Thursday, August 2, 2012

Defining Intolerance

There has been a good deal of talk about Chick-fil-A and their recent declaration in support of traditional marriage and family units.  This particular comment sparked controversy from gay marriage supporters, especially from a few mayors of major cities who made public statements denouncing Chick-fil-A and even threatening to ban the company from operating within their city.

A friend of mine posted this picture quote that addressed an angle of this particular issue that I'd like to discuss.  Here it is...

Being intolerant is being intolerant, no matter what side of the argument you are on.

I know, I know... I've been known to make fun of picture quotes on occasion, but this one actually made me a little happy.  Why?  Because it is saying the very thing that I have been thinking since I heard about this entire incident.

How is it considered intolerant to hold traditional views on marriage and family, but it's not considered intolerant to (attempt to) ban the free enterprise of business just because you don't agree with the personal views of the leaders of that company?

Ever since the issue of legalizing gay marriage became a hot-button topic, it has seemed like the opposing parties have failed spectacularly at being able to discuss the issue with civility and respect.  

Being a supporter of traditional marriage and family values, this is how I see things:

(Please note that while I speak in a generalizing fashion, I do not speak for everyone who believes as I do.  I'm simply speaking based on my own beliefs and conversations that I've had with others who also support traditional marriage.)

For many proponents of traditional marriage, opposing gay marriage isn't about denying anyone anything. Many of us simply feel as if our very core values are being challenged and spurned by society. If society decides that believing in traditional marriage and family units is unacceptable, and that everyone should accept same-sex marriage as part of the norm, then that infringes upon our right to freely exercise our religion (where the basis for this belief generally comes from) and teach our children those same values. There have already been incidents of pastors being arrested for civilly preaching against homosexuality, and gay marriage isn't even legal in most states. This is why many traditional marriage supporters are so vocal about their position on legalizing gay marriage; it does affect everyone. It is also important to note that marriage (in any form) is not a protected Constitutional right, whereas the free exercise of religion is.

While I do recognize that there are plenty of bigots and hateful people out in the world who are preaching against homosexuality, failing to support gay marriage does not automatically make someone one of those people.

Why have I taken the time to explain this position?  That is where the intolerance comes in.  With understanding comes tolerance.  I believe that a large part of why many gay marriage supporters are so hurtful towards those who don't support gay marriage is simply because they can't see beyond the "equality issue" (which is a discussion for another day) or think that anyone who disagrees with them is automatically homophobic.

But understanding goes both ways.  As supporters of traditional marriage, we also need to realize that the other side is simply trying to do the same thing that we are trying to do; they are standing up for what they believe is right.

We all need to learn to see what others see.  We don't have to agree, but we should strive to understand and to be respectful of our differences.

What do you think?  Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to chime in.  Just make sure that you keep all comments respectful.


Anon said...

A couple of things -

1) From looking through the handful of people arrested for preaching against homosexuality I noticed that most were one sided articles for the preacher. It'd be nice to get something from BBC or the AP to get a balanced opinion on the matter. The one I did find about an arrest that the BBC covered actually had a lot of people coming to the defense of the pastor that actually disagreed with him and calling for stricter rules on who the police could arrest on that matter. If you read the original article you get a distinctly different impression of what went down.

2) How is having same sex marriages infringing upon your right to freely express your religion? You can still teach your children your family values.

3) Assume that I create a religion that says that heterosexual marriage is against God's word, should all heterosexual marriages be illegal now? Does having heterosexual marriages prevent me from teaching my children that they are wrong?

4) Why is it important to note that marriage is not a protected right? What does that have to do with anything? Are you commenting on how people say that it's their right to get married? If that's the case why can interracial couples get married? The same arguments were made against interracial marriages back in the 60's and no one seems to mind them now. Why is that?

Tiffany said...

It is important to note that marriage is not a protected right because it is important to note that the free exercise of religion IS. With that said, when people bring upon the ultimate argument that "gay people should be allowed to marry someone of the same gender" vs "religious people should be able to preach against homosexuality", the latter argument ultimately wins because marriage is the lesser of the two rights.

The argument about interracial marriage is invalid here, as the debate is about making marriage only between a man and a woman, or redefining it to be between any two consenting individuals.

I may address some of these other points that you bring up in future points, as they are currently off of the point. Thanks for weighing in. :)