Michael Sam has now become the first openly Gay National Football Player, and of course the comparison between his struggles and those of Jackie Robinson has started.
The church has longed held that Homosexuality is a sin and therefore has been denied within the church population. As Christians are we to accept this human experience or are we to continue to defend the Christian faith? Now with Michael Sam acceptance into the NFL should we really care about his career, is this something that we should be concern about? To be honest Michael Sam induction into the NFL isn't something that has keep me awake at night, because we have always known that there are other players within the NFL that are living still in the closet with their sexual orientation.
Now comes the issue that disturbed me; the comparison of Civil Rights to Gay Rights and the comparison of of Michael Sam to Jackie Robinson.
Can we truly compare Gay Rights to Civil Rights?
First some of the differences:
1) Sexual orientation is different than race. Obviously. Race is something that one is born with; sexual orientation is probably some nature/nurture mix. We don't really know. Some argue that while race is innate and non-mutable, sexual orientation is a mere behavior or "proclivity" (and therefore, unlike race, it is something that one can change).
2) One can often tell a person's race by looking at him or her.Gaydar aside, one can not tell a person's sexual orientation by looking at him or her. The implications for discrimination based on physical appearance v. internal chracteristic differ.
3) Obviously, gay people as a group were never enslaved in the US. The effects of slavery and the government-sanctioned racism continue to linger today. No one should deny that, although people try.
4) There has never been a lynching of a person based on his/her sexual orientation.
5) Your homes where not bomb, nor were your churches burned to the ground or where your children ever killed based on their sexual orientation.
Now, some similarities:
1) The government and groups of people seek or have sought to deny us rights, privileges, and protections available to other citizens.
2) The hate that some people show towards homosexual is based on there inclusion in a particular group of people is the same. It is a hatred, a bias, a prejudice that is based on a single trait.
3) The black civil rights movement and the gay rights movement both seek to eradicate discrimination that is based on hate, bias, and intolerance. And, just as fewer people now than at the beginning of the civil rights movement are overtly racist, fewer people now are overtly homophobic than at the beginning of the gay rights movement. This doesn't mean that people don't still throw around the n-word or that people don't still call gay people fags and dykes, but I have to think it happens less frequently.
Michael Sam and Jackie Robinson
I'm not aware of all that Michael Sam has had to endure because of his sexual orientation but I don't believe he has been spit on like Jackie Robinson.
I don't believe he has received thousands of letters detailing the horrendous acts of violence planned for him, his wife, or his child.
And I also don't believe he has ever been deny accommodations base on his sexual orientation.
Generally, civil rights are the protections and privileges that a nation bestows upon all of its citizens. The concept of civil rights often comes up during debates about gay rights in the context of the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal rights. The purpose of this post is not to rehash constitutional arguments for or against the application of the 14th amendment to gay people. To me, the equal rights issue is clear and simple. Gay people deserve equal rights as guaranteed under the US Constitution.