In light of the news of the suicide of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, who killed himself Sunday as a result of gay bullying in school, I thought I’d highlight a piece that’s gone viral over the last week by North Carolina Dad Eric Shepherd, who writes “observations from the intersection of religion, science, politics, and culture” at his blog def shepherd. In a post titled, “Why A Heterosexual, Married, North Carolinian Father Of Three Cares About LGBT Equality,” Shepherd lays out exactly that: his case for the passage of gay marriage rights in his state.
He writes, “I’ve had people ask why I am so vocal about the issue of LGBT equality. Why is a heterosexual, married father so concerned with what gay people can or can’t do? I don’t have a dog in this fight, do I? I find those kinds of questions to be puzzling (and telling), as if we should value the rights of one group of humans over any other group, or only be concerned with the welfare of a group to which we belong.” Then he quotes Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel as saying, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” The emphasis here is mine, since I want to point out that Anderson Cooper’s guests said the same thing about the use of neutral language and its inability to fight gay bullying in schools.
The bullet points of Shepherd’s pro-gay marriage argument don’t really involve any rationales that haven’t been used multiple times (gay people are citizens, homosexuality is not a choice, children of gays do well, etc.), except maybe this: Religious arguments against same-sex marriage do not pass the Lemon Test. Shepherd writes:
I am not sure I have heard anyone make a case against same-sex marriage that did not invoke religion. The second that your argument mentions God, or references a biblical passage, I cannot entertain your argument. As a Humanist, I reject supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition. Your religious arguments against same-sex marriage belong on that heap of nonsense. They have no basis in reality, are not supported by the science, and have no place in legislation. Unfortunately, anti-LGBT legislators cynically take great care to ensure that the language in their legislation is not based on a religious ground — even though we all know it is rooted in religious dogma. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
Shepherd’s point really hits home, though, when he talks about his own sons, saying:
I am a father of three beautiful boys…. if I did have a gay son, how could I explain to him that people don’t want him to have the same rights as everyone else? How can I explain to him that if he wants to grow up, buy a home, and start a family, he might need to move to a state that doesn’t reject him? How can I explain that people believe he is an abomination whose perverted lifestyle will lead him to an eternity in hell? How would I feel if my son killed himself because he was bullied, maligned, ridiculed, and made to feel as if he had no place in society? The only way to avoid any of our children going through this is to send a clear message that people are different and that’s okay. Some families just have one mom, or one dad. Some have a mom and a dad. And some have two moms or two dads. And maybe if our state’s leaders stop sending the message to our children that they are unwanted, maybe we can save the life of a child. Isn’t that worth it?
You can read his entire post here. In one of a few follow-up posts on the subject, Shepherd says not enough straight allies are doing enough to help the LGBT community. I’m trying! Are you?