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Liberty for all?

Ian Ronderos | Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Notre Dame’s refusal to recognize the Gay/Straight Alliance is a wretched disgrace that is based upon a gross distortion of the actual message of Jesus. The fundamentalists allege that homosexuality is a perversion, even if they try to cover it up with nonsensical rhetoric attempting to draw a false division between the state of being homosexual and the act itself.

The nature of an event is found within the occurrence of the action. It is within the homosexual act that the internal nature of the homosexual is expressed. If one was to be born such that they loved pasta, but never ate pasta, then he or she could not be said to be a pasta eater that observes abstinence from eating pasta. It is just as ludicrous to claim that one can have a certain sexual orientation and not express it. The two are inexorably linked.

The opponents of expanding full rights to gay students often appeal to Catholic doctrine or specific Bible passages. All religions are human attempts to interpret the divine’s attempt to communicate, and mistakes are always going to be made so long as we try to use human logic and languages to express the language of the divine. Desperately clasping a few phrases from the gospels and failing to acknowledge that these were written in the moral tradition of the Jews of the first century C.E., the fundamentalists fail to separate the divine from the human within the gospels.

Notre Dame is indeed a Catholic school and should not shed her roots within that faith, yet she also should not attempt to force her morality upon the student body. A moral code propped up under compulsion is one that exists only in the minds of the enforcers. The University should promote an open, liberated intellectual environment. By failing to acknowledge the rights of a certain group, the enforcers harm everyone by deflating the spirit of academic freedom that should pervade any such place that intends to promote a flowering of the human soul and intellect.

This school’s policy is one that conforms to the general ignorance and hatred that typifies America’s intolerance of her significant homosexual minority. Every citizen deserves the exact equal rights as another under the laws of our land. The refusal to grant precise equality is a sickening example of a certain fundamentalist view clawing its way into the state.

The essential reason that gay marriage is illegal is that the idea terrifies the evangelical right that pours vast sums of cash and votes into the Republican party. Afraid to lose the support or gain the ire of this critical demographic, both Republicans and moderate Democrats refuse to take up the issue and hide their cowardice behind a translucent veil of deceptive phrases like “the sanctity of marriage” or the “traditional definition of marriage.”

The very term “civil union” smacks of inherent discrimination. I will get to marry my wife, and a gay person will have a civil union. This logic sounds very similar to the “separate but equal” language of the civil rights struggle. The existence of marriages and civil unions is similar to having “white” and “colored” water fountains.This dichotomy of speech attempts to rationalize and euphemize the fact that the religious right has no real logical reason why gay people should not share equal rights of marriage; and there view is based upon dogged puritanism, a fear of change, and a blinding love of tradition.

The argument that activist judges are overturning the will of the majority by granting equal rights to homosexuals is as fallacious as it is dangerous. A democracy is not a tyranny of the majority, nor was it intended to be one by our founding fathers. If one should doubt this, he or she should read the Federalist Papers of Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison. The French political thinker Alexis De Tocqueville was most apt when said “If ever the free institutions of America are destroyed, that event will arise from the unlimited tyranny of the majority.” Pray we are not now planting the very seeds of the fall of the American Republic.

If anyone should be surprised that a heterosexual, former president of the College Republicans should write this column, he should not be. It is the sacred duty for every American to safeguard the freedoms of their fellow citizens. Citizenship is not a merely a legal status, it is privilege that comes with great benefits and obligations. One such obligation is to possess a fierce zeal for protecting the rights of all Americans. The body politic must prevent any minority from being trampled. Nations do not fall into the precipice of tyranny overnight, but only after the rock of liberty has been slowly chipped away one group or right at a time.

Ian Ronderos is a senior majoring in the Classics with a supplementary major in Ancient Greek and Roman Civilizations. He is the current president emeritus and chair of the education committee for the Notre Dame College Republicans. He can be contacted at irondero@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.