I was recently looking at the fast-growing list of candidates for the City Mayor of Clarksville for this year’s election. One of the names surprised me because of a letter to the editor that the same person wrote last year.

The letter in question was written in response to an advance article from The Leaf-Chronicle which told its readers of a Gay Pride festival which was celebrated on May 21st, 2005 (the first in Clarksville). This letter sparked a firestorm of more than two dozen letters that summer, most of which were overwhelmingly positive and in support of the event.

In his own words:

LETTERS: The Leaf-Chronicle, May 22, 2005, Page 14A

Don’t give impression gay lifestyle is healthy

On Friday I was so disappointed to read the article about the gay celebration. The promotion and celebration of sin should both sadden and alarm every resident of our county – particularly encouraging children to attend, and having adults give them the impression that the advancement of this lifestyle is healthy and normal, is disturbing.

The promotion of purity, decency and wholesomeness should be celebrated before our children. Elevating and trying to dignify what the Bible teaches is a perversion is shameful.

I would hope that our community would extend an attitude of grace for those caught in the deception of sin, but also use this occasion to teach their children that this sexual life style is not God’s desire for them. This weekend, let’s honor and celebrate purity, marriage between a husband and wife and virtuous relationships.

MARK HIEHLE

Yes, I am indeed saddened and alarmed that such rhetoric is still hurled from pulpits across the city. I’m even more saddened that people will embrace this kind of mindset that will hide behind their distorted interpretation of select few Biblical passages to condemn same-sex relationships. The concocted “attitude of grace” that the writer suggests is the same kind of twisted “love” that will tell a gay person that “God loves them” but their God-given sexual orientation is “a perversion” and “shameful.”

Let’s contrast this with the words of then-Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy during his campaign for the 1960 election on September 12th of that year. He was accused by “Christians” that he would allow the Pope to make his decisions for him. Kennedy, a devout Catholic, had a very sharp response to this accusation:

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute–where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote–where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference …

“…where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials–and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.“For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew–or a Quaker–or a Unitarian–or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim–but tomorrow it may be you–until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.“Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end–where all men and all churches are treated as equal …

“… where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.”

These bold and prophetic words came from Kennedy’s address to the ministerial association of Houston Texas. A person’s right to vote according to their conscience is a right that is mandated by the United States Constitution. However, one person’s freedom of religion ends when they seek to impose that religion or belief system upon others, no matter how different, small, or unpopular that minority might be. President Kennedy understood this. In fact, this is the heart of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This is also the heart of the modern gay rights movement, which achieved a major victory with the Lawrence v. Texas decision in 2003 from the Supreme Court of the United States. In that decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:

“The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to choose to enter upon relationships in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons…

“… The Nation’s laws and traditions in the past half century are most relevant here. They show an emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex.”

But oh, isn’t he is a liberal “activist judge?” Nope. He was appointed by President Reagan.

The reality is that there are a number of issues in this year’s mayoral election. One of them is where the candidates stand on issues of equality. Well, at least we know on one of them. And when I see that someone has displayed such a clear disdain for thousands of Clarksvillians, I question whether he or she deserves to be elected into public office.

Such would indeed be shameful.

David W. Shelton

 

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