Posts Tagged ‘same-sex marriage’
Urban Outfitters landed in some hot water earlier this week when consumers started to question company standards after an “I Support Same-Sex Marriage” T-shirt mysteriously vanished off shelves in California. Yesterday, Urban Outfitters reached out to us to comment on the situation: “The T-shirt was pulled because it was not selling,” a spokesperson for the company told us. “This is a common practice because sales space is so valuable, especially in this challenging economic climate.” See, the trickle-down effect of the economy? T-shirt sales are suffering, people! “The move was in no way indicative of a political agenda or our personal beliefs. In retrospect we wish that we had held onto it as a show of support.” That said, don’t expect them to balance the situation by returning the shirt to shelves. “We wouldn’t bring back the same T-shirt because it didn’t sell well. But the head merchant is open to finding other products that support gay marriage and carry the same message but will be more popular with our customers.”
Meanwhile, the spokesperson also confirmed what our commenters speculated: Glen Senk, the CEO of the parent company, Urban Outfitters, Inc., is an openly gay man who has been in a committed relationship for over 30 years. However, Richard Hayne is still the founder and current chairman and does indeed have a record for supporting right-wing Republicans who are against abortion and gay rights. Lest we get cynical and think Senk was appointed to divert attention from Hayne, let’s hope instead that he got the job based on his merits and that maybe, just maybe Hayne’s has changed his views a little. We can hope, right?
Published Tuesday, December 2, 2008
As a journalist, I can look at issues with the perspective of a political scientist. I have been consuming a large swath of news for about 15 years. I have met and interviewed thousands of people, from famous politicians to unsung, hard-working farmers. I have discovered intimately how civics and politics work in various parts of the country. And I read a lot of American history.
I have been able to look at all these experiences through the lenses of a simple Iowa kid who grew up with a Rural Route 3 address, served his country in the Army and then attended a land-grant university, which is where my journalism trek began.
Therefore, I can look you straight in the eye and tell you this: Even though same-sex marriage took a beating at the ballot box on Nov. 4, there will come a day when same-sex marriage will be allowed in every state in America.
How do I know this?
Just look at the past. America expands the rights it gives to its people, but fights for rights seem to take two steps forward and one step back. Nov. 4 was an example of one step back on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Let’s look at an example. Many people know little about the fight for men’s suffrage.
At the country’s founding, most rights, such as the right to vote, once belonged mostly to land-owning white males. This left 85 percent of the American population without the right to vote or a voice in politics for 60 years after the ratification of the Constitution. It took many political fights forward and back, even the jailing of politicians and people fighting for change, but the spark of liberty couldn’t be doused. The defeat of Andrew Jackson in 1824 for president, even though he won the popular vote, moved the country’s sentiment closer to expanding voting rights. When he won in 1828, he was considered the first president to be a man of the people. Still, the cause took many more years of political wrangling.
Through amendments to state constitutions or court rulings, eventually the property requirement was dropped. Some states had wealth requirements that were dropped. By about 1850, the right to vote was granted to all white men. With the post-Civil War Reconstruction amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the right to vote was granted to all men. If you want more on this issue, read about Rhode Island legislator Thomas Wilson Dorr.
The story of women’s suffrage is more well-known. Women struggled for the right to vote, with many political setbacks, but the right was granted with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
These two tidbits of history are merely the right to vote. Think of the battles for other rights. The Irish once were widely discriminated against. The Mormons were chased out of Illinois. The civil rights movement is still in our rearview mirror. Blacks, Jews, Catholics, immigrants, uneducated, veterans, disabled and other minority groups have all had to fight for rights to bring this country to where it is today.
Veterans, read about the Bonus Army Conflict of 1932. Cavalry and infantry soldiers charged on World War I veterans camped at the National Mall to the astonishment of onlookers. This was how America treated vets?
Interracial marriage was once illegal in many states. Richard Loving married Mildred Jeter in the District of Columbia, then returned home to Virginia. Loving was white, and Jeter was black. Talk about government in the bedroom. They were rousted from the bed one night by police, charged and later found guilty of miscegenation, a felony. Miscegenation is the mixing of races. The judge even wrote that God didn’t intend for the races to mix.
The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in the 1967 ruling for Loving v. Virginia the court struck down their conviction, opening the door to interracial marriages.
Many of the men and women who today want to keep gay people from having the same rights as they do at the founding of this nation would not have been able to vote, let alone have access to many other rights.
I am not arguing in this column in favor of one side or the other in the issue of same-sex marriage. You can make up your own mind on the issue.
I am saying that by looking at American history from a political-science perspective, it is clear that right of same-sex couples to marry indeed will be granted someday. It could take 20 or 60 years, but it will happen. Opponents can’t stave it off forever.
When it does, churches won’t be forced to marry gay couples. They still will have religious freedom. But same-sex couples will be able to go to a courthouse and be granted full marital status by their state government.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ― California officials are planning to investigate whether the Mormon church gave an accurate accounting of its role in the campaign that succeeded in getting a same-sex marriage ban approved in the state.
The action by the California Fair Political Practices Commission came in response to a complaint filed two weeks ago by a gay rights activist.
Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, accuses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of failing to report the value of the work it did to support Proposition 8.
Roman Porter, the agency’s executive director, said Monday that the decision to open an investigation does not mean staff members have determined there was any wrongdoing, only that Karger’s complaint merits further inquiry.
A representative from the Salt Lake City-based church could not be reached for comment.
The first amendment of the US Constitution lies the foundation of the idea of separation of church and state. As the face of the US has changed over the years, this has become a principle with more importance. The US is made up of many religions, and should preserve all of the beliefs of the varied faiths.
The Christians are stating that we are going against their religious beliefs by allowing gay marriage. Their biggest objection being that Homosexuality is a sin, according to the Bible. But what about other religions? How do they view same-sex marriage?
In Pennsylvania, which is considering an amendment to ban same-sex marriage, Zen Buddhist priest Kyoki Roberts, had a letter published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, stating that the amendment “is in direct violation of my religious beliefs as a Zen Buddhist priest”. He continued with “code of ethics guides my actions toward kindness, compassion and generosity and not toward anger, hatred and bigotry. … It is time we take down (not put up) the signs saying ‘No gays allowed’.”
And in January 1996, at a Zen Buddhist conference held in Hawaii:
A ZEN BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE
ON SAME-GENDER MARRIAGE
On October 11, 1995, some religious leaders gave testimony
to the Commission on Sexual Orientation and the Law in support of same-
gender marriage. It was one of the most moving meetings of the Commission.
Of the approximately 9 speakers, three submitted written testimony
(two Buddhist and one Lutheran). I have retrieved their testimony from the
archives and will post each on to the internet. The first is appended below.
Robert Aitken served much of World War II as a prisoner of war of
the Japanese; one of his captors introduced Robert Aitken to Zen Buddhism.
Today Robert Aitken heads the western region of the United States.
Robert Aitken’s Written Testimony
To the Commission on Sexual Orientation
and the Law, October 11, 1995
I am Robert Aitken, co-founder and teacher of the Honolulu
Diamond Sangha, a Zen Buddhist society established in 1959, with centers
in Manoa and Palolo [macrons are over first a's in each word].
Our organization has evolved into a network of Diamond Sangha groups
on Neighbor Islands and in North and South America, Australia and New
Zealand. I am also co-founder of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and a
member of its International Board of Advisors. This is an
association whose members are concerned about social issues from a
Buddhist perspective. It has it headquarters in Berkeley, California,
and has chapters across the country, including one here on O’ahu, as well
as chapters overseas. I am also a member of the Hawai’i Association of
I speak to you today as an individual in response to the Chair’s
request to present Buddhist views, particularly Zen Buddhist views, on
the subject of of marriage between people of the same sex.
The religion we now call Zen Buddhism arose in China in the sixth
century as a part of the Mahayana, which is the tradition of Buddhism
found in China, Korea, Japan and to some extent in Vietnam. Pure Land
schools, including the Nishi and Higashi Hongwanji, as well as Shingon
and Nichiren, are other sects within the Mahayana.
The word Zen means “exacting meditation,” descriptive of the formal
practice which is central for the Zen Buddhist. It is a demanding practice,
from which certain realizations emerge that can then be applied in daily
life. these are realizations that each of us is a boundless container, a
hologram, so to speak, that includes all other beings. The application of
this kind of ultimate intimacy can be framed in the classic Buddhist
teaching of the Four Noble Abodes: loving kindness, compassion, joy in
the attainment of others, and equanimity.
Applying these Four Noble Abodes to the issue of same-sex marriage,
I find it clear that encouragement should be my way of counseling. Over a
twenty-year career of teaching, I have had students who were gay, lesbian,
trans-sexual and bisexual, as well as heterosexual. These orientations have
seemed to me to be as specific as those which lead people to varied careers.
Some people are drawn to accounting. I myself am not expecially drawn to
accounting. Some people are drawn to literature. I place myself in that
lot. In the same way, some people are attracted to members of their own
sex. I am not particularly attracted in this way. But we are all human,
and within my own container, I can discern homosexual tendencies. I keep
my checkbook balanced too. So I find compassion—not just for—but with
[with is underlined] the gay or lesbian couple who wish to confirm their
love in a legal marriage.
I perform marriages among members of my own community. Occasionally,
for one reason or another, these are ceremonies that celebrate commitment
to a life together, but are not legally binding. I have not been asked
to perform a ceremony for a gay or lesbian couple, but would have no
hesitation in doing so, if our ordinary guidelines were met. If same-sex
marriages were legalized, my policy would be the same. I don’t visualize
leading such ceremonies indiscriminately for hire, but would perform them
within our own Buddhist community.
Back in the early 1980s I had occasion to speak to the gay and
lesbian caucus of the San Francisco Zen Center. It was in the course of
this meeting that the seed of what is now the Hartford Street Zen Center
was planted. This is a center that serves the gay and lesbian population
of San Francisco, giving them a place for Zen Buddhist practice where they
can feel comfortable. A number of heterosexual women also practice there,
as a place where they will not have to deal with sexual advances from men
who misuse other centers as hunting grounds for sexual conquests.
The Hartford Street Zen Center flourishes today as a fully accepted
sanctuary within the large family of Zen Buddhist temples in the Americas
and Europe. It sponsors the hospice called Maitri, a Sanskrit term meaning
“loving kindness,” that looks after people suffering from AIDS. Maitri is
one of the significant care-giving institutions in San Francisco, and is
marked by a culture of volunteers who serve as nurses, doctors, counselors,
and community organizers in a large support system.
Historically, Zen Buddhism has been a monastic tradition. There have
been prominent lay adherents, but they have been the exceptions. In the
context of young men or young women confined within monastery walls for periods
of years, one might expect rules and teachings relating to homosexuality,
but they don’t appear. Bernard Faure, in his cultural critique of Zen
Buddhism titled The Rhetoric of Immediacy [underlined] remarks that
homosexuality seems to be overlooked in Zen teachings, and indeed in classical
Buddhist texts. My impression from my own monastic experience suggests
that homosexuality has not been taken as an aberration, and so did not receive
There is, of course, a precept about sex which Zen Buddhists inherit
from earlier classical Buddhists teachings. It is one of the sixteen precepts
accepted by all Zen Buddhist monks, nuns and seriously committed lay people.
In our own Diamond Sangha rendering, we word this precept, “I take up the
way of not misusing sex.” I understand this to mean that self-centered
sexual conduct is inappropriate, and I vow to avoid it. Self-centered sex
is exploitive sex, non-consensual sex, sex that harms others. It is
unwholesome and destructive in a heterosexual as well as in a homosexual
All societies have from earliest times across the world formalized
sexual love in marriage ceremonies that give the new couple standing and
rights in the community. The Legislative Reference Bureau, at the
request of this Commission, has compiled a formidable list of rights that
are extended to married couples in Hawai’i, but which are denied to couples
who are gay and lesbian, though many of them have been together for decades.
These unions would be settled even more if they were acknowledged with
basic married rights. A long-standing injustice would be corrected, and
the entire gay and lesbian community would feel more accepted. This would
stabilize a significant segment of our society, and we would all of us be
better able to acknowledge our diversity. I urge you to advise the Legislature
and the people of Hawai’i that legalizing gay and lesbian marriages will
be humane and in keeping with perenniel principles of decency and mutual
encouragement [mutual underlined].