Welcome to RelPol, a student peer reviewed online magazine. This magazine is part of the assessment for the module "In God We Trust" @ the University of Hull.
Friday the 26th of June 2015 saw a landmark decision within the United States as the Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage should be legal within all American states. This decision came after a 5 – 4 ruling by the Supreme Justices after the denial of same sex marriage rights was seen to violate the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection clauses. Whilst same sex marriage is, and has always been, a polarising topic, often due to political, religious or cultural opinion, it would seem that in recent years there has been a surprising shift in public opinion in favour of this right in America. According to a CNN/ORC poll in 2015, record numbers of American’s are now in favour of same sex couples rights to marry, with a ”super majority” of 63% in favour which is a 14% increase from 2010.
However, despite this sharp increase, there are still huge discrepancies within level of support when focussing upon America’s religious contingent. Pewforum polls show that whilst levels of religiously affiliated American’s support is increasing, it is still low in comparison to the non – religious contingent. Pewforum figures from 2015 show that 82% of American’s unaffiliated with religion are in favour of same sex marriage whilst only 24% of White evangelical Protestants are.
Religiously based arguments often used to explain an aversion to same sex marriage are passages from the bible such as Corinthians 7:2 which states ”but since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband,” or Leviticus 18:22 which says, ”do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” But, as News Week and many other articles point out, a majority of American reverence for the bible is outshone only by their ignorance to it’s actual content. A Pew research poll in 2010 found that evangelical Christians ranked only a slight bit higher than Atheists in familiarity with the Bible. And thus Christian fundamentalists are merely creating a pick and mix of which specific Bible verses they want to heed and which they want to discard or gloss over. They preach to the public and make scathing condemnations of homosexuals and same sex marriage. Yet they forget their hypocrisy as they conveniently overlook the numerous other sins mentioned in the bibles passages, such as shaving, cutting ones hair, anger, hate, crude or vulgar language, drunkenness and a whole plethora more which they probably knowingly, or unknowingly, participated in at some point or another. All this is coupled with religious rationalisation wherein scripture to support their own biases and beliefs is not able to be found and so they twist phrases and modify translations to prove that the Bible is favourable to their ideals. In 2012 The Huffington Post suggested that Christians apply the Bible to LGBT sex lives in ways they never would to a straight persons, despite the overwhelming number of passages about the topics of sex and gender found within the bible. Huffington Post notes that ”We don’t require rape victims to marry their rapists (Deuteronomy 22:28-29); we don’t tell women to lay off the jewellery (1 Peter 3:3); and we choose not to remember that the Bible provides specific instructions for the sexual use and marriage of slave girls (Exodus 21:7-11).” In this way, they try to use the bible as an excuse for their own hatred and bigotry of homosexuality by branding it as an immoral sin against God when, rationally, in the bible’s terms, anyone and everyone is a sinner.
Additionally, the Bible can be seen as increasingly unsuitable for modern times. Timothy 2:11 states ”let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” That a woman should be submissive and defer to a man in this way is a preposterous idea in today’s society. Women are viewed as being of equal merit to men, and so if this example of biblical representation is so inaccurate then surely the portrayal of homosexuality should be granted an updated definition too?
And with a part of America’s religious contingent in uproar over same sex marriage becoming legalised since it ‘changes the moral fabric of America’, we should look no further than the Declaration of Independence for a response. Despite being written almost 300 years ago, the Declaration is very clear and concise when it comes to laying out the freedoms granted to individuals within America; ”we hold these truths to be self – evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” So with that we can unequivocally denounce that the denial of human rights based on sexual preferences is in disagreement with the very documents which founded the country. By granting a right to one man and not another is stripping away the clear iteration that all men are created equal and thus should be treated that way. Where the bible is outdated, hypocritical and easily twisted and misconstrued, the Declaration of Independence is very clear in it’s standing of equal rights being granted to all. The Supreme Court ruling of legalisation of same sex marriage is not an impeachment on any civil rights, rather it is a new extension of the freedoms of America and the ability for every man or woman to continue with their pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness.