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A Response to the Religious Right - Articles Surfing

As someone who believes in the existence of the sacred document of our democracy - The Declaration of Independence, I also believe in the rights of individuals who call America home. A favorite quote of mine was given by President Thomas Jefferson during his term as President, "The best principles of our republic secure to all its citizens a perfect equality of rights;" I believe that in a society that has for more than 200 years existed on the basis of freedom of religion, press, assembly, and speech, it is the right of all Americans to live out their lives in happiness. We as an American populace should come to exemplify the words which are so eloquently presented in the Gospel of Luke, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned."

We live in a world filled with suffering, we live in a world filled with anger and intolerance. As a people we need to come to understand that intolerance and division do not lead us to the calling of whomever our higher being may be, whether it be God, Allah, or one of the many Eastern traditions, it is imperative that we understand the necessity for compassion; the need for love; and above all the imperative nature of equality. I have much respect for America's religious leaders; however, what concerns me most is the fact that it so clear that Jesus or any form of a messiah would not want intolerance to be so manifest in our modern society. I pray that we as a state, that we as a country will come to live in harmony with one another.

In 2005, I established a Gay-Straight Alliance at Marlboro Central High School; I established this important support group and organization in the school district to ensure that no student would ever suffer the onslaught which I endured for nearly all of my secondary school years. Perhaps if the Lord were to step foot amongst us once again in some form, he would ask us why we are putting so much negative energy into a world already filled with a loss of hope. We are fortunate to live in a society which has for 200 years represented the ideal of liberty. If not for our court systems, African Americans might not have the right to vote; if not for our court systems, women might not be able to vote; Sir if not for our court systems, many Americans would not only be viewed as second class citizens, but more importantly our society would not emulate what distinguishes us from other countries around the world -- America is the home of the free. I will continue to offer prayers for equality; to pray and ask the Lord to teach every man and woman's heart to show them what compassion is, to allow them to feel love for all humankind.

The religious leaders of our country are not simply in conversation about marriage rights, but rather they are doing exactly what the Bible tells them not to do -- "Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned." On the NY Christian Coalition web site (http://www.NYChristianCoalition.org, Rev. Bill Banuchi, Executive Director), under the link titled "Same Sex Marriage" it states, "Probably everyone knows at least one gifted, talented human being who has lost his life due to AIDS brought on by a homosexual lifestyle. Why aren't we suing the Gay and Lesbian Task Force" -- this statement on the NY Christian Coalition web site is so troubling, because it implies deep-seated misunderstandings regarding the AIDS epidemic, but also once again the author, Rev. Banuchi, is "judging" people, especially through his direct correlation between homosexuality and AIDS. For the past couple years of my life, I have worked tirelessly to educate my peers about the important nature of equal rights for all. In another paragraph in the same section of Rev. Banuchi's web site he writes "The average gay man has over 100 partners during his lifetime," this is an entirely inaccurate statistic, that is not only obviously from a biased source, but also does not correctly reflect reality.

What concerns me most about Rev. Banuchi's web site, is his statement "There is no such thing as an ex-Puerto Rican, or an ex-African American, because we can't change that, but there are thousands upon thousands of ex-gays who have changed their behavior and lifestyle proving, that they weren't born that way, and that change is possible -- with God's help" -- has it ever occurred that perhaps gay Americans "pretend" to change their sexual orientation only to conform to what our society and leaders such as Rev. Banuchi are demanding and preaching? I myself even went through a period in my life very recently, during which I attempted to change/modify my sexual orientation, but I will be the first to tell you -- that ever since I was little I had known who I was as an individual. Sadly, like others when I came out in 2005, I was faced with an onslaught of letters to the editor attacking me as an individual (Of which one was authored by Rev. Banuchi, but I like to think that something higher gave me the will to love and forgive). In response, I went into a period of depression, I became saddened... I felt as if society had deserted me -- so what did I do? I pretended that I was a heterosexual; however, the reality is that the Lord would not want us to pretend, because he created us in His image and He made each of us unique; therefore, I can tell you that homosexuality is not a learned-behavior, but rather it is an innate gene.

Lastly, I ask and pray that each and every person will find a space in their heart to understand the necessity for equal rights. Rev. Banuchi asked me in an email if I had ever been "born again" -- I have been "born again," except my revival is a recognition of the imperative nature for me to continue to be a voice for equal rights -- to continue to offer compassion to all without judging or condemning. "For I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was an outcast and you took me in," it is important that we as a people come to appreciate and understand the diversity which the Lord has created. We must offer compassion to each other and live amongst one another with tolerance and respect. We never really do know what form the Lord will take amongst us, because in reality he is in each and everyone of us. As I continue to serve as an advocate for equal rights, I will pray for for all that we will one day share the joy in accepting all of the Lord's creation and the beauty of its diversity.

In closing, Deuteronomy 10:18-19 states, "God loves the stranger, providing food and clothing for each one. You too must love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt," so let us come to live out the calling of God... let us come to see the light which he has so clearly kept lit for thousands of years -- let us reach out -- let's speak for equality -- let's speak for compassion -- let's love one another, because at one time we were all strangers in the land of Egypt. Agape.

Submitted by:

Joseph T. Amodeo

Joseph Amodeo, 19 years old is a student at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Throughout his life, he has focused on ensuring equal rights for all without exception. In 2005, Amodeo established a Gay-Straight Alliance at his high school in southern New York State and went on in that same year to run for elected office in the 9th District of Ulster County, NY. "Instinct Magazine" selected Joseph as one of the '25 Leading Men of 2005' and "The Advocate" named Joseph one of seven 'Future Gay Leaders of 2006.' Joseph has also been profiled in "InsideOUT Magazine," and has written a multitude of articles regarding equality, which have been published in magazines including "The Advocate" and "InsideOUT" as well as online periodicals including Campus Pride.

Joseph is currently enrolled in a bachelor degree program at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, where he is studying religious studies, history, and political science. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, American Society of Church History, National Council for the Social Studies, and the American Political Science Association.



Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).


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