Wednesday, February 26, 2014

When Religion Promotes Discrimination.....

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Sam came out to the entire country Feb. 9, and could become the first openly gay player in the NFL. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Michael Sam may be the first openly gay player in the NFL, setting off a firestorm among conservatives. Michael was a very popular student at the University of Missouri and he appears to have the complete support of his classmates. Not to mention being an outstanding football player. None of that matters to the gay-bashing crowd.

Some of you may remember GOP lobbyist, Jack Burkman, from his heyday during Bill Clinton's impeachment when he was on t.v. being outraged day and night. He must have missed those glory days because he's back with a new cause guaranteed to garner him lots of publicity. He has drafted a bill to ban gay athletes from playing in the NFL.

In his press release, Burkman said, "we are losing our decency as a nation. Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That's a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?"

He then went on to say - "if the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it."

This is wrong on so many levels, it's hard to know where to begin but I'll start with the Mom aspect.

I'm a mom, unlike Mr Burkman and I wouldn't be one bit worried about my son showering with a gay man. John played junior high and high school athletics. I assume that he showered with many gays whether known or unknown. He emerged, unmolested and still straight. If he encountered lascivious looks along the way, he never told me about them and  was evidently untraumatized.

Secondly, by the time you become an NFL player, you are a man yourself, not an innocent young boy, as Mr Burkman would imply. It ridiculous to think gays are out to seduce every man they see but even if they had that urge, their hulking major league football player teammates might not be the wisest place to start.

Third, no, Mr Burkman, it is not Congress' job to find morals for the NFL. Hell, we can't even get them to pass a budget, keep the country running, renew unemployment, raise the minimum wage, find a solution to immigration reform, etc, etc, etc.......the last thing I want them to waste their time on is the NFL's morals.

And if they were going to muck around in the NFL's value system, I'd much rather they paid more attention to the culture of bullying, which actually hurts people, than to whether they allow homosexuals. The NFL has assaulters and shooters and druggies and dog-fighters and drinkers and rapists (or at least people who have been alleged to have done those things) and you're worried about gay players? Seriously?

I have to say, I've been rather aghast at the kinds of backward attitudes some Americans (and not only Americans, as proven by Russia, Kenya, Uganda - yep, those are the countries we revere as our role models, huh?)  still have about gays and how willing they are to go to the mat and how vicious they are willing to be on this issue. It is second, I assume, only to abortion but actually I can come much closer to sympathizing with pro-lifers than the anti-gay crowd. I can understand them even if I don't agree.

We are currently waiting to see if Governor Jan Brewer is going to veto Arizona's draconian new law which allows virtually anyone from doctors to florists to motel managers to restaurants to ambulance drivers to refuse service to gays or even people who are with gays or, I guess, anyone who supports gays. (Can teachers refuse to teach gay students?) There are other states that have tried to pass or are trying to pass this same kind of legislation, including Georgia and Kansas and Missouri and many more. They are billed as "Freedom of Religion" laws. Congress has long loved these "give-laws-a-name-that-says-the-opposite-of-what-they-really-are" titles but this one takes the cake.

Legal discrimination isn't Freedom of Religion. It is the opposite of what religion is supposed to be. And anyway, civil rights trump religion in this country which is exactly the way the Founding Fathers planned it.

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