Reza Aslan urges Muslims to embrace LGBT rights: ‘Either we are all equal, or the whole thing is just a sham’
In an open letter to fellow Muslims, religious scholar Reza Aslan defended the Supreme Court’s historic same-sex marriage ruling, saying that discrimination against gays is no different than bigotry expressed against their own faith.
Written with Hasan Minhaj of The Daily Show, the two men pleaded for acceptance of the LGBT community, comparing bigotry faced by sexual minorities to looks given by average American citizens to Muslims on the street.
“We’re writing to you about the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage in all fifty states. The good news is that a whopping 42% of you support marriage equality, as do both of our Muslim elected officials in the United States Congress,” their open letter began. “One even serves as vice chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus! There are many faithful gay and lesbian Muslims in the US and we love and support all of them.”
The two went on to point out that a Muslim saying same-sex marriage would bring about the destruction of the U.S. — the way that Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee did — would likely lead to them ending up in Guantanamo.
They then turned to what it is like to be a minority fighting for acceptance.
“When you are an underrepresented minority—whether Muslim, African American, female, etc.—democracy is an all or nothing business. You fight for everyone’s rights (and the operative word here is “fight”), or you get none for yourself. Democracy isn’t a buffet. You can’t pick and choose which civil liberties apply to which people. Either we are all equal, or the whole thing is just a sham.”
To make the point about bigotry against the LGBT community, the two men called on Muslims to think about their own experiences as a suspect minority.
“Think about the way people look at your hijabi sister or your bearded brother when they walk through the mall. Think about the grumbles and stares you get at airports. Think about the vitriol that’s spewed on you by your own elected political leaders. That’s how your LGBT brothers and sisters feel every day of their lives. Are you okay with that?”
“If you can’t find it in your heart to accept gays on principle, think about the country you want to live in,” they wrote. “After all, the constitution that just ensured the rights of LGBT communities is the same constitution that protects our mosques and community centers, that keeps our Islamic schools open, that allows us equal rights and privileges in the face overwhelming hatred and bigotry from our fellow Americans. You can’t celebrate one without the other.”