Annise Parker; the Mayor of Houston is a lesbian. That is the choice she made for herself. We Houstonians love her as both a person and as a politician. And that was why we elected and re-elected her into the hallowed Office of the Mayor of the City of Houston.
Annise Parker is first an American, and then a member of the Democratic Party. Being an American and a politician, I have no doubt in my mind that Mayor Parker is very familiar with the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America which prohibits the making of any law or decree or ordinance to abridge the freedom of speech of any U.S. citizen.
I am not an expert in American history. But I know a little more than the average Joe about the past of the United States. And from the little that I know, I can say that dating back to the early 20th Century, the only time an elected official have tried to suppress, through the powers of his or her office, the rights of other citizens to freedom of speech, is during the era of Joe McCarthy. Joe McCarthy was an eccentric senator from Wisconsin who saw almost everyone with opposing ideas to his as a communist or a communist sympathizer who deserves to be treated as enemy of the United States. And Joe McCarthy was a Republican.
Republicans are known for making laws to disenfranchise citizens from their voting rights just because they vote Democratic Party; they are known for thinking that only them have monopoly of wisdom and love for ole America, and of course, Republicans have this weird inkling that if democracy doesn’t work for them, then fuck democracy. Forgive my French. Why else would an elected official in Jefferson County, in the beautiful state of Missouri call for military coup d’état to remove President Obama from power?
Those kind of stuff are what Republicans are known for. It’s atypical of Democrats. Hence my surprise, the surprise of every lettered man, and the surprise of every constitutional law scholar at what Mayor Annise Parker is doing in the City of Houston, trying to be a ‘modern day authoritarian in a democracy,’ by demanding that preachers bring to her sermons they have written to preach in their churches for her approval [first] before they can preach it in their various churches. Because she want to filter anti-LGBT rhetoric [If any] from the sermons the preachers have penned down to preach to their congregation before they can go ahead and preach her approved version.
And that brings me to this question: who the heck does Annise Parker assume she is? The Holy Spirit of God who gives inspiration to a preacher on what to and what not to preach? At the height of his authoritarianism, Adolf Hitler never compelled Jews on what songs to sing and what not to sing while they were in the concentration camps. Why is Annise Parker who is no Adolf Hitler seeking to repress preachers in the City of Houston?
For analysis sake, let us say that as a member of the LGBT community, Mayor Parker is seeking to protect her own from harassment or the feeling of inferiority if some preacher should tell them that they are on a one-way ticket to hellfire or that they are repulsive and evil just because they happen to be in a sexual relationship with people of the same sex as they are.
But that is not the way to go about it.
Let us look at it this way. I am a Black man from Nigeria. And I am proud of my blackness and Nigerianess. Nobody can make me feel less human, less able, or less qualified in any way, shape, or form just because I am both Black and Nigerian. Not as if there is anything wrong with being Black and Nigerian. And not as if men of warped minds who chose to see something wrong in being Black and Nigerian haven’t tried to make me feel bad about myself. But I choose to feel proud about myself because I find being Black and Nigerian both beautiful and sexy. Because that is who I am. And of course, because that is how I was born. And that should also apply to every member of the LGBT community out there. You do not need the preaching for or against gayness to sway how you should feel about yourself. You should have your convictions about yourself and carry yourself with pride. You do not need Annise Parker or any other public official who is gay to metamorphose into a totalitarian in a democracy so as to pass obnoxious decrees to make you feel secure about yourself. Snap out of your pathetic self and embrace, love, and feel secure about yourself, by yourself and for yourself.
The Constitution of the United States prudently separates the church and the state. This is because of the lessons our founding fathers learnt from monarchical Europe. Whenever the state and the church are intertwined, freedoms of religion and of speech are eroded away. Subjects in the case of old Europe and citizens in our new world will be subjected to the religious leanings of our leaders in order to reap their entitled benefits from the government and preachers who do not agree with policies of the government and who dare preach against such will be targeted for punishment. Hence the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson and boys to separate the church and the state in order to guarantee true freedom for the individual. And hence the First Amendment to seal those freedoms.
President John F. Kennedy had to reassure Americans on a televised speech during his campaign for the presidency that though a Catholic, that the Vatican will have no say on how he run the government if he is elected president. And through the time of his God Damn America preaching, the local, state, or federal government never compelled Rev. Jeremiah Wright to change his preaching or subpoena his sermon. Not in any way. Because we live in America where the church and the state are separate entities. Because we live in America where our founding principle is freedom of speech, of religion and the rest. And because we live in America where people are intelligent and irrespective of what the preacher preaches or does not preach, are smart enough to make analysis by themselves and have the capacity to decide who to accept and love and who not to accept and love.
Annise Parker made the ill-advised move she made because she believed that what people hear in the pulpit matters to them and that they take it into serious consideration. So she convinced herself that if she allows pastors who preach against same-sex arrangements to continue to preach it, that in the long run, people in those churches are going to start heeding to their (preachers) teachings and start seeing gayness as evil. And possibly that those who are already gay will have a change of heart and turn straight. Hence her paranoia and the consequent action she took to muscle the church through the powers of her office.
But what this move accentuates is the perception that people of Houston does not have the capacity to make choices for themselves despite what they hear. It emphasizes that the person who is gay have no conviction about the practice he or she is engaged in and once they hear a preacher preach against their practices, that it’s gonna make them feel bad about themselves and maybe compel them to have a change of heart. But most importantly, it underscores the Mayor’s lack of grasp of what freedom, especially of choice is all about. Choice is when you hear two opposing information, ideas or argument about what you know you want, and despite hearing strong cases made against what you want, you still make your choice and stand by your choice. And that is conviction, Madam Mayor. Freedom is not the lack of opposing information, ideas, or voices. It is the presence of such.
Richard Loving, a white man in the heavily segregated Virginia, despite the state’s anti-miscegenation statue, despite the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, despite societal pressure, despite preaching in the pulpit by white pastors, and despite persecution, still went ahead and married his African-American wife Mildred. Not in the absence of all these, but despite all these. So if those practicing gay arrangements have the conviction that what they are doing is right, whatever a preacher preaches against their practice, it will not deter them from their practice or make them feel ashamed of it, it will only reinforce their conviction. And they will not need Annise Parker abusing the power of her office trying to suppress freedom of speech and telling preachers to stop doing their job – which is preaching the Word of God, not to please anyone or to be politically correct, but to instruct, to correct, and to reproof all that come under their voice.
I have to assume here that Mayor Parker’s fear of the pulpit are two-way – political and religious.
At the most, what those preachers she’s targeting can do to harm her politically is ask their parishioners to not support the policies of a lesbian politician because she is evil being a lesbian. I am merely assuming. But even if such is the case, were we not aware of the vitriol and open demonization of President Obama by a section of the American population when he was trying to pass the Affordable Care Act into law? They attacked his person, made him into Hitler, questioned his patriotism, and suggested that he was fraud, a Kenyan that forged his birth certificate in order to run for the presidency of the United States. Not just ordinary folks, but federal politicians, leaders of thought, captains of industry, and moreover, preachers. Did the president use his executive power to target and subpoena Americans living their First Amendment rights? Of course not. Did he allow the merits of the law to speak for itself and trust the majority of elected representative to give in to common sense? Yes he did. Annise Parker, the constitution has to be followed at all times, whether it works for you or not.
Religiously, the most preachers could preach against Annise Parker and any other member of the LGBT community is to say that they are bound for hellfire, hated by God, and are children of the devil. I am also assuming here. But even if they preach so, I have heard repeatedly and most churchgoers have also heard it over and over that “….the fearful, and the unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).” So?
Most, if not all of us, will check every given item on that list to qualify for eternal damnation. Yet, most, if not all of us, have sat through several sermons as these words of condemnation is preached to us, and rather than hate the preacher for being a preacher or try to shoot him down with any arrow in our bow, we bow down our heads in humility and repent to whatever extent our carnal mind permits us to. And Madam Mayor, that is the way to go.
Most politicians in democracies criticize despots like Kim Jung Un of North Korea and his likes for their authoritarian rule, but with their totalitarian proclivities in a democratic system of government, one can easily surmise that if they have had the opportunity those despots had, they would be much more worse than the despots were or are.
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees the freedom of speech, of religion, of the press and of the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Any politician that tries to abridge this amendment for whatever reason(s) is not fit for public office.
Let the debate continue…