Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Still a Second-Class Citizen

Rev. Haffner is on the road this week. This guest blog is by Tim Palmer, who leads the Religious Institute's LGBT inclusion initiatives.

Thirty-eight elected officials -- each of them sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the American values of freedom and equality -- went on record today to say that I am second class. That I am not a full citizen of the nation where I was born. That even though I am subject to the same laws and tax codes as any other citizen, I am not entitled to the same rights.

I watched live-stream video from Albany this afternoon as 38 state senators voted down a bill authorizing civil marriage for same-sex couples. They took a roll call vote. Every "no" cut deep.

First came the disappointment. Just minutes before, I'd been captivated and inspired by the testimony of senators urging a yes vote. Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, a self-described PK (preacher's kid), said her sister, now a minister, might disagree with her vote, but she was casting it in honor of their brother, a gay man long estranged from both his family and his country.

Several other senators spoke eloquently of their faith and of the Bible's unqualified directive that we work for justice and treat one another with love. Senator Liz Krueger acknowledged that some senators believed their religion compelled them to vote no. She answered that her faith compelled her just as strongly to vote yes.

Disappointment soon turned to anger. I've been writing this blog post in my head all day, each time finding sharper, more stinging words to assail those 38 senators. Only one of them had risen to speak against the bill; the other 37 lacked either the courage or a decent argument. Most probably lacked both.

But, amidst the anger, an image kept coming to mind -- of Jesus standing silently before Pilate, bearing deeper cuts and greater indignities than I will ever know. In the end, justice and love will speak for themselves.

So today we draw a breath, whisper a prayer, and keep the faith.

My partner Eduardo and I got engaged a few months ago. Until today, we held some hope that we might be married here at home. Now it looks like Vermont for us. It won't be a big wedding, but in this economy, I'm guessing the Vermont innkeepers, the Vermont florist, the Vermont caterers, the Vermont musicians and the Vermont restaurateurs will be glad for the income.

There is at least some justice in that.

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