Edwards Needs To Support Gay Rights

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John Edwards has a troublesome position on Gay marriage.  He supports civil unions.  Gay rights are a foundational issue, and John Edwards needs to step up and show some backbone.  His current position is untenable:

This isn’t a tough issue. You either support equality, or you do not. You either support separation of Church and State, or you argue that marriage is “sacred” and the state has a say in what constitutes a “sacred” marriage.

“Civil Unions” are a piss poor attempt at having it both ways, a return to the “separate but equal” bullshit that the civil rights movement knocked out of the water.

Either John Edwards supports separation of Church and State or he does not.  There are two consistent approaches to Gay marriage.  Either make civil unions the business of the state for all couples (leaving marriage up to religious institutions), or make marriage available for all couples.

Edwards is on point for every other position he’s staked out on LGBT issues.  One more bold move will not have an adverse conclusion.  It will further set him apart from the tepid front runners while reinforcing his own core message of equality and backbone.

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Why Gay Rights Matter

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There are so many other issues to tackle, especially with the 2008 elections looming.

Why Gay rights?

I’m not a person one would typically count as a stakeholder. I am straight. I am, if not religious, deeply spiritual. So why Gay rights, and why now? Why me?

Because homophobia exemplifies hate born from religion. Because it is a hate that drives a splintering wedge into our shared humanity.

Religious extremism, we liberals tell ourselves, is wrong. But it goes beyond that. It is a false belief, that the followers of other religions are in some way doomed. That those who find themselves attracted to the same sex, or gender identify off the beaten path are somehow less human than the rest of us. That they are somehow sinful. These beliefs, themselves, are behind so much of the hate and violence roiling our world.

We are one. One humanity, one spirit. This is our fundamental nature. And when we forget that, when we actively work against that unity, we provide a gulf that excuses and encourages violence. Spirituality is fundamentally incompatible with separation. The ethical role of religion and spirituality is to bring us all closer together, not drive us further apart.  It is natural for the spiritual and the religious to support gay rights.

So when I take up the cause of Gay rights, and encourage more to do the same, I am simultaneously working at a greater cause. At its very core the struggle for equal rights is a struggle to realize unity. It is the active, social aspect of the spiritual journey.

The cause of Gay rights is the same battle fought during the civil rights movement.  It is our fight for universal health care, and a foreign policy that puts peace before war.  When we champion Gay rights we stand against Church’s efforts to overtake State.

Future generations are losing the hatred of those who came before, and moving beyond tolerance to acceptance.  When they look back on us, they should see women and men of principle who fought for equality when it mattered:   Now.