One of the commenters on my last post helped me to see a major shortcoming in what I said previously regarding the level of discourse surrounding controversial and important issues, specifically regarding marriage equality for LGBT individuals. I want to be very clear about what I mean when it comes to respecting those who oppose marriage equality.
When we respect another human, we do not engage in ridiculing or belittling them. We do no name call. We do not tell them to go f**k themselves. We do not say they are inhuman.
But respect does not require that we allow them to continue without confronting them. I do not think we should simply agree to disagree, and move on with our own lives with our own point of view. “Well you have your opinion and I have mine, and that’s ok,” manages to avoid conflict, but that is not my goal. It may appear to be kind and respectful, but it is not: it is silence and mindlessness.
I have no intention of staying silent on the matter of marriage equality: denying civil rights on religious grounds comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of the function of the US government at best. We live in a society where calling LGBT individuals devious, evil and threatening to society (to use the most diplomatic examples) is perfectly acceptable. Many in the church believe there is hope for these individuals to have their sin forgiven and their orientation changed, but simply do not understand how such treatments are at best ineffective, and often damaging. (Partially due to the fact that Exodus does not accept that being gay is an identity, but rather an activity, lifestyle or struggle; thus their idea of being ex-gay does not have anything to do with changed identity. They admit they can change behaviors, but 99.9 percent of their ‘students’ do not experience orientation change.)
I do not want to encourage anyone to put down arms and walk away from controversy. The issue is far too pressing to abandon.
I want to stand up for equality, respect and the sacredness of being human: I cannot simply argue that these are upheld legally through marriage equality, but my actions and speech must also reflect and uphold these ideals.
Many of you may disagree with this approach. I hope I have presented my argument well and that it merits consideration. Of course I speak from a place of privilege on the matter. If you are interested in the matter and want to hear the opinion of someone who does not have the same privilege as I do, I highly encourage you to read this post from Justin Lee, head of the Gay Christian Network.
Ultimately, we must all follow our consciences.