As Americans prepare themselves for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 27th, those who make the effort to encourage and enact the festivities are often reminded of the things we ought to be thankful for.
My love and gratitude goes out to my mother and father for doing their best to raise their only child. They were always there for me and they were much more open about matters that kids rarely or never talk to their parents about. When I think of mom and dad, I think of the passage of John 8:32 expression, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” I learned that as painful as it may be to be forthcoming, the truth will strengthen bonds and ensure enlightened moral values.
But I eventually discover that my moral values do not and should not ever dictate public policy.
Proposition 8 is an issue that is often raised despite the fact that the proposition was passed on November 4th. My blogging buddy, Ann Calhoun, posted an editorial piece on Proposition 8, asking Neal O’Hagan of Arroyo Grande to explain some of his ambiguous language in a letter he wrote to The Tribune. It’s a good read. It makes you think.
I feel that the evangelical right wing has muddied the waters so much so that the issue of separation of church and state has been undercut by the struggle to keep the church separate from the state. In our society, policymakers are often at a heavily disputed crossroads of ideas where they inject their moral views into law without taking into consideration that there are other people who have views that differ. Their narrow-mindedness trickles down to their constituents who attempt to stamp out rights of others by citing “traditional biblical values,” which is often not explained enough. And then one starts to ask, “Are those traditional biblical values my traditional biblical values?”
With that said, I think Proposition 8 goes beyond gay marriage. It’s about fundamentalist sects of religion (such as the Mormon Church) trying to take ownership of the laws that govern everyone, or in other words — and dare I say it — God’s children in the name of instilling tradition. Tradition is something that laws start with but society redefines tradition from generation to generation, thus effectively changing laws to accommodate evolving social standards. Understanding this, our founding fathers drafted the United States Constitution, using Christian principles as a means of creating a backbone that can be expanded to fit society’s time-influenced dynamics, not as a means of instilling the values our founding fathers had during their lifetime.
If tradition remained consistently enforced, we would still have slaves and the Thirteenth Amendment (1865) would not exist. We would still be discriminating as far as who votes based on their race, color, or previous status as a slave and the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) would not exist. We would be denying a woman’s right to vote and the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) would not exist. During the times when those subsequent amendments were introduced, religious fundamentalists also cited “traditional biblical values” as a means of disputing them. Today, would Americans collectively dispute these amendments while citing their traditional biblical values as their reasoning? I don’t think so.
This Thanksgiving, a tradition that reaffirms the many things we are thankful for, many of us ought to be thankful that we have rights. After we put down the turkey drumsticks and eat all of grandma’s special recipe pumpkin pie, we should extend our gratitude for the rights we were given by fighting for the rights for others. Then history and the people whose rights were not recognized before will be thanking you (and people like you) for what you have done to make sure they are equal.