The strength of the American Solidarity Party will always be our passionate defense of our four principles of respect for life, social justice, environmental stewardship, and a more peaceful world. However, it can also come from how we respectfully argue our positions on other issues that challenge our communities. Here former ASP Chair Matthew Bartko offers some thoughts on the relationship between the ASP and LGBTQ+ people.
By Matthew Bartko
I believe the American Solidarity Party is pro-LGBTQ+ people. The American Solidarity Party is a broad coalition filled with diverse people from many different faith traditions and none at all. If you get to know the people in the party, you will find a variety of positions on sexual ethics and questions about the nature of gender and sexual identity. However, what you will not find is anyone opposed to human rights. In order to become a member, all of us have had to affirm our belief in the sanctity of human life, the necessity of social justice, our responsibility to care for the environment, and the possibility of a more peaceful world.
The very first bullet point in the Solidarity Party platform is, “We must build a culture and enact laws upholding the equal, innate and inviolable dignity and rights of every human person from conception to natural death.” In other words, we must not dehumanize anyone. In the civil liberties section of the platform, the Solidarity Party affirms “[t]he principle that all persons have equal dignity and are entitled to nondiscriminatory treatment regardless of race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.” All those in the LGBTQ+ community are fully human and deserve to have their humanity respected. The Solidarity Party is passionate about protecting access to the polls, courts, housing, education, employment, and credit for ALL people, including those who are “L,” “G,” “B,” “T,” “Q,” or “+.” No one should have to live in fear of violence or discrimination, let alone the disproportionate and completely unacceptable violence and harassment faced by the LGBTQ+ community.
Some will say that if we do not enthusiastically support one policy or another, then we are bigoted and hateful. I believe we all need to come to such conversations with nuance and respect for the inherent dignity of the other person. Significantly, the American Solidarity Party acknowledges both the civil liberties of those in the LGBTQ+ community and the civil liberties of those whose religious convictions may lead to tension with that community.
Toward that end, there is a plank in the section of the platform on marriage which states that we support “[l]aws that protect religious institutions, small businesses, and private individuals from civil or criminal liability for refusing to participate in activities contrary to their belief in marriage as a secure union of one man and one woman.” Unfortunately, this line has caused a lot of pain and a feeling of rejection in some of the people I have spoken with. I seek to reassure them that we don’t only believe in religious liberty in regards to marriage, but in all areas of life. It is important to me that we communicate our commitment to protect the ability of individuals and private organizations to refuse to participate in any activities contrary to their religious practice—not just those related to marriage. Everyone shares the same civil liberties. They must be protected for all of us.
Party members may debate whose rights are under greater threat or the definition of marriage; they may debate theology, ethics, philosophy, and scientific evidence, but they do not debate the sanctity of human life or the inherent dignity of every person. I want to send a message to those in the LGBTQ+ community: We see you. We see the challenges you face. And while we do not have complete consensus on how to help, we do have complete consensus that you are valuable, dignified, worthy of respect, and worthy of equal protection under the law. In those areas, we will stand in solidarity with you.