… One Heterosexual Nation, under God, with Liberty & Justice for Straight People

The other day I found myself at a Veteran’s Day observance that included the Pledge of Allegiance. I stood up, put my hand over my heart and recited the oath.

I have to admit that it had been awhile. At first, I didn’t think I would remember the all the words; but I made it through.

Unfortunately, while saying the pledge, I had a troubling revelation.

The pledge was an empty promise. It spoke of ideals and rights that America doesn’t represent. It affirmed lofty notions and high principles that we don’t even try to live up to.

The original Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy. A Baptist minister and Christian Socialist, Bellamy had originally considered using the words “equality” and “fraternity” in the salute, but deemed them too controversial because so many factions in our “indivisible” nation opposed equal rights for women and African-Americans. And, though Bellamy was a minister, the early versions of the pledge were secular and did not include the words “under God.” The phrase mandating that we prostrate ourselves and our nation before a Judeo-Christian deity wasn’t introduced until June 14, 1954.

In its current form, the Pledge of Allegiance has been amended four times. It was originally composed with prevailing winds in mind and similarly revised along the way. As I recited the pledge on Veteran’s Day, it occurred to me that it’s time for another revision.

For starters, we don’t constitute one nation united under God any more than we comprise one nation united under a red, white and blue barber pole. Beyond that, the term “divisible” far more accurately describes us than its exalted counterpart “indivisible.” And all the “liberty and justice for all” malarkey—we shouldn’t even go there.

Saying the Pledge of Allegiance always sounds nice, but reality doesn’t rest in a cadence. It exists in our efforts to fulfill the ideals that the pledge affirms. If we’re not working towards the fruition of those noble goals, the pledge is meaningless. And if any of us are disqualified or denied his or her right to pursue those ideals, our meritorious oath is hollow.

Here in Texas, the ignoble 2005 “Marriage Amendment” to the state constitution, which forbade the recognition of same-sex couples and prohibited any branch of government from offering them relationship-based benefits, denied a viable, productive segment of our community the application to and enjoyment of some very basic tenets of “liberty” and “justice.” And the recent repeal of Proposition 8 in California was another glaring travesty. To grant our friends and neighbors a right and then take it away via mob rule clearly evidences the fact that we are perpetually “divisible,” especially in regards to sexual orientation.

Ultimately, our so-called ideals of “liberty” and “justice” and “indivisibility” are simply PR myths we like to trumpet and parade around about for the sake of appearances. When it comes to truly establishing and maintaining such aims, we fall woefully short.

But we could fix a lot of this mess by revising the last line of the pledge. If it read “one heterosexual nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all straight people,” it would obviously allow us to seem less counterfeit.

A gay family friend of mine serves in the U.S. Military. I often wonder how he feels risking his life, serving his country, knowing that his neighbors back home shun him–but doing his duty anyway.

Could there be any better way to demonstrate our appreciation for his service than granting him the same rights and privileges that all Americans are supposed to enjoy? Why should he be asked to fight for ideals that don’t apply to him? Why does he put his life on the line for a bunch of hypocrites?

The U.S. Military’s current policy on homosexuality is “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” If it isn’t brought up, the brass doesn’t have to address it.

Perhaps the same principle should be exercised regarding the pledge. It we don’t recite this flawed oath, then we don’t have to delude ourselves or lie to the victims of our charade.

Native Texan E.R. Bills is the author of Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious and Texas Oblivion: Mysterious Disappearances, Escapes and Cover-Ups. Read other articles by E.R..

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 21st, 2008 at 8:21am #

    pledges, constitutions, other writs cannot be understood, only interpreted.
    and even in interpreting a writing of any kind whatsoever, one is not independent but interdependent.
    in fact, no human being is an independency but an interdependency.
    once people learn that they r interdependent and not a by-a-thread-hanging (in)dependency, we just might obtain a positive change. thnx

  2. John Hatch said on November 21st, 2008 at 2:23pm #

    Since the first Pilgrim stubbed his toe on Plymouth Rock, America has been in a state of self-delusion. Land of the free? What about the Native genocide and slavery, followed by decades of lynchings and racist repression?

    American ‘Exceptionalism’? Exceptional for what? For pretending you’re the greatest while you invade and pillage and murder. Spend trillions doing so while denying a social contract.

    You brainwash your children from the earliest age and force them to join the cult of magical thinking that most never escape. And then you place your hands over your hearts and recite nonsense. Home of the depraved.

  3. TheFafon said on November 21st, 2008 at 8:15pm #

    In most of California, many government organizations have opted out of saying the pledge of Allegiance, primarily due to the “Under God” phrase (which everyone recites incorrectly, but that is irrelevant). Thus, we are mostly removed from one of the last remaining relics of Fascism and WWII Imperialism that pervaded our nation.

  4. DavidG. said on November 21st, 2008 at 9:43pm #

    John Hatch, you speak harshly but truthfully. You expose the lie that is America, the fantasy world that most Americans live in.

    How can 300 million people be so deluded about themselves, about their country? Are they all on drugs?


  5. bozh said on November 22nd, 2008 at 8:57am #

    i’d say 98% 0f amers r not deluded but misled/disinformed. i’v been there.
    if one swims in ocean of lies, one may not ever reach the shore. thnx

  6. AaronG said on November 23rd, 2008 at 5:46am #

    ”The other day I found myself at a Veteran’s Day observance that included the Pledge of Allegiance. I stood up, put my hand over my heart and recited the oath.”………………it was at this point that you lost me. I’m appalled that you can construct an entire article discussing petty side issues, yet you gloss over the fact that you actually recited the Pledge of Allegiance like a sheep!

    By worshipping a militaristic power like a drone, you effectively condone the slaughter of thousands of defenseless people. I’m sure the target audience of your article can defend themselves with the lobby they currently have. I’m not kept awake at night wondering how your gay family friend soldier feels about his situation with the ”brass”. However, I am worried sick about the Iraqi/Afghan kid he is about to line up in the crosshairs.

    By the way, are terms like ”serving his country” and ”risking his life” actually just sanitised oxymorons for ”killing”. One’s sexuality is irrelevant. This is the military, it’s a killing machine. They don’t sell meat or bake bread like normal jobs – they are in the business of killing people. Your friend must have known this before he enlisted – don’t paint him as the innocent party. The ”we must support our troops” mantra is a dangerous one.

    Your article is hypocritical. Metaphorically speaking, you give Adolf the Heil Hitler salute, then you comment on the fact that his uniform is not pressed correctly.

  7. bozh said on November 23rd, 2008 at 9:27am #

    5 yr olds r tabula rasa. they believe or evaluate as true anything any authotarian teaches.
    this is actually happened. my wife lifted her hand for permission from her elementary teacher to pee.
    he told her to sit dwn. she peed her pants. she was never the same again.
    so strong was her respect for or fear of authority that she simply did not go to do this natch.
    i had been not much better in responding to authority. i responded w. rage and swearing.
    but still feared the authrity. so strong can indoctrination may be.
    yet many people balme the victims of authoritarianism. thnx