Last Monday night I learned that it isn't only religious fundamentalists who don't care about the rights of LGBTQ people.
(Since this blog is read by people all around the world, some of whom may not be familiar with that term, it's an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning.)
I was deeply irritated when the Salem City Council voted 6-1 to approve a lease with the Salem Alliance Church for use of a church-owned building as a temporary public library while renovations are being made to the library at the Civic Center.
This has been a fascinating issue for me to be involved with, since it intersects issues that I'm interested in: the role of religion in society, politics, and human rights.
I started a "Stand Up for LGBTQ Rights in Salem!" petition that currently has 287 supporters. Feel free to sign it, if you like.
A key reason I decided to support the Salem Human Rights Commission, which opposes using the church-owned building as a public library, given the opposition of the Salem Alliance Church to same-sex marriage and same-sex sex, is that I don't see any difference between bigotry in the name of religion and bigotry in the name of anything else.
Bigotry is bigotry. If you don't support basic human rights for everybody, no matter their race, sex, gender identity, or whatever, you're a bigot.
I've had people on Facebook say to me in a comment, "What don't you understand about same-sex sex being a sin? It says so in the Bible." Hard to believe religious people can be so ignorant. The Old Testament was written by human beings in pre-scientific times.
So using the Bible as a guide to morality is absurd. As is using any other holy book as a guide to morality.
But even Christians should recognize that the Bible can be interpreted in various ways when it comes to same sex attraction. Today a gay man, Cary Renfro, left this comment on a post I wrote about the City Council's bad decision.
Brian, thanks for doing this blog.
First, the Salem Alliance minister either doesn't know his Bible very well or (more likely) is reading from faulty English translations. There are gay and lesbian people all over the place.
Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16-18), (Ruth 4:14-15)
David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-4; 1 Samuel 20:16-17 (their marriage); 1 Samuel 20:41; 2 Samuel 1:26)
Psalm 133, which is very short and begins "How good it is and how pleasant for men to dwell together in union!"
First gentile conversion was the gay treasurer of Ethiopia: Acts 8:26-39.
Gays can go to heaven: Isaiah 56:3-7
The story of Nehemiah, the eunuch (aka gay) handservant of King Artaxerxes who became the rebuilder of Jerusalem and the temple starts in Nehemiah chapter 2.
King Zedekiah’s gay (court official) Ebed-Melech, who rescued the prophet Jeremiah when Prince Malchiah and others threw Jeremiah into a cistern and he sank into the mud. (Jeremiah 38 - 39) The story ends with the LORD telling Jeremiah to go to Ebed-Melech and say: “Thus says the LORD of hosts…I will surely deliver you…because you have put your trust in me, says the LORD.”
Jesus, praying that men who love one another may be united with Him and God: John 17:18-26.
Jesus healing the Centurion's boyfriend: Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10; John 4:46-53.
SO much for all that. Look it up yourself, and do the translations yourself, and for goodness' sake use a decent English translatiion.
Now, this decision of the city council is quite upsetting to me.
If the property were owned by the KKK would the city be leasing it? No or yes? If you take that pastor's remarks and replace the word "homosexual" with any racial term or religious term such as Black person, or Irish person, or Jewish person - would there not be an outcry? and would not the city refrain from contracting with the organization?
(I put in Irish because at one time there were signs all over the country saying "no Irish need apply".)
How can the city justify this?
For those of us who can't use the temporary facility for whatever reason, please come to Chemeketa Community College library. Lots of parking, on the bus line, handicap accessible, linked to the full CCRLS catalog, and your Salem library card works just fine there. Open Monday thru Friday and even a lot of Saturdays.
I invite you to look at these four short videos I made of the people who testified in person at last Monday's Salem City Council meeting. I was the first to sign up, getting to the meeting early, so led off the three-minute public comments. The other three testifiers made some great points in heartfelt ways.