Homophobic Persons Need Not Read

Because I am lazy, and also because I am proud of this essay, I thought I would post my final writing assignment for Writing 101, minus some of the boring MLA stuff. Hopefully, some more original content will be published soon, but for now enjoy me lecturing and scolding grown-ups.

P.S. I had to take some liberties with the formatting as well so the paper looked a bit different when it was presented to the Prof. 

An Open Letter to James Kellard and Peter Sprigg

Dear Mr Kellard and Mr. Sprigg:

In 2012, you both penned articles on the topic of same-sex marriage, taking opposite sides of the discussion. Within the past decade, these discussions regarding same-sex marriage have reached a fever-pitch. As of 2015, 37 states allow same-sex marriages, with 13 states still banning the practice. With 2/3 of the states already accepting same-sex matrimony, surely we can find some common ground on this topic and resolve this civil-rights issue once and for all. However, it’s going to require us to play nice and put our personal feelings aside.

Taking a look at our U.S. Constitution, particularly Section 1, the law of the land reveals:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizen of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. 

What does this mean, exactly? If we are to take the Constitution at face value, it can be argued that the framework is already in place to allow same-sex marriage. If a gay person is born or naturalized in the United States, then there can be no law that would infringe upon their rights and liberties as a citizen. Would marriage not be considered a right? James Kellard writes in his piece that “Homosexuals and lesbians are tax-paying, law-abiding citizens and deserve the same rights and legal protections as every other citizen of the United States. This point would seem to line up with what our Constitution says, but yet we still seem to be at an impasse when it comes to acceptance. One of the major roadblocks is religion. Homosexuality (to use a somewhat outdated term) is considered a sin in most religions and therefore finding acceptance in those areas is hard to come by. It is viewed as an assault on “religious liberty.” What does that mean, exactly? When most people think of religion, going to church is usually front and center, but there’s much more to it according to Peter Sprigg. He states that: “religious liberty means much more than liturgical rituals. It applies not only to formal houses of worship, but to para-church ministries, religious educational and social service organizations, and individual believers trying to live their lives in accordance with their faith not only at church, but at home, in their neighborhoods, and in the workplace.”

Mr. Sprigg, what you are conveying here seems to be some misguided perception as to what gays actually want to accomplish, and you are looking at marriage as only a religious institution, which it is not. Kellard counters that notion by saying: “Marriage may be a religious issue for many, but the fact is we also have civil marriage, which has nothing to do with religion.” He furthers his point by adding that we have “absolutely no right to deny it in city hall.” Putting your emotions aside, surely on a purely logical basis, this makes sense. If they are not asking for your church to accept them, you have no right to refused based on your religious beliefs. You can think it’s wrong, you can call it a sin, but we must not stand in the way of civil rights. Marriage, as I said earlier, is a civil right!

There was a time in this country where people of color were not free; it took decades upon decades, in truth over a century until they were given the same rights as their fellow man. 1920 saw women finally given the opportunity to vote. One could argue that our country is a bit slow when it comes to progress; we do not seem to accept change so readily, and same-sex marriage is now knocking on the door and asking for a seat at the table.

Sprigg opines that “Schools would teach that homosexual relationships are identical to heterosexual ones.” This is a fallacy because nobody can deny that two people in a same-sex marriage cannot reproduce on their own, it’s a biological impossibility. However, after that there really is no difference. Heterosexuals do not have a monopoly on monogamy and love. The real problem here is that there seems to be some fear that children will be converted, that being gay is merely a matter of choice. I don’t feel like I need to delve into all the scientific data that refutes that because it’s out there. However, if you are that concerned over your child being easily influenced by outside behaviors, Kellard suggests that: “If the goal of raising a child is to completely shelter them from anything that may contradict your own personal beliefs, would it not be better to homeschool them?” School is not the only place where a child can hear about so-called alternative lifestyles. Television, movies, and music, to name a few mediums have plenty of gay people in them already, so be prepared to shield your child from pretty much everything! There is no evidence at the moment to back up the claim of a changing curriculum because there is no reason for it. If the topic of homosexuality were to be brought up in school it would be discussed in the same way any other topic is discussed. There is no need to panic that one way would be favored over another.

Mr. Kellard, you also believe that by allowing same-sex marriage we would be opening up a precedent to allow different sorts of alternative lifestyles to marry, as well, such as polygamy and, confusingly, pedophilia. You state:

“Why should other relationships that provide love, companionship, and a lifelong commitment not also be recognized as “marriages”—including relationships between adults and children, or between blood relatives, or between three or more adults? And if it violates the equal protection of the laws to deny homosexuals their first choice of marital partner, why would it not do the same to deny pedophiles, polygamists, or the incestuous the right to marry the person (or persons) of their choice?”

This seems to be a common argument among the anti-gay marriage crowd, and it does smack a bit of paranoia. Firstly, to compare homosexuality to pedophilia is one of the most ridiculous statements and frankly, you lose credibility with that argument. Pedophilia is a horrible sexual offense committed against minors, while homosexuality is consensual sex between adults who happen to be of the same sex. There is a big difference there, not to mention that molestation of a child, a by-product of pedophilia carries with it a lengthy prison term and is considered one of the worst felonies a human could commit. Polygamy, on the other hand, has never been legal in the United States and there is no reason to believe that a man being able to marry more than one woman at one time would ever be made into a law. It’s hard to imagine that even from a civil marriage standpoint, let alone a religious one. Could you imagine the health premiums!

Surely what we all can agree on is that no human being should be denied their civil rights. As I have stated earlier, marriage is indeed a civil right. We as a nation need to sit at the table and work out our problems like adults, and stop excluding people who don’t necessarily align with our beliefs. Mr. Sprigg and Mr. Kellard: although your views appear to be on completely opposite sides of the spectrum, I firmly believe that neither one of you wants to deny the other person a happy and fulfilling life. It’s important that we do not let our emotions cloud our reason, and that we never stand in the way of progress. It wasn’t that long ago that we were having this same conversation except the discussion was of interracial marriages. Can you imagine now that we ever had reservations regarding that issue? Let us not stain the character of this nation more with another social injustice. Please.

Damn Hoover

Why aren’t we doing more to help the poor?

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services lists a family of three taking home an annual income of $19,790 to be at “the poverty line.” That is not nearly enough to support a family of three. Sadly, whether it be from a lack of education, poor job market, a spouse being incarcerated, many families are scraping by, living from paycheck to paycheck. I don’t think poverty can truly be appreciated until you’ve lived it. If you pay attention to the world around you, you might start to notice that the decks are stacked high against impoverished families to succeed. Government assistance does not make you wealthy, but I’ve read many online comments from regular citizens that state the contrary. According to a NCBI study done in 2006, it showed that poorer neighborhoods had four times as many liquor stores as wealthier neighborhoods, as well as fewer fresh fruits and vegetables stands, bakeries, and natural food stores. You need only take a drive around the poorer sections of your nearest city to notice all the Pawn shops and “Fast-Cash” places. These stores are predatory in nature, and do nothing but prey on the poor. The school districts that need money the most, get it the least, while the wealthier suburbs reap in the tax dollars, affording better materials, better teachers, and better equipment. The system is rigged for most, and poverty becomes generational for some, instead of an unfortunate isolated incident.

Society judges poverty harshly, as if everyone had a choice in the matter. We are fortunate many times by circumstance. We were given the opportunities we had based on the luck of the zip code. This is a systemic failure on our society, and it’s time we stop demonizing the poor.