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Legislating from the Bible: The red state foundation of government ‘service’

Thursday, January 23, 2014
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The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.

While that reads like a tired bumper sticker, there are still lawmakers in the United States who use this as the very foundation of their government “service.”

Sally Kern

Sally Kern

One such lawmaker is Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern.

Even people who may not be able to find Oklahoma on a map know of Kern and her opposition to anything that resembles equality for LGBTQ Americans. Especially marriage equality.

I recently had the opportunity to debate Sister Sally on a Sunday morning news program. While I knew I had no shot at swaying her Bible-over-the-Constitution-any-day approach to government, I hoped that I might at least appeal to the better judgment of the growing number of Oklahomans — and Americans — who have grown weary of a theocratic approach to dictating who is and who is not afforded life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Without question, the proudly self-proclaimed “reddest of red states” became a little less red and a little more lavender last week.

Before the ink dried on a federal judge’s ruling that Oklahoma’s ban on same-gender marriage is unconstitutional, Gov. Mary Fallin, Congressman James Lankford, Rep. Kern and others were screaming about the “sanctity of marriage,” the “traditional biblical definition of marriage,” and “will of the people.”

All of these arguments have no worth. The sanctity of marriage means very little in Oklahoma, a state whose divorce rate is always among the highest in the country.

As for the Bible’s definition of marriage, there are many from which to choose. But it’s the last one, the will of the people, which is most disturbing.

The misguided belief that the majority has the authority to dictate the rights of any minority is as wrong today as it was when the majority believed interracial marriage should be outlawed.

It is as wrong today as when the majority believed it perfectly acceptable to enslave African men and women for personal gain.

These elected officials and others like them are standing on increasingly unstable ground. And on the wrong side of history. They are crafting a legacy of intolerance, bigotry, and hatred. Thankfully, they are becoming fewer and fewer, as are the people who support them.

I see evidence of this every day. As more and more Oklahomans and Americans come out, the fear and mystery is subsiding.

National support is increasing at a pace we never imagined. And, ultimately, more people are recognizing that the Constitution is the basis of our government, not some carefully chosen passages of the King James Bible.

While the ruling in Oklahoma is significant for everyone in the LGBTQ movement, we can ill afford to rest upon our successes. We must continue to combat ignorance with facts, religion with the Constitution, and wrong with right. And the only way we can do this is by continuing to support each other state-by-state, issue-by-issue.

I am proud of my fellow Oklahomans and every other person in the march toward equality. Not so much for what we have done, but for what we are about to do together.

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