have so far to go toward this ideal within
our own borders?
In the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the subsequent Amendments,
the United States has the greatest blueprint for a government based
on justice, freedom, equality, and individual liberty in the history
of humanity. In reaction to a tyranny, our founding fathers concocted
a recipe to formulate a secular government predicated on the prevention
of the tyranny of the government over the people. They carefully
crafted a system of checks and balances to prevent one branch of
government from dominating, and a Bill of Rights to protect the
rights of individuals.
Unfortunately, Americans are still struggling to follow that recipe.
We have made substantial progress - examples include the abolition
of an inherently evil institution called slavery, Women's Suffrage,
the integration of public schools, and the elimination of Jim Crow,
However, we still have a long way to go here at home. The obvious
hypocrisy in Bush's message and goal of "spreading freedom and liberty"
is sickening, to say the least.
Estimates vary, but approximately 10% of our population is homosexual,
gay, or lesbian. This represents 29 million people. Ironically,
Jewish people comprise only 2% of our population, yet there are
no government-sponsored attempts to deny them of their civil liberties
(at least not at the time of this writing). Meanwhile, our nation
does not recognize the fundamental civil rights of homosexuals.
Gays can be, and often are, denied many of their Constitutionally-guaranteed
rights simply on the basis of their sexual orientation. Until the
Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence and Garner vs. Texas (in
November of 2003) that a Texas law banning private consensual sex
between same sex-adults was unconstitutional, a significant segment
of our population did not even have the legal right to express themselves
sexually in private. Thankfully, this ruling overturned Bowers
vs. Hardwick, the 1986 Supreme Court ruling that upheld Georgia
Sadly, ignorance and hatred directed toward gays pervade our culture.
In his dissent in Roomer vs. Evans - the Supreme Court decision
which struck down a Colorado referendum that denied homosexuals
the right to be specifically granted protection under municipal
laws - Justice Antonin Scalia (who unfortunately will probably be
our next Chief Justice) wrote:
Since the Constitution of the United States says nothing about
this subject, it is left to be resolved by normal democratic means,
including the democratic adoption of provisions in state constitutions.
This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution
favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution
are selected, announcing that "animosity toward homosexuality
With respect to the Supreme Court's decision striking down anti-sodomy
laws, Scalia stated:
Today's opinion is the product of a court, which is the product
of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the
so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted
by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral
opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.
He went on:
What many don't understand is that those opposed to homosexual
conduct are trying to defend their homes, their schools and their
families from what they consider a destructive way of life.
In contrast to Antonin Scalia's obvious hostility toward gays,
Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, wrote in his majority
opinion in Lawrence and Garner vs. Texas:
In our tradition the state is not omnipresent in the home. And
there are other spheres of our lives and existence, outside the
home, where the state should not be a dominant presence. Freedom
extends beyond spatial bounds. Liberty presumes an autonomy of
self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression and
certain intimate conduct. The instant case involves liberty of
the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions.
The two contrasting opinions of Scalia and Kennedy go a long way
toward representing the two ends of the spectrum in the court of
public opinion in America on homosexuality. I feel thankful that
progressive, open-minded, and humane individuals like Kennedy, and
the other justices who contributed to the majority vote on these
two landmark blows for gay rights in America, were in positions
of power to strike these blows for gay people in America. It is
frightening to think that upon the demise or retirement of Chief
Justice Rehnquist, a person with a narrow-minded, bigoted viewpoint
like Antonin Scalia will probably assume the mantle of leading the
Christians who cite Biblical scripture to support their claim
that homosexuality is a sin or is immoral are quite short-sighted
in their view of their own religion. Christ, who I personally do
not view as the son of God (despite my personal belief in a Higher
Power of my understanding), was probably the ultimate liberal. As
their leader and savior, Christians need to look to his example.
Most certainly, Christ would not have condemned homosexuals, condoned
or promoted hatred of gays, nor denied them their rights as fellow
Despite the fact that their opinions and viewpoints were limited
and shaped by the paradigm of their time in which white men of wealth
held the power, founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson and James
Madison were quite progressive in their views. If they were alive
today, they would not support the exclusion of homosexuals from
full participation in our republic, as equals. Another point to
consider about these two, and many of the other founding fathers,
is that they recognized that the Constitution needed to be a living
document whose implementation and interpretation would be subject
to changes in circumstances over time. They would readily endorse
re-interpretation of the Constitution by the Supreme Court, which
social fundamentalists rant against. Humanity is not static, therefore,
our laws need to be fluid as well.
One of the most twisted arguments from anti-gay rhetoric is that
homosexuality is a choice. While science has yet to find a direct
genetic cause for homosexuality, most behavioral professionals and
therapists will attest to the fact that it is not a choice. I have
several gay friends, and one of my most important mentors was a
lesbian. They would certainly attest that it is not a choice. Suicides
by gay teens show the torment that the culture of gay hatred places
upon homosexuals, and would also strongly suggest that being gay
is not a choice. Who, at a young age, would make a conscious choice
to be a part of a segment of our population who faces discrimination,
hatred, persecution, beatings, and even murder, just for being who
Here in Kansas, I feel embarrassed to say, we are home to Fred
Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church out of Topeka. Their congregation
claims to have held 20,000 anti-gay protests and states that "God's
hatred is one of his Holy attributes." Their website is www.godhatesfags.com.
Fred Phelps, a disbarred attorney, spews his hateful messages through
the Internet, emails, and faxed fliers. He has a second website
at www.godhatesamerica.com in which he "demonstrates" how God has
abandoned America because of the support we have shown for gays.
On April 5, Kansas citizens will go to the polls to vote on a
state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. It is my sincere
hope that we do not join Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Nevada in
adding such an amendment to our constitution. In his most recent
State of the Union address, George Bush stated his support for a
US Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
We are waging a war with real American blood, and real American
dollars, allegedly in the interest of "spreading freedom and liberty."
Before we waste our valuable resources and show the world a face
of ugly hypocrisy by "spreading freedom and liberty" abroad, we
need to get our own house in order. 10% of the people in our nation
are denied their civil liberties and face hatred and discrimination.
Now, we are considering further legal measures to worsen their plight.
The Judicial branch of the government has been the "Lone Ranger"
in enforcing the rights of gays. It is time for the Executive and
Legislative branches to step up to the plate and put laws on the
books to protect the rights of gays.
Let's focus on "spreading freedom and liberty" right here in the
US. Laws cannot force people to change their thinking or beliefs,
but they can go a long way toward influencing their behavior. If
we had better laws supporting gays on the books, Matthew Shepard
might be alive today.