This week the Kansas state house passed a bill allowing individuals, groups, and businesses to refuse service to gay couples if homosexuality is contrary to their “deeply held religious beliefs.” Because ugh.
When people discuss events like these, there’s often a dialogue about “oppression” and “intolerance” where those terms are confused with “being uncomfortable with change” and “having people disagree with you.” It goes something like this:
“Oppressed” Kansas Christian Legislator: “As a Christian, I believe homosexuality is a sin and marriage is between one man and one woman, so I am against same sex marriage.”
Person Giving the Side-eye: “Right. And you’re entitled to your religious beliefs and your opinions. But not all Christians believe what you do, many Americans aren’t Christians, and our country separates Church and State. So “this one guy’s church says so” isn’t a solid basis for a law governing everyone in the entire state.”
“Oppressed” Kansas Christian Legislator: “But what about me? What about what people like me believe? You preach tolerance, but you’re seeking to change the law in a way that I believe is fundamentally wrong. You’re intolerant of my point of view. You’re discriminating against traditional values!”
I find it vaguely disturbing that the “oppression of traditional values” argument gets as much traction as it does in this context. Because it’s bullshit.
Systematic discrimination of anti-same-sex marriage folks on par with the proposed level of systematic discrimination against LGBT folks in Kansas, would look something like this:
Activist with No Sense of Irony: “I believe everyone should have equal rights regardless of sexual orientation. I also believe that “I want to deny you rights because JESUS” is a bigoted, morally wrong point of view.”
Super-traditional Person: “Um, okay… As someone who thinks marriage should only be between one man and one woman based my religious beliefs, I disagree. But you’re entitled to your point of view.”
Activist with No Sense of Irony: “I’m gonna push through a law that says no one has to serve people with “traditional values” if these values are against their belief system. So, you Super-traditional Person? You can’t eat at my restaurant because I think you’re homophobic. And that couple over there with sweater vests and Duggar hair? I’ve never actually met them, but my traditional-dar is going off like crazy. Their kind aren’t welcome at my place of business either. Go to Chic-Fil-A or whatever it is you people do.”
Super-traditional Person: “Wow. That’s over the top nuts and kind of sounds illegal.”
Activist with No Sense of Irony: “My religious texts clearly say “love thy neighbor” and you’re not. You are freaking me out and I don’t like it so I’m gonna make a bunch of laws that make denying your rights okay. IT’S CALLED RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. LOOK IT UP IN THE CONSTITUTION.”
LGBT issues are on the front-burner of our national consciousness and I’m glad about that, but I wish it wasn’t rhetorical free game to cast same sex marriage as somehow discriminatory towards or intolerant of other concepts of marriage.
As the saying goes, the fact that you’re on a diet doesn’t give you the right to deny the people around you a donut.