During a recent twitter thing (I’m not sure if I should call it a debate, discussion or something else as no real communication can happen if you’re limited to 144 characters) I was trying to make it clear that both sides of the “gay rights” debate are trying to do the same thing. They are both trying to have society reflect a specific set of morals. One set is more inclusive than the other (and it’s not the group you think).
First let me define what I see as the common ground between the two groups. Both sides believe in the inherent value of humans regardless of race, gender, creed and sexual orientation. There are outliers in both camps to be sure. There are “Christians” (though I would argue that they aren’t truly converted to Christ) who believe that homosexuals should just be eliminated just as there are gay activists who would make Christianity illegal and punishable by death. I’m not talking about either group. I’m talking about the vast majority who wants everyone to treat other people with respect regardless of these differing beliefs or characteristics.
Both groups also largely believe in not discriminating based on these things. Where the biggest schism arises is in the realm of marriage. One side sees someone refusing to, for example, do the flowers for a gay wedding as the same thing as refusing to sell flowers to a gay person. In the example of the Washington state florist who was recently fined for not providing flowers for a gay wedding, there was clearly a difference. The woman, who I will not name here, had sold flowers to the gay couple in question many times. In fact she considered them friends. She congratulated them on the wedding but told them because of her faith she could not participate in the wedding. By every account I’ve ever heard providing flowers for a wedding is not just selling flowers. It involves a lot more than that (I’m not a florist so I can’t be sure what). And that level of involvement was not something her faith would allow. Had the men come to her shop and said, “We’re having a party and we need flowers,” and gave her a list there would have been no conflict. So at least in her mind there is a difference.
The argument is that if you don’t want to provide flowers for a gay wedding you can’t provide them for any wedding. You’re providing a service and you can’t choose who you can sell that service to. However that standard is not universally applied.
Perhaps a little abstraction will help explain why I think that position is flawed. Let’s say the Catholic Church wanted to make a film about the benefits of reparative therapy (the idea that you can change your sexual orientation back to straight if you’re gay). They have a lot (and I do mean a lot) of money. They decide to approach Ian McKellen and George Takei to star in the film (and willing to pay what they made on their latest films. Should they be legally forced to provide their services to the production? Or to bring it down to an even more similar sphere, if you’re a gay caterer should you be forced to cater the production? I say no. Sure you’re not doing it because of the religion beliefs of the people involved but so what? I’m sure they can find a caterer who will be willing to do it (to be clear I’m not asking if you would do it, only if you should be forced to do it).
And here’s where we get back to the beginning. Both groups want to have a certain set of social norms or morals. One group wants people to tolerate each other’s differences. One group wants you to accept their view of what society should be and what views are acceptable and they want the force of the government to make you comply. I’ve said for years that the fight for gay marriage is not about rights. In California, where I live, homosexual couples had all the same rights available to them (through domestic partnership) as married couples. The only difference is the word marriage. They are seeking cultural acceptance. I don’t mean that in the sense that they want culture to accept that they exist or are worthy of dignity. I mean that in the sense that they want society tell them they’re ok. They want all of society to tell them there’s nothing wrong with them (and there’s something wrong with everyone). They also want the government to stop people who would tell them otherwise.
I think everyone should be free to do whatever they want to do (as long as it doesn’t hurt others obviously). If you don’t want to cater my wedding because of my faith (be it because you’re gay, Muslim, atheist, whatever) that’s ok. Someone will. If you want to stand on a street corner and tell everyone Christianity is wrong, more power to you. But I expect the same. If I want to not provide services for your event for whatever reason, that’s my call. If I want to stand on a street corner telling everyone homosexuality is wrong (I don’t, but if I did) I should be allowed to.
Personally I don’t care if the vast majority of people like me. I don’t particularly want them to dislike me, but even at that there are more important things to worry about. This is not true for the gay activist. If you don’t celebrate their homosexuality then you have no business in public life. Think about the ramifications of the philosophy that says, if your opinion is different than the government you should not be allowed to be in business.
I was told that I was fighting for discrimination. No I’m fighting for rights. If you don’t want to associate with me you have that right. Heck there’s a part of me that thinks if you own a restaurant and you don’t want to serve me for one reason or another (be it my faith, my skin color, my gender, whatever) you should be able to. I know there was a place and a time where that philosophy wouldn’t work. However we don’t live in the south in the 1950s. In 2015 you’re just as likely to lose business if you discriminate. I know I wouldn’t go to a restaurant that wouldn’t server someone for whatever reason. I also wouldn’t use, say, a wedding photographer who wouldn’t shoot an interracial marriage. So why the difference in gay marriages? Well any bias based on race is a personal bias. It has no basis in anything outside of themselves. However there are legitimate religious reasons to take issue with a gay wedding. Those exist outside of any personal biases. I’ll use myself as an example.
Personally I don’t care about a person’s sexual orientation. I’ve always had gay friends. My brother is gay and so are some of my oldest friends. I’m not uneasy around gay people because they are just people. However I am also aware that the Bible is pretty clear that homosexuality, or more specifically having sex with someone of the same gender is sin. It’s not worse than other sins (for example the guy who lies, or the guy who sleeps with every girl he sees) but it is in the list. Does that make a gay person less valuable of a human being? No. Does it mean I should shun them? No. Would I judge a Christian baker who baked a cake for a gay wedding? No. I’ve heard good arguments on both sides of that. Would I attend a gay wedding? Honestly I don’t know. I value my relationships with all of my friends but I also don’t want them to feel as though I’m endorsing their behavior. I would have the same qualms about helping a straight friend move in with their girlfriend.
I don’t claim to have all the answers (at least not yet…) but I think since we are a country that is, at least theoretically, designed to give people their inherent freedoms we should always default to that. Even when it would make us uncomfortable or inconvenienced. It shouldn’t matter to me if you marry your girlfriend or just shack up. It shouldn’t matter to you if I won’t bake the cake for your wedding, you can find someone else who will, lots of someone elses. I hear a lot how the society has changed and that those who oppose same sex marriage are on the wrong side of history. If the momentum is in your favor why do you need the government to force people to comply? You can easily get the services elsewhere there is no harm done except to your pride, and your pride isn’t the government’s job. Someday I’ll write something on the fact that the gay community has chosen pride as its moniker. They have “Pride Parades” not gay pride parades, not gay rights parades but PRIDE all by itself. Pride is easily the worst and hardest to break sin. It’s the sin that caused an angel to fall and a world to be tainted with sin. Pride comes before a fall. I think that it’s interesting that it is their call to arms.
With that said, a quick blurb about gay marriage. Today marriage is primarily about two people loving each other and not about building a stable home for raising children. It has been this way since no fault divorce became law in the 1960s. Up until that point to divorce you needed one of the three As (Adultery, Abuse, or Abandonment). Marriage was seen as a permanent institution. Now if you don’t feel connected to your spouse you just divorce them and find a new one (not that it is always done that way but that’s the law). You also see this in the push for gay marriage. The rallying call was that all love is the same. It wasn’t about building families, raising kids etc. It was about two people loving each other. So I don’t see why the government is involved at all. The government has no business and no interest in who I love. Be that a wife, a man, two wives or whatever, it’s not their business. So we need to abolish government involvement with marriage entirely. Parental rights/responsibilities don’t require marriage, and property rights can be handled other ways. And for clarity sake, this isn’t a view I’ve gained since the Supreme Court’s decision. I’ve had it for a while.