Friday, November 6, 2009

To Maine, with Love

Today in the English composition class I teach, we studied Frederick Douglass's 1852 speech, "What, to a Slave, is the Fourth of July?" In it he says he is not going to make an argument, which he proceeds to make:
Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it.
and then:
Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it.
and then:
What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman cannot be divine. Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may - I cannot. The time for such argument is past.
After the vote in Maine this week, I ask:

Would you have me argue that gay and lesbians are people? That their families are families? That their partnerships are true marriages? That their love is love?
Would you have me argue that people are entitled to love whom they love? That they are the rightful deciders of whom they shall spend their lives with?
What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that hate is not divine, that God does not hate? That whis is not love cannot be of God. Who can reason on such a proposition? The time for such argument is past.

Now I do believe we should stand with Bishop John Shelby Spong, who said:

Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

2 comments:

Joy said...

Beautifully said.

Carrie said...

Mmm hmm. Nice comparison.