Friday, April 24, 2009

Faith in America's Open Letter to Miss Ca

So I just got off the phone with a good friend who sometimes checks in when something gay happens.
She wanted to talk about the Perez Hilton/Miss California Gay Marriage Question.
I like these talks. We get to move deeper; explore farther.
Getting peppered with soundbites doesn't cut it anymore.... they used to feel like an elephant stampede, but now, it's more like a swarm of gnats.
And when we take the time and risk of talking about what is Important to us, it can feel like the difference between getting a post card from Wyoming, or spending a week hiking through the mts, valleys, river beds, and vast plains....
So. Much. Richer.
In an attempt to add to the vista, I'm posting Faith In America's Open Letter to Miss California.
And, my personal 2 cents: Faith is not the exclusive Trump Card of one side.
An open letter to Carrie Prejean

April 22nd, 2009

Dear Ms. Prejean,

On a recent interview with’s Courtney Friel, you stated that you did not mean to offend anyone when you stated your opposition to gay Americans having the right to marry.
We believe you are sincere in that answer.

But we are writing this letter in hopes that you will come to better understand why it does offend gay Americans, their families and their friends. It’s the kind of hurt that burrows deep within a person’s soul always there to remind them that there are those around them who deem them inferior, undeserving and unworthy to be treated like everyone else.

Just imagine if the question had been about Mildred Loving’s marriage to her husband Richard?
Mildred and Richard lived in Virginia, a state that banned interracial marriage at the time. So they went to the District of Columbia and married in 1958. Upon their return to their home in rural Virginia, they were arrested.

Leon Bazille, the trial judge in the case, ruled in 1959 that the Lovings had violated what was considered at the time a religious tenant of civil marriage in America – that people of the opposite race should not marry because “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages.”

Later in 1966, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the Lovings’ conviction, with then Chief Justice Harry Lee Carrico writing these words: “Marriage, as creating the most important relation in life, as having more to do with the morals and civilization of a people than any other institution, has always been subject to the control of the Legislature.”

Sound familiar?

It’s interesting that this month is the same month that the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Loving case. The question before them was basically the same question that we as a society face today in regard to marriage between two people of the same sex and in essence the same question before you Sunday night.

Is it right to use deep-seated prejudice – even when such prejudice is widely accepted in society – to deny someone the same right that other Americans enjoy?

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 ruling that Mildred should not be denied the right to marry the person she loved – despite the fact that interracial marriage was not widely accepted in America at that time.

The most important question as it relates to your response to the question Sunday night is why was interracial marriage not accepted by a majority of Americans in 1967?

It was because for years the church had taught what Judge Bazille referred to in his statement – that God did not want people of opposite races sullying the sanctity of marriage.

I had the rare honor to meet with Mildred Loving in May 2007, just weeks before the 40th anniversary of that landmark Supreme Court decision. As we sat there in the same wood-frame house in which she and Richard resided, I asked Mildred what she thought about those people who had used their Bible to justify prejudice against her.

She said it obviously offended her but that the pain didn’t penetrate deeply because she knew in her heart that God doesn’t want us to use religious teaching to look down upon others as inferior, unworthy or undeserving.

In the interview, you also stated that you considered your response Sunday night a test of your character and your faith.

Mildred Loving in 2008 issued a statement which answers the question about gay Americans having the right to marry:

“Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

They are the words of an extraordinary and beautiful woman who possessed rare courage, strong character and unyielding faith.

Brent Childers
Executive Director
Faith In America


BigMama said...

What a powerful letter. Thanks for sharing. I'm a bit out of the loop on these issues, and it's good to read what others have to say.

deb said...

Hi, Thanks for posting this. I'm linking to your post and posting the Mildred Loving quote.

Carol said...

Hey that was a great letter, one I hadn't looked up. Thanks!

BigMama said...

Is it wrong to shake my head at Miss Prejean's prior work while she moralizes about gay marriage?

hillsideslide said...

You know, i was watching that on the news when it 1st broke- and just as I was about to go the head-shaking route, they switched back to a clip of her at the Miss USA pagent, strutting in her bikini... and i thought, "Really? What's the difference?"

Why is top off from behind any worse?

I don't know... maybe its just the way I was brought up, but coming from MY family, from My church, and raised with ideals of MY country, I believe the whole pagent thing is degrading to 1/2 of God's children, and is consumed by the "lesser angels" of a lot of folks, including plenty of moralizing Christians.

Hmm, Juila comes to mind~