Pennsylvania Representative Brian Sims (D), who is openly gay, was silenced on the floor from talking about the Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA. Why?
Because of "God's law."
Republican Representative Daryl Metcalfe said, "I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God's law."
Sims said his intentions were not to chastise detractors, but to highlight the importance of the pro-LGBT rulings. Other Democrats that tried to speak up for Sims were also blocked from doing so. At the end of the session, Sims spoke and criticized those responsible for blocking him.
"I can't call anyone a bigot, a homophobe or racist, but language used against me does not live up to the standards of this body," he said. Now there's some speaking truth to power.
Is that how our politics are truly being ran in 2013? You can't speak because my religion says you're wrong? That is not how the system ought to be working. Sims's forced silence is one of many signs that the attitude of politicians need to change from thinking inside the box to actually considering their constituents as a whole.
Religious perspectives have played a role in the battle for LGBT rights — though it continues to remain unfair that the beliefs of one group ought to be imposed on and affect law for the majority.
Such is the case with Texas State Senator Wendy Davis (D), who spoke for nearly thirteen hours without pause in order to stop Republican senators from passing sweeping abortion restrictions that would have closed almost every abortion clinic in Texas. Of course, abortion is another topic that is often debated with implications towards religious beliefs, either overtly or subtly present. While there is nothing wrong with having religious beliefs, it's an entirely different story when said beliefs become tools of oppression.
Remember back in October of 2012 when Vice President Joe Biden had his one-time debate showdown with then Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan?
A question on abortion arose, which elicited two very different answers. Ryan affirmed his personal belief of life beginning at conception and said that under a Romney/Ryan presidency, abortion ideally would be stopped except in special circumstances. Biden spoke of his Catholic upbringing and pointed out that his personal beliefs also dictated that life began at conception. However, Biden also said he refused to push his personal beliefs on women and others who think differently than he does.
That is the kind of politics that should be standard — so that people like Sims can speak freely, and women in Texas won't have to fear their rights to an abortion being taken away from them.