Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Faith In America: Challenging Bigotry Masquerading as Religious Truth

A recent email announcement from the organization Faith In America (see the list of links for this blog) contains some heartening news about how our justice system is continuing to connect the dots between racial and homophobic bigotry. Faith In America notes that California attorney Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), recently praised Faith In America for helping to connect the dots through a June 2007 press conference featuring Mildred Loving.

Mildred Loving was a plaintiff in the 1967 case Loving v. Virginia, which led to the abolition of laws forbidding interracial marriage. In June 2007, at a press conference sponsored by Faith In America, Mildred Loving issued a statement in which she said gay and lesbian Americans should not be denied the right to marry the person they love.

According to Shannon Minter, this statement had a significant influence on the thinking of the majority of California Supreme Court justices who recently struck down the state’s laws forbidding gay marriage. In one of the concurring opinions supporting the California Supreme Court decision, Justice Joyce L. Kennard echoed the logic of Loving v. Virginia to permit interracial marriage, as she argued:

The architects of our federal and state Constitutions understood that widespread and deeply rooted prejudices may lead majoritarian institutions to deny fundamental freedoms to unpopular minority groups, and that the most effective remedy for this form of oppression is an independent judiciary charged with the solemn responsibility to interpret and enforce the constitutional provisions guaranteeing fundamental freedoms and equal protection.

Mitchell Gold, founder of Faith In America, states,

We were most pleased to learn that the Loving statement played a role in helping the justices connect the dots between the injustice of bigotry and discrimination against minorities in the past and the injustice that exists today from the deep-seated hostility and prejudice toward gay and lesbian individuals that is so often justified by misguided religious teaching and tradition with religious institutions.

The plaintiffs' arguments in the case appealed to the most fundamental aspect of not only this case but for all efforts to allow gay and lesbian people to enjoy the same human dignity that all Americans have an inalienable right to enjoy. Nothing should be allowed to stand opposed to such a basic human right. And without doubt, the bigotry and prejudice behind opposition to just a basic human right should never be allowed to masquerade as religious truth.

The bigotry and prejudice behind opposition to just a basic human right should never be allowed to masquerade as religious truth: simple logic. Profound truth.

For more information on the connections between the struggle for the right of gay persons to marry, and the previous struggle for the right of interracial couples to marry, see www.faithinamerica.info/loving.php. The resources on this weblink of Faith In America include a video clip of civil rights leader Julian Bond speaking about the Loving decision and its connection to gay marriage.


colkoch said...

Bill, sometimes names just blow me away. Are you saying the California decision turned on the 'Loving' decision. How ironic is that?

William D. Lindsey said...

Colleen, you're right. Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. What are the chances, in a novel, that someone (except Dickens) would name a landmark court case about the right to love Loving v. Virginia?