|Maine - A journey through the valley of the shadow of death|
Portland, Maine. 04 Nov 2009. The voters in Maine voted 53 to 47% to rescind the Legislature Approval of the same sex marriage. The Catholic church under Bishop Richard Malone was a major force against gay marriages using the hundreds of churches as a platform against gays. He succeeded in partnership with “Stand for Marriage Maine”, who like the slogan put fear into the hearts and minds of people that their straight marriages would somehow be affected because 5% of the population are allowed the opportunity for marriage. Perhaps, the Catholics are finding a scapegoat for the sexual abuses against minors within the walls of the church hidden for decades under secrecy, and considered far more acceptable than gays. Fear and scare tactics often using children portrayed a desperate anti-gay movement, who even though Christians, had forsaken their religious morality in their desperate attempts to ban gay marriage. Deception and fear won out, and the basic rights of gays sacrificed on the altar of the religious Christian right and Catholic Papal mandates.
We may feel cheated that the Catholics and Christian Right are allowed to lie, cheat and steal away the basic rights of the gay community, but truth will prevail even though it may take much longer. We should not follow the tactics of fear and deception by our opponents because ultimately we will lose our dignity and credibility. What they sow today may return to them in the same manner. In the future, we may even see a “Protect the Institution of Religion” movement whilst appearing to protect Christianity will limit evangelism, and take away the special tax free rights of the Christian Churches. They will argue in the same tortured logic that the Christian Fundamentalist have used thus far against gays – “to protect religion”. This is already happening in the UN, where there is a non binding resolution for the “anti-blasphemy laws“ which hides the real intention to limit Christian Evangelism in Islamic Countries. What we sow, we will reap, either for good or for evil.
The rejection by the voters in Maine was very painful and hurting for many gay couples, who have stayed together for years now waiting to affirm their relationship through marriage and enjoy the rights, responsibility and privileges that go with it. Their hurt was also felt by the gay community across the world who had looked to the States to usher in “A time for Change” as promised by Obama. But politics prevailed, and Obama was seemingly quiet without an opinion of the vote, despite all that the gay community had done to support him. His silence doomed the gay community, and brings to home the point that not many will support the gay community – be-it Republican or Democrats, they would have to fight for themselves.
It may not be right time for change yet, but after defeats in 31 states, the target gets closer after each battle. Only a swing of 3% is required to change the equation, and as stated so succinctly by Jesse Connolly, campaign manager for No on 1/Protect Maine Equality "We're not short-timers. We're here for the long haul and whether it's just all night and into the morning, or it's next week or next month or next year. We will be here. We'll be here fighting. We'll be working. We will regroup." How long will the Christian Right be able to maintain their position when it is without foundation? Soon, they will surely grow weary but for gays they will march on with greater fervency for it had become and has always been very personal.
This may be the opportune time to reflect and look back at past successes. We may see it as a bitter defeat, but this was not only about gay marriage, but the building of a tribe, a nation. Through the journey and process of fighting for their basic rights and dignity for the past 30 years, the GLBT has become a nation, a proud nation with the rainbow flag flying high. It is important in times of disappointment to look back at how far the GLBT advocacy had come and had achieved. Leaders such as the Rev Troy Perry of MCC have spent the last 40 years championing the rights of gay people as a Christian duty and calling. There are over 300 MCC churches worldwide with the message of the Love of Christ to the gay tribe. God is for us, for our cause is just. It was not too long ago in 2003 (Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), that Homosexuality was finally decriminalized in America. How far have we come in the past 6 years! when in countries such as Singapore, one can be jail for being gay.
How long Lord we often cry in the midst of deep sadness and injustice? How long Lord will those who peddle fear and lies and hurt continue to escape justice? When will you hear us Lord? We are the smallest and the weakest minority, used by all the political parties for their own agenda. Even the Christian Extremist used gays as a major cause for fund raising to build their own empire. We have been treated with great violence and evil, being killed and put to jail. For example, Hitler, a good Catholic killed 150,000 gays and he thought he was doing God a favor. There was no justice in this vote against gay marriage and a perverse judgment perpetuating hate and discrimination. The religious right has plundered so much from the gay community and did so in the name of Jesus Christ. It is the credibility of the witness of Christ today that will be under judgment and not only about gay marriage.
The Gay Christian Community will continue their journey to proclaim that true Christianity is about the love of God and not about raising up the sword against the weak and defenseless. It is a journey to separate ourselves, a step of faith to depart from the mainstream churches who had for so long abused the gay community. We have to come out of the churches that we are in, to come together, to be a queer people of Christian faith, united to proclaim God’s inclusive love in Christ Jesus and no more being hidden in the religious closet and acting straight. We may lose our friends, family, lives and jobs as a result, and even be persecuted, for surely following Christ is seldom without sacrifice. It is the love of God following the footstep of Christ that bids’ us to move forward, to come out of the closet, to sooth the bitter pain and hurts of the gay community, to be Christ to a lost, broken and hurting world. What more can we fear or loose, for the gay community in Singapore have little rights in the first place.
Tonight, may the peace of God and the love of Christ, fills the heart of those who has been rejected, hurt, and denied justice and basic rights. May God’s grace and mercy through Jesus Christ filled the gay community and may we be the arms and feat of Christ led by the Holy Spirit to comfort those who mourn. Father God, forgive them who had blasphemed your name and made your grace cheap by their crusade against gays. Teach us how to love and to forgive them in spite of our pain and bitterness for thine is the Glory and Honor now and forever. May your grace and mercy in Christ meet us in the time of our deepest despair, giving us a new hope and a good future.