As Pride Month comes to a close, I sit reflecting on the state of the movement. I reflect on my own relationship as a straight ally to the LGBT community, thinking on the progress that has been made as well as the honest look at where we’re at. The unsettled feeling is, of course, still with me as I acknowledge where our society is, in 2016.
Still with us, is the “Misunderstanding American”, those subscribing to a religious doctrine that defines what a homosexual is (or what you deserve for homosexual behavior), the “Silent Ally American”, those who intellectually understand and support equal civil rights, gender equality, and the LGBT movement, but do nothing to challenge homophobia, biphobia or transphobia, and of course, at our very worst, the “Radicalized Hate-filled American”, those willing to take extreme acts of pure hatred on lesbian, gay, bi, or trans people in order to ‘cleanse’ or ‘correct’ society.
Most, if not all of you know by now about the controversial House Bill 2, better know as the “Bathroom Bill” that passed in North Carolina in late March. The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act passed the state House 82-26 and the state Senate 32-0, as Senate Democrats walked out in an act of protest refusing to vote on the bill. Most, if not all of you have heard of the many responses across the country from celebrities and businesses large and small supporting or opposing the bill. For a list showing who is supporting or against the law The Charlotte Observer has an extensive breakdown.
Do you notice a pattern here? The companies, groups, and individuals who are against the bill overwhelmingly represent where the majority of the nation is at on this issue. Those who are in the supporting camp are typically more socially conservative and/or religiously affiliated. Full disclosure, I am against the bill, and I want to speak here to the individuals who are in support of HB2.
I understand that you want to protect the vulnerable people who might be victimized by individuals claiming to be a man or a woman, just to get access to a bathroom or locker room that doesn’t match the biologically assigned sex on their birth certificate. I understand that you feel that transgendered people may be confused, or are going through a phase, or perhaps suffered from childhood abuse that “made them this way”. I understand that you believe that this legislation does overall good for our society, and perhaps takes us one step closer to getting our culture “back on the right track”. I believe I understand your position on this matter. If I don't, or if I have missed a big piece of your argument, please let me know in the comments section. And, please take an open and honest moment to understand my position.
This summer’s landmark Supreme Court 5–4 decision that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples (re: Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses) has been the largest victory to date for LGBTQ equality. And, there has been, as we all knew there would be, expected push back in certain pockets of the U.S. Front and center in the media, Rowan County Courthouse Clerk Kim Davis continues to keep the definition of marriage a lively debate. As I’m sure you know by now, Davis cited God’s Law as her reasoning for refusing to follow the U.S. Supreme Court order, “To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.”
As of this morning Davis returns to work and removes her name and authority from the marriage licenses, in the hopes that the whole world will know where she stands. Her deputy clerks will continue to issue “unauthorized marriage licenses pursuant to a federal court order.” This apparent compromise suggests that Davis does not have to violate her beliefs, and that Rowan County Courthouse will be able to function properly under current federal law. By now you’ve also no doubt seen Planting Peace’s billboard illustrating one of many biblical definitions of marriage that have been culturally abandoned in the U.S. So how do religious and legal definitions of marriage play out in present day America?
Robin S. Smith is a psychotherapist practicing in Bethesda, MD. Robin created The Couple and Family Clinic Blog to provide useful articles on issues related to mental health as well as articles on local, national, and international news stories. Learn more about Robin on the About Page.