Of course, I celebrate yesterday's US Supreme Court ruling which legalised gay marriage across all states. This is a significant historical moment for the US which despite being developed and wealthy, struggles with the gaping wide between what it pretends to be and is not as the self-proclaimed leader of democracy and civil liberties and freedoms. It also symbolises hope for the struggle for equal rights in other countries.
Societal prejudice, repression and hatred of individuals who orient themselves homosexually is rooted in religious beliefs. Why would a modern, 21st century state be concerned with what law-abiding, peaceful citizens do in their private lives? And, more over, how does a secular state come to ever deny rights of citizens to marry whomever they want? But we fool ourselves into believing that even the most modern state is secular and free of religious prejudice.
Religion is ultimately about the control of sexuality and women's bodies and reproduction. Societies and states have organised themselves around ideas, norms and values that are partially derived from dominant religious beliefs .
Religion has also been used to justify atrocities: slavery, racism, segregation, apartheid, colonialism, wars, wars in the the name of nationalism, violence against women, destruction of the environment, and repression of women. As we acknowledge and rectify past injustices and their legacy, we move away from religion in our public spheres, which ultimately also limits the space in which privately held backward beliefs can be harboured and practiced.
The Supreme Court's ruling yesterday represents a milestone in a long history of modern states' unshackling of prejudices and systematic violence based on religious beliefs. This is the societal evolution we are lucky enough to witness and celebrate.
Religion alone cannot be blamed for all oppressive and inhumane ideas, beliefs, and practices. Extreme political ideology has also caused much conflict and suffering. The destruction of the environment is due to a large extent to human greed and, a limited idea of progress.
As human beings continue to evolve as a civilisation and, if we can learn anything about the human need to control others, there will always be a tension between personal freedom and human society's desire for authority and grand sweeping ideology.