Annette Gross

Responding to a Facebook homophobe

Filed By Annette Gross | June 09, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality

Facebook is an interesting phenomenon. By using it, you can reach people automatically and get feed-back right away. Though geographically diverse, it has enabled my extended family of cousins to stay in close contact. Last week, one of my cousins voted "Yes" in an online poll which asked readers if they approved of gay marriage. She posted a notice of this on her Facebook homepage. In response, someone responded at length to chastise her and set forth his view as to why he did not approve of gay marriage. For the protection of the ignorant, let's call him "Dick." Some of the highlights of Dick's post included statements such as:

where would you draw the line after allowing gay marriage:

  • Biggemists should be allowed to mary more than 1 woman?
  • Pedophils want to mary minors?
  • Sex maniacs want to mary their pets?
  • Obama will nominate a horse to the senate like in Rome?

I responded to Dick by first mentioning that Spell-Check is probably included on his computer. Then I shared with him what I thought was so objectionable about his post. My sister, Marlene, did the same and told him that she felt sad for him. Dick responded to us by writing that gay marriage would not make a difference to his life.

"just like a gang rape or mass murder in SF or MI does not change my life. The people voted, including in CA, not to allow it and keep some basic values like the family (a woman and a man) in place. Can we agree to disagree? By the way, In both Judaism and christianity, the penalty for such activity was death by stonning - which was not a common penalty. I wonder why."

At this point, my cousin Steve, an attorney in New York, and a gay man who married his husband five years ago in Canada, jumped in. Steve tried to speak to Dick as a fellow Jew and as a human being. As I read his response, I couldn't help feeling so proud of him. Unfortunately, Dick did not "hear" what Steve had to say. But I want to share Steve's response. I think it says it all.


While I would normally refrain from responding to a third-party post on someone else's home page, I found the need to respond to your statements overrode my sense of etiquette. I apologize to my cousin in advance for using her page as a forum. That a murder or rape of another human being would not impact on your life speaks volumes as to the size of your heart and your sense of your place in the wider community of mankind. For that, I, like my cousin Marlene, am sad for you. A murder or rape inherently involves the victimization of one human being at the hands of another. A same-sex marriage does not involve victimization. It is the opposite of such criminal acts in that it is an expression of love and commitment by one human being for another. As I don't know you personally, I do not know if you are married or not. If you are married and your own expression of love and commitment for your spouse would be undermined and diminished by a similar commitment made by two other people, then the commitment in your own heart is fundamentally flawed. If you truly loved your spouse, then you would wish the same love and commitment for all people. I know that my [straight] cousins' relationship has always been a wonderful role model for my own.

As a Jew, I am troubled by the expression of ignorance and bigotry directed toward any minority group based merely upon their membership in that minority group. This kind of narrow-minded ignorance feeds and fuels holocausts. As a child, I was sufficiently privileged to have belonged to a congregation led by a Rabbi who recognized the importance of protecting the civil rights of all human beings. He marched with Martin Luther King Jr. to oppose segregation and degradation based upon racial animus. Our beloved Rabbi had been in the Europe of the Nazis and understood that if the civil rights of the weakest citizen is not protected, then no one is safe. I'm sure that you remember that millions of homosexuals faced the same fate as Jews at the hands of the Nazis: just another minority whose rights could be abrogated at the whim of a biased and hatefully ignorant majority. My experiences have taught me that homophobia on the other hand comes out of a fear of something secret within one's own heart rather than out of experience with another.

The issue of same sex marriage is one of fundamental Human Rights. Article XVI of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as adopted by 58 member states in 1948 and now translated into over 250 languages, provides:

'Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.'

At the time this Declaration was made, many states' laws in this country still prevented miscegenation: marriages between people of different races. Such laws were declared unconstitutional by our courts because ignorance on the part of the majority does not justify the deprivation of fundamental human rights to the members of a minority. Our Supreme Court struck down laws against homosexual conduct in 2003 recognizing that the LGBT community had too long been victimized by prejudice and ignorance. State Courts in many jurisdictions have come to recognize that heterosexual-only marriage laws perpetuate the same prejudices and ignorance. Perhaps you should consider that our northern neighbors in Canada have respected same-sex marriages for over 5 years and Canadian society remains in remarkably good shape. I do not believe that the Canadians have sanctioned bigamy or pedophile rape, even though allowed in the Bible. While I am sure their Parliament, just as our Congress, could always use an injection of "horse sense", they have not elected any horses to office. (We cannot say the same --as the hind-part of a horse previously occupied our executive mansion.) As a society, our view of the commandments has evolved, but love thy neighbor as thyself still rings true.

As to your remaining biblical concerns, I would hope that, before you begin casting stones, you check yourself: Dick, please be entirely certain that all of the fabrics in your wardrobe and household are of made from single fibers and not blended in any fashion: It would be a shame for your community have to burn you for owning cotton-polyester blend shirts. If you have ever owned a pair of Hush Puppy shoes, you may also be in jeopardy because of the handling of the skin of a dead pig (Leviticus XI:7). I'll leave it for you to have the discussion with all those big tough football players regarding their transgressions. If you have a daughter, I hope that, despite the provisions of Exodus XXI:7 and the current economic downturn, you will not be selling her into slavery. Despite such biblical allowances, our 13th amendment prohibits slavery. Now Exodus XXXV:2 states that those who work on the Sabbath should be put to death. I hope that you won't be heading over to smite the clerk at the 7-11.

The Old Testament does tell the story of the love between David and Jonathan and that of Ruth for Naomi. I don't recall any passages where any of them were stoned. Actually, Leviticus XVIII: 22 does not call for the stoning of homosexuals, nor does it per se prohibit homosexuality. (Stoning was not that uncommon a biblical punishment: It would have been proportionate punishment should you plant different crops side-by-side.) Moreover, you can rest assured that as an honorable God-loving Gay man, not only do I abhor shirts with polyester blended in, I have never lied with womankind as with mankind!

There you have the crux of this response: As a Jewish Gay man who married his love legally in Ontario and again spiritually before clergy, family, and friends, I take personal offense to your comparing my marriage to bestiality. God has blessed me both in the loving family to which I was born and the one created for me by that marriage and I value and seek to protect both those families. My cousins honor our Jewish traditions when they show the openness of their heart and stand up for the minorities among us. Perhaps you can look inside yourself and see what it is that has brought you to your fallacious conclusions.

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This should be labeled "How to win in one easy step." Seriously, it's that good!

David Steinberg | June 9, 2009 3:50 PM

Wow ... I just love my friend Steve. What a mensch!

Love this Annette! Especially the part where you named him "Dick".

Annette Gross Annette Gross | June 10, 2009 11:17 AM

Thanks Lori. However, I didn't give him the name "Dick" - my cousin Steve did. :)

I'll bet you just called him a dick, Annette. *evil grin*

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 11, 2009 7:29 AM

Steve! Go to the head of the class!

Yes Bil - "dick" and a lot of other names too! Someone needs to slap that guy!