story at Pink News, the couple are Pentecostal Christians who also oppose pre-marital sex and don't recognize the validity of civil unions, the closest thing to marriage the UK offers to same-sex couples.
Like most of Western Europe, the UK has moved way ahead of the US when it comes to LGBT rights. For several years now, countries applying for membership in the European Union, an economic coalition of European nations sharing the Euro as a common currency, have had to meet a laundry list of criteria in order to be approved for membership. One of the most important factors in membership consideration is the issue of Human Rights, including how that country treats its LGBT citizens.
Great Britain has been a founding member of the EU since 1993 (but continues to use the British Pound as its currency). What this means for British queers is that they enjoy a greater degree of civil protection and more legal rights than we do here in the good old USA. This story got me thinking about the meaning of the term "traditional values" and wondering, at what point do traditional values become outdated values?
Seventeen years is a long time. Most marriages don't even last that seventeen years. LGBT people living in member states of the EU have had more legal rights than US queers for so long, that homophobic attitudes are now considered outdated. Having "traditional values" is no longer a defense for being a bigot, even when your church tells you otherwise. We have much to learn from our European cousins.
One of the major differences between the US and Europe is that Europeans really get the concept of separation of church and state. Once upon a time, the church was all powerful throughout Europe. Kings and Queens were bound by church law under threat of excommunication. That was the primary reason King Henry VIII left the Catholic Church and founded the Church of England, now called the Anglican Church or Episcopal Church here in the states. Europeans know from first hand experience that when the church is involved in government, civil rights are the first thing to go.
We have seen a tremendous amount of progress here in the US for the LGBT rights movement and god knows we've got a long way to go, but it seems to me that defending religious-based bigotry by claiming to have traditional values is no defense. Standing up for the rights of the oppressed, fighting to overturn discriminatory laws that restrict the rights of citizens and fighting bigotry in all its forms is a traditional American value.
Using your religious beliefs as a justification for your bigotry is no longer a traditional value. It is cowardice. The word "homophobia" means an irrational fear of homosexuals or homosexuality. Many anti-gay activists claim they're not homophobes, they're just afraid of the homosexual agenda. They're afraid of what will happen to they're kids in a society that recognizes the inherent, god-given rights of all its people. They're afraid of what will happen if the "homosexual lifestyle" (whatever that is) becomes accepted as normal. Fear is what drives our opponents and, as Stephen Colbert illustrated at Saturday's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, they want you to be afraid too.
This country has a long, solid tradition of liberalism that we, as liberals, should not be hiding from. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, health insurance, a free press and a free public education, equal pay for women and the end of slavery were all radical liberal ideas that we now take for granted. Remember this when you go into the voting booth tomorrow. Do you want to backslide into the George W. Bush era of "traditional values", or do you want to embrace traditional American values? The choice is clear.
AARP Pride Information and Resources for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People, Families and Allies - AARP