[Parks] I'm a Decent Human Being, Too | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Parks] I'm a Decent Human Being, Too

When I first got to my precinct in Louisiana to vote, the people behind me greeted me cheerfully. They wanted to know where I go to school, what I want to be, what I thought of the rain outside. After we all realized the line we were standing in was where we'd be for almost an hour, they started comparing the wait to the lines for the Louisiana Marriage Amendment a few weeks ago, which were much shorter. That amendment passed by 78 percent of the vote, but was declared unconstitutional by a state judge on Oct. 5.

During that election, I only had to stand in line behind two people (both of whom were wearing rebel flags as pants, I might add). I didn't mention this to my line-friends. There wasn't time. The lady behind me said: "I don't know why that amendment got overturned. It's what the people want. It's what we good Christians want."

From there, she launched into a discourse about those heathen ho-mo-SEX-u-als and how they need to stay away from her children. And then: "If they want to separate church and state, I want my mail on Christmas and Thanksgiving. I want them to have to work on Christian holidays."

For a second, I agreed with them, but then remembering that Christmas's heavy dedication to lavish spending is hardly on par with the don't-store-up-treasures-on-earth bits I've read in the Bible, I quickly decided that Christmas is barely a "Christian holiday," anyway. Thanksgiving never was, as far as I know.

"But they want to take the Bible out of evvvvv-re-thing," she continued. "Evvv-re-thing."

I was assuming at this point that the "they" she referenced were homosexuals or the ubiquitous men keeping us all down, or both. Either way, I felt sure that I was part of the "they," seeing as I had voted against the amendment.

When I got back to Mississippi after driving for two hours in the dark rain, I expected to find that many Mississippians had voted for the marriage amendment here. I've heard plenty of people rant about how evil and perverted homosexuals are. And even those who don't really think that might have followed The Clarion Ledger's endorsement of "why not?"—the paper called the amendment "unnecessary but harmless."

What I did not expect was to come home to find that 86 percent of voting Mississippians support the ban. I guess they, too, were worried about taking the Bible out of evvv-re-thing.

I don't want to take the Bible out of evvv-re-thing—just my Constitution and the other laws that regulate my state. I suspect they would want the Bible out of there, too, if it meant we started obeying Leviticus's rules (or chapter 19, alone).

Though it might warn against the dangers of eating shellfish, harvesting fields with more than one grain, rounding men's beards and cutting women's hair, I actually still believe in quite a bit of the Bible. I still believe that faith without works is useless. I believe in loving my neighbor as myself. I believe in God.

But I'm also a lesbian, which in the eyes of my line-friends makes me pretty useless as a Christian. Never mind the verses they choose to ignore; I'm disregarding the important ones that say homosexuals are living in sin. Homosexuality didn't even make the Ten Commandments; surely there's more to worry about than my kissing, or even just dating, women.

I used to be one of these people, though. I spent years of my life crying by myself thinking God would never love me because I was inherently attracted to women. I tried dating boys, but I didn't feel any closer to God. In fact, when I began to allow myself to date women, I felt much closer to God because I wasn't living a lie anymore.

If these soi-disant Christians would research their Bibles and actually live based on the words, I have a hunch that they'd be bringing more people to Christ. If you want homosexuals to "turn to God," start treating us like we're more than second-class citizens. Many homosexuals actually do love God and feel as if we have a close relationship with Him. Many of us won't go to church, though, because we're told there to eschew our innate attractions—to ignore who we are through no choice of our own.

We deserve rights, too, but "the Church" doesn't want to hear that. Never mind that allowing civil unions, at the very least, might help promiscuity within the gay community to subside. Never mind that allowing loving homosexual couples to adopt children would bring so many children out of adoption homes (is it really better to let children live in adoption homes when many couples would love to raise them in warm, loving homes?).

I don't want the Bible taken out of evvv-re-thing. I just want to be treated like a decent human being, because, well, I am one. My attraction to women doesn't change that. As a character in Jeanette Winterson's novel "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" responds when someone tells her to choose between God and women, "I love both."

Millsaps College senior Casey Parks is the assistant editor of the Jackson Free Press and the editor of the Millsaps Purple & White. She is a Louisiana native.

Previous Comments

ID
69440
Comment

I felt betrayed by that vote, and I'm not even gay. I talked to a friend yesterday, who lives on the coast. She said that the little old ladies in her congregation voted AGAINST the gay marriage ban, because "why would they want to hurt the feelings of their friends." Made me think that there may be hope - that we can all become decent human beings, if we just start to treat each other as decent human beings.

Author
kate
Date
2004-11-11T13:52:51-06:00
ID
69441
Comment

That amendment made me angrier than anything else in the election. But let's don't forget the 14% or so of Mississipians who have some sense! It's awful but a lot more than nothing... I was driving down Old Canton Road last week and a car in front of me had a bumper sticker that looked like this: a drawing of a wedding ring, an equals sign, and then stick figures of a man and a woman. In my disgust I could only think, we are living in South Africa-esque apartheid. Gays are not treated as equal citizens but they should be and someday that damn bumper sticker is going to be as abhorrent to everyone as images of lynching are today. So, kudos to you Casey, for your eloquence and courage in voicing your ideas and experiences.

Author
Izzy
Date
2004-11-11T14:33:43-06:00
ID
69442
Comment

I'm with Laurel. The amendment was the most disappointing thing of all for me. I can't see how allowing gay folks to marry is a danger to the state's children. If you ask most parents what they want for their child, the majority of them will say, "For her/him to be happy." I feel like there are an awful lot of Mississippians who voted against their children's right to be happy and be treated as an equal. How can allowing same-sex marriage hurt the traditional family? The man/woman unions have been messing THAT up for years--just look at the country's divorce rates! If you ask me, the traditional family needs all the darn help it can get, because that "traditional family" group has been putting some awfully sick, selfish, irresponsible, warped and functionally inept puppies into the social stream in past years, in spite of their good intentions!

Author
dawn
Date
2004-11-11T16:51:17-06:00
ID
69443
Comment

I'm with Laurel, too. One of the painful aspects of all this for me, beyond seeing the pain my gay friends are going through, is that Ióas a red-stater and Mississippianóam assumed to also be a gay bigot, at least until proved otherwise. I (and all y'all white folks) have dealt with being assumed to be a racist because I'm from Mississippi my whole life. And we can blame the "outsiders" all we want for thisóbut the truth is, the state voted 2-to-1 to keep the Confederate emblem and, now, 86 percent to place the denial of marriage rights to gays and lesbians into the state constitution. So they're reflecting what we send out. On top of all that, once again, as folks sit and self-righteously think they did the right thing, such moves hurt our economic-development efforts to become a Creative Class place that attracts/keeps smart, industrious, cool young people, just as having that hateful image in our state flag does. Do we have ANY toes left to shoot off? However, I'm optimistic. Bigotry, of whatever type, must be brought to the surface before it can be decreased. So here we are. Keep on chuggin'. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-11-11T17:59:04-06:00
ID
69444
Comment

Donna, I hear ya on the assumptions. I'm just back from a software conference, and the looks of trepidation I got from people on the Coasts, and from Europe, when they heard I live in MS, were comically depressing. And the constant refrain of "how can you live there?". If the folks at MDA are serious about this Creative Class thing they keep talking about, they need to take an actual leadership role in promoting diversity. "Diversity" seems to mean only race-relations stuff to alot of people. For me, there's as much to be done on religious tolerance/diversity. We aren't going to be attracting alot of new businesses if most people in the state think the homosexuals, the jews, the hindus, the buddhists, the yogis, etc are all going to hell. Which is why my husband and I eagerly await the Rapture - we figure all the really annoying people will be gone then.

Author
kate
Date
2004-11-11T18:40:39-06:00
ID
69445
Comment

As I said in an earlier post -- of the three ..God, Gays, and Guns...GOD is the one we likely have to concentrate on. Show how relgious doctrine informing government policy is detrimental government and religion For a great start, read up about the history of The Papal States in central Italy (of which Vatican City is the tiniest remnant therof). Also, ask people to think about why, if Christian Based Governments, are so wonderful why Puritan Massachusetts (the Bible Belt of its day) gradually abandoned Bible-based government. [1]. Talk to others about how Jesus ate with "sinners" (tax collectors, Samaritans, and prostitutes (the "gays" , "blacks and mullatos", and...well "prostitutes"....of their day), proving to Christians that one should even associate with "filthy" people. How far would Jesus have gotten if he took a Pharisaic approach toward these people? Once we take care of the "God" issue, "Gays" will be much easier to deal with (there's still "Guns" though, but that's a whole other issue).

Author
Philip
Date
2004-11-11T22:43:30-06:00
ID
69446
Comment

What do you mean "Gays" will be much easier to deal with? Thanks for the compliments, all! It was actually really nice and therapeutic for me to write this. I even sent it to my momma, who loved it!

Author
casey
Date
2004-11-12T13:04:51-06:00
ID
69447
Comment

One of my dear, dear bear friends has a fridge magnet that reads, "Legalize Gay Marriage. Why should heterosexuals be the only ones miserable?" Or something to that effect, anyway. I just love that, and certainly agree. So many rabid Christians, so few lions. Traditional Christianity has always felt so judgemental, so hypocritical and censuring, that after I tried several denominations I decided they were all limiting God too much. I think S/He is a much cooler deity than most religions give credit for. I don't think homosexuals are an abomination in God's eyes, but rather God's creation. I just think mankind skewed it somewhere along the way because they didn't know how to explain it, but mainly because keeping the family line alive (sons) was such a major issue. Plus that age-old crap about how virile a man must be by the number of sons he's bred, and let's not forget the malarkey about a woman being good wife material 'cause of those childbearing hips that could bear many sons....

Author
dawn
Date
2004-11-12T15:12:02-06:00
ID
69448
Comment

Very well written Casey. And that picture is CUTE!

Author
emilyb
Date
2004-11-12T22:10:24-06:00
ID
69449
Comment

it's my impression of donna's old editor pick. we try to have great fun making our contributor's photos. the response to this has been so welcoming and nice. i've even had offers to attend church with people! Ah, Jackson, MS, you are so wonderful.

Author
casey
Date
2004-11-13T10:46:04-06:00
ID
69450
Comment

Excuse me if I sound a little bit defensive, but Dawn's opinions of the "traditional family" are less than flattering, and I belive in most cases just untrue. I think it would be a tremendous mistake though to make an assumption that homosexual marriages would not have their problems too, including divorce. That's always a possibility regardless of sexual preference. I am a heterosexual male married to a heterosexual woman for almost 21 years. It is our first and only marriage. We both voted AGAINST the ban on same sex marriages. (Frankly, we both believe that should have never shown up on the ballot in the first place.) We have 3 intelligent, compassionate children, who we believe have very commendable value systems. They don't drink, don't smoke, don't believe in pre-marital sex, believe in a loving God, and I'm pretty sure the two who are old enough to vote also voted AGAINST banning same sex marriages. All "Christians" are not hypocrites and all couples in "traditional marriages" don't sit around cranking out a bunch of juvenile delinquents just to make everybody else's lives miserable.

Author
CodeCutter
Date
2004-11-13T12:55:48-06:00
ID
69451
Comment

I think you make an excellent point, Code. It doesn't do any good to the cause of equal rights for gay to insult people who choose traditional marriages. We all know folks in bad marriages, and I've known gays and lesbians in difficult relationships, being cheated on, etc. It sounds like you have created a wonderful family for yourself there. Thanks for showing up here. Your voice is very welcome.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-11-13T14:56:33-06:00
ID
69452
Comment

Casey: What do you mean "Gays" will be much easier to deal with? Philip: What that means is that much of the ìGaysî issue is rooted in the ìGodî (as in theology-influenced politics) issue. We can have all the intelligent pro-gay rights arguments at our disposal, but it will STILL bump up against the wall of fundamentalist theology. This is especially true when religion becomes part of the socio-political agenda. Incidentally, taking care of the "God" issue might also cause the culture to start seeing religion as a private concern - and thus curtail attacks against evolution, "immoral behavior" (not just in a gay/lesbian sense), and the generally incessant public expressions of faith I saw in the Jackson area. My dentist back in Jackson invited me, whom he never saw before in his life, to a revival on my first two visits!! At my jobs, open expressions of religon at inappropriate venues and times was quite common! And remember, you did not hear this complaint from a non-believer!!!)

Author
Philip
Date
2004-11-13T19:13:06-06:00
ID
69453
Comment

I'm sorry, Code, I meant much of it more tongue-in-cheek than came across, trying to laugh when in truth I'm just hurt for my gay friends. You're certainly allowed to be defensive, and also lauded for your long-lasting marriage. I think if you look around at your friends, though, not all are like that, the one and only. I didn't mean to be insulting, and in fact like to think that I'm in some semblance of a traditional marriage myself (well, as much as musicians can be, anyway). I don't assume same-sex unions will be free of problems, either; in fact, I was saying they experience problems too, so why shouldn't they be able to have legally-bound relationships? And beyond the successful traditional family, I know there are also single mothers and fathers that have reared fine, productive citizens. The main point I guess I failed to make is that allowing same-sex unions could help take up the slack where our more traditional families have failed. Sorry I'm not more rah-rah-rah for the home team.

Author
dawn
Date
2004-11-14T22:55:33-06:00
ID
69454
Comment

Dawn; I have been thinking about what I posted, and I have to apologize to you. I was too busy trying to defend one position, and completely ignored yours. As a matter of fact, my brother has been divorced twice, and my mom and dad once. I agree with you 100% that if two people love each other, and are committed to sharing their lives together, they should be allowed to, legally, and I think a lot of people had their rights trampled on simply because their sexual preferences go against the "norm". Thank you Dawn, for pointing out what I failed to see. :-)

Author
CodeCutter
Date
2004-11-15T06:41:22-06:00

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