Today, at the San Francisco Federal courthouse, opponents of Prop 8 attempted to link the amendment, as well as the historic roots of homophobia and anti-gay discrimination, to the church. They also ushered in evidence that examined the heavy financial contributions that both the Catholic and Mormon churches gave to the infamous proposition in 2008.
During today’s hearing the challengers of Prop 8’s constitutionality called to the witness stand Ryan Kendall, a gay man raised within a fundamentalist Christian environment in Colorado. Kendall recounted his forceful coercion into Christian therapy under the guise of changing his sexual orientation.
He remarked, “I was just as gay as when I started”.
He then elaborated on the abuses he suffered as a gay youth. With tears in his eyes, he related physical assaults made upon his person by his mother after learning of his sexuality. He also spoke of the persistent bullying he was subjected to by his peers in and outside of school. Kendall further detailed his feelings of desperation and suicidal tendencies during this time, emotions that arose from being harassed by such continual bigotry.
Prop 8 opponents also introduced some compelling yet ironic evidence to their case today. They submitted video documentation of two former witnesses originally called to the stand by Prop 8 backers. The two individuals have since withdrawn from the case. In their video statements both witnesses, each considered to be experts within the realm of religion, affirmed, “that some religions have contributed to… discrimination”. (Maura Dolan, LA Times, 01/20/10.) (The experts full video-taped depositions can be seen here.)
With deep historic roots in homophobia, religion, in particular Christianity, has long had its hands deep in the persecution of gays over the last 1700 – 2000 years. In countries too numerous to list here, homosexuals were tortured, imprisoned, as well as burned at the stake for engaging or even acting in any way considered to be gay or questionable, as defined by the sets and standards administered by the varied churches of the time. In fact, historically in both Japanese and Chinese cultures, homosexuality was given little negative attention, even exemplified in its folk lore, until western exploration arrived and proclaimed such activity as against God, against Christianity.
As a reminder, Jesus Christ advocated open acceptance of all of God’s creations, and he marched long and hard for the forgotten, discriminated, and down-trodden. Perhaps a new title needs be created to label these particular dissidents from the teachings of Christ, because any sort of discrimination is considered to be very un-Christian like and against said Messiah’s teachings.
To quote a famous Christian martyr, whose words have been often been exploited, especially by the Catholic church for its own justifcations, “Crucify us; torture us; send us to death; wipe us out! Your injustice is the proof of our innocence!… The blood of the martyr is the seed of the church”. (Tertullian, The Apology)