For the first time ever, I've got a guest-post on the bloggy! My pal Dr. Matty McMatterson (aka Dr. Matthew Callahan) posted this thought-provoking piece today on Facebook, and I wanted to share it with you. It's not often that the subject of religion rears its head (like Putin!) here, but hey--we're open-minded on the impeachment bloggy.
My thoughts on prop 8, on religion, and Buddhism
I have no plans to marry in this lifetime. My heart tells me that I'm here to do other things. Gay marriage is not my fight. I am more concerned with stopping heterosexual men from killing gay men and then setting their bodies on fire.
Still though. Proposition 8 troubles me. It troubles me because it is rooted in a religious argument. Specifically a Christian argument.
Marriage is indeed a Christian sacrament. A beautiful one. And it is a sacrament that is made between a man and a woman. I went to Catholic school, so I'm crystal clear on that.
But this sacrament does not only happen in the church. If it did, that would be the end of the story. But marriage is also a legal bond that carries economic and social privileges.
I am no longer Catholic. Or a Christian. And as much as some Christians may not like to acknowledge this, the United States is not a uniformly Christian nation. We have separation of church and state. This means that are laws, our government, our policies cannot, must not be solely rooted in a Christian paradigm.
As a Buddhist, the bible is not my guidebook. The Dharma is. And the Dharma has nothing to say about marriage. It is considered a secular act and a matter of personal choice.
So then. what if, as a Buddhist, I did decide to marry? As a gay man, I would not be able to. And as an American, I would be denied the social and economic privileges that a legal marriage procures.
Proposition 8 is not about legalizing or not legalizing gay marriage. It is about legalizing Christianity. It is about taking a Judeo-Christian text and essentially translating its passages into federal law. This not only makes gay men and lesbian women second class citizens, it makes anyone who does not subscribe to Christianity second class citizens as well. This is what many Christians do not seem to understand, with their one god and their one truth.
My prayer is that proposition 8 is repealed. I also pray that under new leadership, all Americans-- Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Pagans, agnostics and atheists can work together, honor our differences, respect each other and create an America that is governed by a shared moral code, one rooted in wisdom, compassion and humanity -informed by many perspectives, but never dominated by one.
If I had my druthers, all legal marriages would be civil unions. And heterosexuals who also wish to celebrate the sacrament of marriage could do so in the sanctity of their churches. But this is not possible at this point in history. So we need to work together with what we have.
As a Buddhist, there is one thing I know for sure. Anger leads to suffering. And I see tremendous rage on both sides of proposition 8. This will do no good. Activism does not need to be fueled by rage in order to be effective, and from what I remember of Jesus' teachings, he would not be very pleased with this anger either!