Does Legalizing Gay Marriage Threaten Religious Liberty?

"We are a living in a society that is on a collision course with a choice between erotic liberty and religious liberty”

...said the Rev. Bryant Wright while addressing Georgia lawmakers during his devotional to the State House earlier this year. Twice in his message he equated same-sex marriage to “erotic liberty” Rev. Wright (Rev. Wrong to those of us who believe in equality for all) is the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and currently pastors a large church in the Atlanta area. He is one of several fear-mongering, national personalities who have begun using the newly-coined, term “erotic liberty” to describe the sexuality of those who do not align with his personal religious views.

I laughed as I read the words “erotic liberty” out loud to my husband. I wondered how long it took Mr. Wright to come up with this name for his new imaginary enemy. Which equated same-sex marriage to something pornographic: I believe my husband and I were on our way to Sunday brunch at that moment, hardly a scene from a porn flick.

As I pondered the notion of erotic liberty, it began to play out in my mind like an old Western movie. Cue the mournful coyote howl, a guitar strum and the sound of horse’s hooves in the distance. A handsome cowboy in a tall, white hat enters the frame and slowly speaks in a Texas drawl:

Howdy folks. I just stopped in to warn you in case you hadn’t heard the scuttlebut. There’s a new name in town and Rev. Wright wants good peace-loving folks such as yourself to be shakin’ in your boots every time you hear the name Erotic Liberty. We’re being told that Erotic Liberty is the number one enemy of Religious Liberty. But the truth is, Erotic Liberty is just a made up name designed to scare you. There is no such thing. He’s always been known as Civil Liberty in these here great United States.

Everybody likes Civil Liberty. He’s a good friend, always looking out for your best interest. Folks ain’t scared of Civil Liberty and I reckon he’d be mighty upset if he knew anyone was trying to change his good reputation in our nation. Perhaps you’re wondering why Rev. Wright would do such a thing? Well I’ll tell you how it commenced: Some folks near the back forty got wind of the fact that Civil Liberty and Religious Liberty aren’t enemies but are both out to protect the rights and freedoms of people to live together and worship what they want. But they didn’t take kindly to Civil Liberty’s lookin’ out for the rights of GLBTQ folks - for those of you that don’t know, that stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender and Questioning or Queer folks - Good, decent people just like you. Yep Civil Liberty protects all them folks and more.

So them belly-achers reckoned that Religious Liberty should be fighting Civil Liberty like they was worst enemies. But since folks generally like Civil Liberty they thought they’d beat the devil to the stump and make up a new name that would likely be right distasteful in the minds of many. And so they began calling Civil Liberty by the name of Erotic Liberty.

I guess they think there’s something dirty and nasty about the word erotic. It makes them hot as a whorehouse on nickel night. Now I may not be the most educated man in the west, but I can read and I can use a dictionary. So I looked up that word. Did you know Erotic just means “relating to sex: Causing sexual feelings” now that ain’t so bad is it? I reckon most folks are rather fond of sex. I know I am. So it seems rather unlikely that Religious Liberty would be fightin’ sex. Seems to me that sex is a rather necessary means to growing your religious population. Now I know some folks think sex oughtent be enjoyable and that if it is, it’s downright sinful. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think you’re gonna be fightin’ an uphill battle if you want to keep folks from liking sex.

So I been trying to wrap my mind around their supposed conundrum. (found that one in the dictionary too, been itchin’ to use it) So I started making a list here of all the ways sex has interfered with my religious liberty:


Well that wasn’t much of list was it? On second thought, it ain’t impacted me one little bit. So I guess my “erotic” liberty (better known as sex) ain’t a interfering with your religious liberty after all. The last time I checked no one was hurt and no religions were impacted by the marital union of two cowboys. But the truth be told everyone wants the liberty to have sex so even if there were such a thing as Erotic Liberty, would you really want to shoot it dead?

So let me tie this up nice and tidy for you like I was ropin’ a calf. Here’s what really bothering uncivil folks like Rev. Wright They say they don’t like that erotic liberty, but the if the truth be told, they don’t like civil liberty...except when its in their favor. They believe that civil liberty only extends to people like themselves and not to GLBTQd folks who want to get married, have weddings, raise children and live and work in peace. So to Mr. Wright I say: Pull in your horns cowboy cuz If my memory serves me correctly, these here same objections were made about freeing our black brothers and sisters from slavery, permitting our women folk to vote and have equal rights and allowing an interracial marriage. Folks thought these were threats to their Religious Liberty back in the day. Some still do. But that’s why we have our good friend Civil Liberty.

So Mr. Wright and the likes, Let me tell you: The jig is up. There ain’t no such thing as Erotic Liberty and there is no enemy threatening your religious liberty.

If your religion can’t get along with all kinds of folks, you hang up your fiddle and find a new one, the one you got ain’t worth a hill-a-beans.

I suggest you find a religion that encourages folks to love others more than they do themselves. Now there’s a right good idea. I think even Jesus himself would approve of that.

- Joel Barrett is a GLBTQ author, speaker and host of the radio show Joel Speaks Out. Contact him at

#SCOTUS #gaymarriage #religiousliberty

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Joel Speaks Out

Kansas City, MO