Sunday, November 5, 2006

Open Letter: No On Amendment C

An Open Letter from Bro. William George Myers, O.S.L., PO Box 547, Faulkton, SD 57438

I join South Dakotans Against Discrimination in inviting you to vote NO on Amendment C on November 7, 2006.

It is my opinion that this piece of legislation brings shame upon our State when elsewhere in this nation candidates and States are seeking to provide for the security of rights for all individuals and eliminate all possibility of discrimination against our fellow citizens.

Discrimination is a kind of emotional terrorism that is denigrating, demeaning, and debilitating. Legislated discrimination is society expressing itself at its worst. When I was growing up in South Dakota nearly seventy years ago, I learned from my parents, in our little rural school, in our small but excellent high school, in church, and in my community that all God's people are created equal, that we live in a nation where we are at our best when we respect each other and help each other to live to our best potentials, that government and law are designed and facilitated to protect all the citizens and their natural rights, and that it is not the place of the law to discriminate against anyone. Those are values that have guided my life, my lifestyle, my personal principles, and my relationships with people in many places in this nation and around the world throughout my career. I have been positively proud to say I learned in South Dakota how to be a good citizen of the nation and the world.

(this letter contiues in the comments)

1 comment:

  1. (the open letter continues...)

    As a result of my South Dakota value formation, I have been able in my lifetime to work for civil rights for Native Americans and Blacks, to work for the elimination of the "glass ceiling" that prohibited women from rising to levels of their abilities and their callings, to support women's right to choose abortion [even though I don't necessarily believe in abortion], to assist the Church in truly opening its heart and doors to the fullness of God's blessing and call upon the world, and to work to help enable our nation to be a leader for peace-making in the world. And I know my caring and inclusive spirit resulted from the caring and inclusive values I learned growing up in South Dakota.

    It has become increasingly obvious to me in the last few years and most assuredly in recent quasi-Christian interventions in political processes that some priorities have changed in my beloved home State. I sadly observe that a mean-spirited influence is menacing the wholesome values of South Dakota in the guise of righteousness, godliness, and goodness. It is coming from religious sects and groups who see their mission as forcing all of society and all of the population to live according to their particular interpretation of what is right and what is wrong. It is coming from secular organizations that would like to see the government dictate what is the "right" way of life for each of us. It is coming from such groups as the South Dakota Family Policy Council who would take it upon themselves to judge and determine how each of us should live our lives.

    No matter how the amendment's proponents tend to try to mask their intentions, I agree with published comments in the Rapid City Journal [October 24, 2006] that the proposed amendment is a vindictive attempt to discriminate against gay people, that the amendment isn't necessary because there is already a South Dakota law prohibiting gay marriage, and that writing such discrimination into the State's constitution in this way is a vicious means of fostering hatred toward those who don't live the way Amendment C supporters think they should.

    The audacity to believe that any one of us or any group of us has the right to dare to legislate the personhood or the lifestyle of any other person or group according to our own narrow thinking or to minimize by legislation the human rights of any other human being or group of human beings according to the philosophy of any given segment of society or culture is completely contrary to the free will theology of Christian Scripture.

    I cannot imagine what Scripture or history Representative Elizabeth Kraus [R-Rapid City] is perusing when she says "For 6,000 years, we've known that marriage has been defined as one man and one woman, which is, realistically, the ideal way to raise a child." [Rapid City Journal, October 24, 2006] Judeo-Christian history is not that old. No ancient historian, secular or religious, supports that view; ancient history and Hebrew Scripture [The Old Testament] are awash with examples of families with multiple wives, and Judeo-Christian ancestors and leaders grew up as children of such households. So it is kind of a farce, isn't it, when Christians such as Tina Panzirer of Mitchell proclaim, "I go back to the Bible and rely on that for the way I should live"? [Sioux Falls Argus-Leader, October 16, 2006] There are contemporary societies and cultures throughout the world where households are made up of more than one wife and mother, and children grow up quite well-adjusted. Let us not be swayed by emotional misrepresentation of truth or history or Scripture and faulty religious scruples, and let us not take this debate and this action where it need not go.

    Let us be sensible about what we add to our State's Constitution; amending it to discriminate against both straight and gay persons and families is wrong. This proposed amendment is not as simple as it may seem, and it could have far-reaching implications, even for heterosexual couples. The potential unintended consequences of the way it is written have devastating possibilities. Amendment C essentially allows the government to not only interfere with our personal lives, but also with our State's domestic abuse laws, personal contracts, health insurance, and other issues. Domestic violence issues are a case in point. Amendment C, as it is written, could prevent police and judges from applying important laws to any unmarried couple, putting victims at serious risk.

    It has been pointed out by Jon Hoadley, Executive Director of South Dakotans Against Discrimination that the term "quasi-marital" in the amendment gives the government a "blank check" to interfere in our personal lives and to ask the most personal questions when trying to figure out if a business contract or a legal contract should be valid or disallowed. The wording leaves open the possibility of agreements between unmarried people being challenged in court and then ruled invalid by a judge reading the Constitution as prohibiting recognition of such relationships.

    Consequently Amendment C is opposed by many credible groups, organizations, and individuals. The South Dakota AFL-CIO opposes it. The National Association of Social Workers South Dakota opposes it. The Dakotas Conference of The United Methodist Church opposes it. The South Dakota Diocese of the Episcopal Church opposes it. Tribal governments, various women's groups, and domestic violence advocates across the state oppose it. I oppose it!

    Churches and other groups may teach whatever concepts, philosophies, and directives they choose. But they have no right to legislate those teachings via the Constitution of the State for all of us. We are a State diverse in population, in beliefs, and in practices. It is possible for us to respectfully live together without judgment and without legislated philosophical and spiritual interference in each other's lives.

    Discrimination highlights the least caring behavior of any community toward its neighbors. It is not a characteristic by which any of us would want our great State to be identified.

    I urge you to vote NO on Amendment C.