Guest Column: Equal Rights For All Includes Gays



“God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” the pastor barked. The small, mostly black congregation surrounding me erupted in laughter. I chuckled along with them. I was only about ten or eleven at the time, but even then it was a familiar theme. I was reared under the tutelage of a devout Christian mother and spent much of my youth visiting churches all over Florida. The message that homosexuality was a sin was one that was uniformly delivered with a heaping of fire and brimstone. I reflect on those foreboding sermons now as we collectively await the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA, as it is often referred, lingers as one of the final vestiges of codified inequality that our country openly tolerates and serves as glaring evidence of our failure to truly heed the lessons of the civil rights era. The high court should repeal this law and in so doing remind us that “all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.”

When I left my mother’s home to join the Army, I carried the lessons she had taught me and her view of the world which had been shaped, primarily, by her faith. Those principles were constantly tested and many were fortified in the challenges presented by military life, but I increasingly found myself unable to reconcile some with the realities of the world. How could a loving God, possessed of the capacity to forgive any transgression, reject his own creations simply for being who they are? Years removed from that time, I now know that that paradox cannot be resolved to any satisfying degree. I also know that in regards to public policy, it does not need to be. Our laws may be developed in the midst of a collision of varying belief systems, but they should not be rooted in religious ideology.

DOMA reinforces the ecclesiastical notion that same-sex unions are unnatural despite evidence that homosexuality has existed in the natural world for as long as humans have (see anything related to ancient Greece, Rome, etc.). It denies gay and lesbian couples the legal rights that traditionally accompany marriage which has implications in a host of other matters including healthcare, immigration, probate, etc. Most egregiously, it reinstitutes in our country a discriminatory separation in classes of citizenship.

Some issues cannot and should not be decided by the ballot. Emancipation wasn’t. School integration wasn’t. Neither should this very real and pivotal human rights issue. The justices should make the only decision that lives up to our country’s promise: Liberty for all.

Elroy John was president of the Broward Young Democrats from Feb. 2009 to Nov. 2010.  A U. S. Army veteran and Florida Atlantic University graduate, Elroy currently works for a non-profit organization that finds housing for homeless veterans.




7 Responses to “Guest Column: Equal Rights For All Includes Gays”

  1. Walter says:

    Great article! I would be silly to allow a majority to vote on the rights of a minority. Imagine if non-blacks were allowed to vote on civil rights or slavery. It’s time to move forward.

  2. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    Gawd also says…

    Deuteronomy 20:10-14)

    As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you.

  3. Answer to Elroy says:

    Our loving God loves the Homosexual. It is the act that is a sin. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, you can still have life ever after. Don’t try to remove pages from the bible. It was here before you and it will still be here long after you are gone.

  4. Take off the Blinders says:

    I raise my whiskey glass and give you a toast, Elroy. Well said! Thank you for taking the time out to share your wisdom and insights.

  5. Le Peerman says:

    Thank you. And it should not be left up to the states either as the laws would be changed every time there is a different party in power. I never thought I would see in my lifetime as much open discussion as I have seen.

  6. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    >> Take off the Blinders says:
    March 20th, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I raise my whiskey glass and give you a toast

    Drinking whiskey at 11:34am? You need a meeting.

  7. christine says:

    It is sad that you never grew your religious formation beyond that of a literalistic, fundamentalism. For Christians who understand the Bible as humankind’s evolving understanding of the experience of God present in our lives, we answer your searing question with the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who was love incarnate.