Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Doing what's right

Here at Sodom on the Charles in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, today is potentially historic. We'll know soon, but I decided to post this before we get the verdict because what I have to say is the same either way.

As you know, a couple of years ago our state's highest court ruled that the Massachusetts constitution guarantees equality under the law to everybody, and that even includes people who Pat Robertson and Pope Benedict believe will be tortured for all eternity by their benevolent God who made them. I refer, of course, to lesbians and gay men who want to get married. The Catholic Church, after decades spent sponsoring the serial rape of hundreds of children, elected to impose its superior moral virtue against those wretched sinners by sponsoring a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. They collected enough petition signatures during church services to force the state legislature to consider putting the amendment to a referendum.

We have an odd system for amending the state constitution, which requires at least 25% of the members of both houses, meeting as a single conference, to approve the amendment two years in a row. Last year it squeaked by with about 28%31% or so, but many of the legislators who ran for reelection on a platform of banning same sex marriage were defeated, so this year it's too close to call. Yes, the depraved and satanic hordes who elected John Kerry and Ted Kennedy to the Senate, having watched their neighbors get married for the past two years and seeing nothing bad happen, have decided that it's okay after all. Nevertheless, the silk-robed child rapists are brandishing their solid gold candlesticks and sulfurous threats at the people's representatives, and they still may be able to force the voters to consider whether some people just aren't really people after all.

Now, from a public health point of view, this issue is very clear. It's extremely important to eliminate stigma from sexuality, because it's when people are marginalized and driven underground, made to feel filthy and ashamed, are denied self-acceptance, and can't talk openly about their feelings and behaviors, that they behave in dangerous and self-destructive ways. Moral condemnation, shaming, and hatred don't only harm people's spirit, they make it impossible to counsel and support them to protect themselves and others. They directly cause substance abuse, depression and self loathing, undermine responsibility, and kill people.

Acceptance of lesbians and gay men as full citizens, equal and valued members of the community, parents, in-laws, neighbors and friends, makes us a healthy society. If you believe in a God who despises people for being the way he made them, you might think again about offering him praise.

Update: We won big! The amendment went down 151 to 45. Massachusetts is now truly the land of the free.

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