Column: Moral disapproval isn’t a real reason to create legal barriers for the LGBTQ community
LGBTQ rights shouldn’t be controversial in a country with freedom of religion.
Dec. 07, 2018
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
Abigail Ruhman is a freshman journalism and political science major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about student life, politics and social issues for The Maneater.
This column is part seven of Abigail Ruhman’s “Twelve Gays of Christmas” series. Twelve Gays of Christmas is a twelve-column series about a variety of LGBTQ topics. During the holidays, members of the LGBTQ community are more likely to experience depression. By informing readers of the issues facing the LGBTQ community, these columns are meant to support the community this holiday season.
When I was younger, I used to argue that LGBTQ rights shouldn’t be a political issue because the Bible never actually stated that homosexuality was a sin. While I still firmly believe this, there was one major issue with that assessment: the Bible isn’t our Constitution.
While America does has a foundation within a religion, this nation was also built on the premise of religious freedom. Christianity snuck its way into the documents that established this nation. This lead to centuries of people addressing America as a Christian nation, and it shows.
All but two presidents elected into office were officially affiliated with Christianity, with most falling into two denominations of the religion, according to Pew Research Center. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it showcases how deep religion runs within the U.S.
This became an issue when the Bible began to be used to justify discrimination. Previously, the Bible has been used to justify slavery and sexism. More recently, the Bible has been used by Jeff Sessions to justify family separations at the U.S. border.
One of the major topics that the Bible has been used to defend is homophobic legal actions. Going back to a time before the 2015 ruling on same-sex marriage, there was a level of public disapproval that controlled the legal outcome.
Coming up with a reason to deny same-sex marriage that doesn’t involve religion can be really difficult. In fact, Indiana University sociologist Brian Powell asked hundreds of individuals why they opposed same-sex marriage, in order to see if the answers aligned with the main legal arguments.
A majority of people responded with a variation of, "because I don't believe God intended them to be that way." While the legal side focused on public policy, individuals tended to focus on the religious aspects of same-sex marriage.
The general public can believe that, but it shouldn’t impact the legal aspect. This is because of one word: Animus.
Animus is the idea that the law has no public interest and is driven into popularity by the majority’s moral disapproval as a way to cause a minority group harm. In this case, by denying the LGBTQ community the right to marry, same-sex marriage supporters claim the law is harming them.
The other issue is that general moral disapproval shouldn’t dictate the law. If that were true, a lot of things still wouldn’t be legal. For example, kneeling during the national anthem is legal and protected under the first amendment, yet 47 percent of American voters disapprove, according to Quinnipiac University.
Calling for moral approval on legal issues isn’t fair to the LGBTQ community because a majority of moral arguments stem from teachings of the Bible. This didn’t just affect the fight for marriage rights back in 2015. Today, it is also affecting health care and adoption rights.
In multiple states, legislation has been passed that allowed child welfare agencies to not place children in LGBTQ homes because of religious belief. In addition, Texas courts denied health care rights to the husband of a male city employee because of his sexuality, suggesting the Supreme Court decision in 2015 didn’t extend to other marriage rights.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The U.S. has no official religion, meaning that Christianity and the Bible should not be dictating legislation.
While other religions also have issues with LGBTQ rights, they simply don’t have the control over the government the same way that Christianity does. Other religions aren’t the main legal barrier for LGBTQ rights.
Freedom of religion allows Americans to practice whatever religion they want, but it doesn’t give one religion the power to punish or dismiss minorities. Moral disapproval doesn’t mean that the LGBTQ community should suffer. The Bible does not act as a governing document for the United States, and society must stop treating it like it does.