Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Scalia Needs to Rethink “Morality”

Scalia Needs to Rethink “Morality”

Justice Anton Scalia has shockingly compared homosexuality to murder. He asked a Princeton student, “If we cannot have moral feelings about homosexuality, can we have them about murder?” Obviously, such a comparison is inflammatory and hurtful to same-gender loving people and their friends and families.

Justice Scalia justifies his hateful rhetoric by calling his opposition to homosexuality a moral argument. Never mind that Justice Scalia lacks the moral authority to make such pontifications, and that his unrestrained personal prejudices actually imply that he may be incapable of rendering impartial, fair, legally sound judgments in matters of full equality for same-gender loving people. What is most troubling is that this otherwise educated and clearly powerful person seems to be operating under the assumption that sexual orientation is a choice, and that even if it were, only one choice would be acceptable.

I’m gay, same-gender loving, Queer (yes, I muti-identify). Of course, my homosexuality is a matter of public record (I’ve been out and an activist for my entire adult life), so of course I disagree with Anton Scalia and all who try to disguise their heterosexism as moral values.

For me, my same gender love and attraction are innate. That said, if homosexuality were a choice it would be a VALID choice.

I no longer at this point in my life try to deconstruct homophobic interpretations of isolated scriptural verses (there are a total of about six in all of the bible that are used abusively against same-gender loving people), make excuses for the understandings of human sexuality in antiquity, or “prove” that same-gender love is as sacred as any other love. I don’t need to defend myself or my love against people who use religion like a weapon to exclude, abuse, control, or vilify any minority including LBGT people. I also no longer need to appeal to psychological, sociological, or biological arguments to justify same-gender love and attraction (copious though such arguments are).

I simply know myself to be a good person, my relationship to be a blessing in my life, and my love to be part of that universal energy of love that many of us call God. If same-gender love and attraction are healthy (and I insist they are), then whether such love and attraction are the result of biology, psychology, socialization, or choice doesn’t matter. Good is good no matter “why” it exists.

The reason that same-gender relationships can't be compared to heinous acts such as pedophilia, bestiality, incest, rape, and MURDER is that none of those things are about mutuality. All of those activities have a victim. People being attracted to each other, sharing time and intimacy together, and even loving each other are mutual, victimless, life-enhancing experiences. Two people choosing to share intimacy and perhaps a life together cannot by any reasonable person be compared to exploiting, assaulting or murdering someone!

"Moral" arguments against violence or abuse of power make sense. "Moral" arguments against consensual adult relationships are just bigotry posing as morality.

People are entitled to their prejudices I suppose, and I guess they are even entitled to pretend their prejudices are ordained by a supreme power (how convenient when one’s deity hates one’s enemies as well!), but let’s not confuse fear and hatred of the other, even when such fear and hatred are wrapped in religious language, as morality.

Justice Scalia’s anti-gay rhetoric (which, ironically, is anything but just) may appeal to homophobes and religious zealots, but it is increasingly out of the mainstream of 21st century thought. The day will come when even powerful people like Justice Scalia will not be able to deny or delay justice and equality for all people. As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” If we want to make moral arguments, we will talk about tolerance rather than demonizing others, inclusion rather than marginalizing others, and instead of vilifying people for their consensual adult relationships, we will demand “liberty and justice for ALL.”

Durrell Watkins holds sociology and theatre degrees from Henderson State University and Goddard College, respectively, as well as a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Episcopal Divinity School. He is the author of Wrestling with God without Getting Pinned: Old Stories, New Thoughts, & Progressive Spirituality (Outskirts Press, available at Amazon.com), and is the Senior Pastor of the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale (www.sunshinecathedral.org).

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