History and Religion Mandate Gay Rights

Dani Langevin, Lesbian ColumnistBy: Dani Langevin – March, 2015

One of the strongest reasons people use to justify that history be a part of our educational system is that we learn from it. We learn to not repeat the mistakes of our past and ensure that we nurture and continue those practices that have proven to be beneficial for all of mankind. Another lesson is that change is hard and frightening, but necessary as long as it is good, true, and beneficial. Being so, it is only natural that inalienable human rights should and must be extended to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community. It is necessary, good, true and beneficial for all of mankind. History dictates it, religion supports it. Let’s take a look at what history has taught us about embracing groups of people who had and unfortunately, in many circumstances, still are viewed as threatening and subhuman.

Discrimination and the mistreatment of Jews can be traced as far back as the third century B.C.E. and pretty much through every year of every century to date. Efforts to stop anti-Semitic activities are almost as numbered and varied as how the Jewish community has been mistreated over the course of history. Those of us who are sane and accept the different views and beliefs of others know that anti-Semitism is wrong and disgusting. We embrace and applaud the tenacity and deep flowing convictions of our Jewish brothers and sisters to hold onto their traditions both as a faith and as an ethnicity. Their fortitude is nothing less than a God given miracle against all odds because, despite their constant abuses by those who wish to beat them down or even eradicate them, they continue to prove that they will not succumb. Throughout history non-Jewish people and communities have made life-threatening efforts to help eradicate anti-Semitism because doing so is good, true, and beneficial to all of humankind.

How many Christians lost their lives at the hands of the Roman Empire because they were seen as a threat to its very foundation. Which, of course it was. Here we had this man claiming to be the Son of God saying that the Roman kingdom was great and powerful but there is a greater and more powerful kingdom and that is the kingdom of heaven. Not only that, Jesus had the gall to say that the Roman emperor was not a god at all, a belief held be the Romans for centuries. Jesus said that there is only one true god and that is the God in heaven. Jesus was a verbal terrorist to the Romans.

What resulted was the martyrdom of tens of thousands of people who accepted what Jesus was saying. Once again, the world encountered a religious community with unimaginable resilience. Over the course of 300 years Christianity took root and spread until it was finally adopted by the very kingdom that had first rejected it because of its financial and political benefits, not to mention the spiritual benefits for its followers. As a result, Christianity is the number one religion in the world today.

Centuries later, 60 million Africans died and/or were enslaved over 500 years of the European and American slave trading system. We are still seeing the ramifications of this abuse in modern times. People of African American decent are making it clear that the discrimination and abuse they and their ancestors have endured and are still experiencing, need to be recognized and stopped. Although this is true, we continue to see great strides in trying to equalize the playing field between whites and blacks because it is right, true, and beneficial to all of us. African Americans can be found in every vocation, social, religious, and economic group all the way up to the White House. The change to make America more equitable between blacks and whites is painfully slow and ongoing.

The GLBT community has been and is being discriminated against because of whom they love and it is about love, and love only. Those who reduce it to sexual activity are governed by their ignorance and sheer stupidity. It is about being allowed to love another adult human being with mutual respect, similar goals and the desire to make their lives and the lives of those around them better by creating a life together. And yet, so many want to deny us of that. Think about that. A group being oppressed, denied their inalienable rights, persecuted and even killed because they love.

Religious scripture is often brought up when arguing against the gay community. Having taught world religions for a decade I know that all of them, every single religion created since the dawn of time makes love and compassion for others a number one priority. According to the writings of Baha’u’llah, “We are but one country, and mankind its people.” That is one of my favorite quotes. I have it posted to my classroom door. “Love is brotherhood,” is stated in the Qur’an 3:10. Yes, even the “religion of death” (sentiment held by many Valley readers, not me) advocates for love and treating others as your brothers (or sisters). One of the core commandments of Judaism is “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Leviticus 19:18. Christianity was born from many Jewish beliefs. In Romans 13:10, “Love does not harm its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Therefore, the GLBT community is fulfilling the law of God.

History dictates it. Every religion advocates for it. It is undeniable. The GLBT community must be included in and extended the same inalienable rights that all human beings should enjoy. To deny them of this is what is unnatural, not their love for one another.