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Values, Sacred and Profane


Denny Meyer

The battle for LGBT rights in the military is over, right?  Wrong.  The Department of Defense is blocked from providing equal family benefits to gay service members due to the Defense of Marriage Act which prohibits the recognition of same sex marriages and families, based on the beliefs of a segment of the population.  All efforts to change that are challenged and prevented by bigoted zealots in Congress.  Wrapped in the American flag, those zealots seem to hold some of the same sort of values as those of the foreigners who attacked America: No rights for women, no rights for homosexuals, no rights for minorities and anyone who is different, a resentment of freedom, and the imposition of religious laws on the entire nation.  Imagine if our government said that African Americans and Christians may serve in our armed forces, but because of their race or religion, they don’t get any family benefits!  Outrageous, yet that is exactly what they are doing to gay patriots serving our nation.

What if some members of Congress refused to grant family benefits to female service members because they want to go back to a time when women were without any rights at all?  What would it be like if we lived in a strict theocracy, like those in some middle eastern countries, where women can be beaten for walking in public with their heads uncovered and where homosexual teenagers are hung in public squares simply because of who they are?

Imagine living in a country where the beliefs of one religion are law.  Be careful what you wish for!  Imagine all the horrible possibilities of your worst fears; and now imagine a democratic country where beliefs and laws are kept separate.  Yes, imagine living in America.  There are those in Congress and those running for president now who want to change that.  And we LGBT Americans are in their gun sights along with women and other minorities.

It has happened before, in Germany in the 1930s where a series of increasingly discriminatory exclusions against Jews were enacted.  They were forbidden from certain occupations, from owning businesses, and from going to school.  At first these seemed reasonable to people there who felt that, since it didn't affect them, it was none of their concern.  So, they didn't speak up.  By the time that the Genocide began, most didn't dare speak up because speaking up was punishable by death as well.  The Rev. Martin Niemöller, who himself had been sent to a concentration camp for speaking up, described the Nazi era thus:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me."

If you think that such things cannot happen here, just recall the anti-union laws enacted last year.  In fact, Sinclair Lewis wrote It Can't Happen Here in 1936, prophetically describing exactly how zealots could change America.

Bigoted American zealots have already started with attempted exclusions: Keeping gay patriots from serving in the military, keeping women from making their own choices, keeping minorities from voting, keeping those less fortunate from having healthcare, and more.  These are all belief-based selective exclusions that would affect all Americans regardless of their religious beliefs.

How do they justify this outrage?  They claim that their religious rights entitle them to discriminate and exclude and deny basic benefits and equality.  They claim that requiring equality and health benefits discriminates against their religious values.  What The….!  Talk about shit turned upside down!  How stupid do they think Americans are?

Here we are in America in the year 2012, eleven years after religious fanatics from the other side of the planet attacked America because they resent our freedom.  They want to impose their religious laws on the entire world and intend to kill those who will not submit.  Has that attack increased our American resolve to rejoice in our freedom and our determination to renew our resolve to maintain and increase that American value?  No, not for some politicians.  They want to enshrine into law exactly the values that those who attacked us want; and what the extremist leaders of some Middle Eastern countries want.  The names of the faiths are different but the belief-based laws are almost the same: Women shall have no rights, Homosexuals shall have no rights and should preferably be put to death, and marriage shall be permitted only according to the wishes of elders who either have multiple wives or are forbidden to marry at all.  Neither bunch of elders seems qualified to decide who shall be allowed to love whom.

Some years ago, I visited extremely religiously conservative relatives living in the Middle East.  During the visit, the elder of the family sat me down and with great and kindly concern asked me what I believed in.  I spoke about the obligation to speak up in the face of oppression, about the goal of humanity to achieve harmony thru mutual respect; and, as I went on, his face grew redder and redder with anger until, finally, he banged his fist on the table and exclaimed, "That is Not OUR religion, that is American ideology!"  I never felt prouder in my life; if only it were true.

©  2012 Gay Military Signal