Chick-fil-A, Derek Broes and Christianity; It’s Not About Gay Marriage, It’s About Authoritarianism, Stupid.
It’s not About Gay Marriage
Today Derek Broes in Forbes was making a puerile attempt to resurrect the tired semantic argument, civil-union vs. gay marriage. It’s the last socially acceptable home of anti-gay bigotry. Let’s not kid ourselves, despite Mr. Broes assertion that “I, nor <sic> most Christians I know, have never opposed gay couples having equal rights to heterosexual couples, they have only been opposed to the church being forced to redefine what it has recognized as marriage for thousands of years within the church,“ many anti-gay campaigners would like gay sex to be banned. Not too long ago a number of them were decrying the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence vs. Texas. Others would like to see Gays expelled from the military as was revealed by the Republican primary debates. Other anti-gay activists would like Gays to be “cured” of their homosexuality. The Chick-fil-A cupola has made donations to a number of groups who espouse these nefarious beliefs and pursue a virulently anti-gay agenda, including The Family Research Council and Exodus International, the latter a promoter of reparative therapy. To pretend they’re concerned with the name of a legal contract is only the most recent way of fomenting the marginalization of the LGBT community without having to trot out the many nefarious myths linking gays to pedophilia, disease and the destruction of the Roman Empire.
Words are ever evolving. Once, the word salary represented the salt allowance Roman soldiers received as payment for their service: Salarium, from sal (salt.) Yet, we do not see people protesting that the meaning of the word has evolved and they are now paid their salaries in cash rather than salt.
The meaning of marriage itself has changed significantly through the years. Once it was a business transaction where people were paired off with the highest bidder. That’s still the case in some parts of the world. By rejecting that practice Western societies have changed the definition of marriage that had existed for millenia. When women were afforded property rights and custody rights, the definition of marriage evolved. When people were allowed to marry freely despite social class, skin colour or background we changed the definition of marriage. It’s not the only word that has evolved.When women received the right to vote, society changed the superficial meaning of the word vote. For millenia, from the first democracies in Greece, only MEN were allowed to VOTE. And yet, by allowing blacks or women to vote, we didn’t change the true meaning of the word, voting stayed the same, the only change was that suddenly another sector of the population could also participate. When women were finally allowed to become LAWYERS and JUDGES, we didn’t change the definition of those words, we simply accepted that gender was not the factor that determined one’s ability to participate in either of those professions.
Marriage is a civil contract that gives two citizens certain rights. The main point of that contract isn’t the gender of those who enter into it, it’s the rights and obligations said contract gives to the subscribers. It’s odd that in this day and age there are still people capable of presenting this absurd semantic argument with a straight face.
The False Premise: It’s About Freedom of Religion
Freedom of religion, like most freedoms afforded to citizens of the civilized western world, is an individual freedom. What does that mean? It’s actually very simple. An individual freedom is one I can apply to my own life, not one I can force other people to apply to their lives. If I did, I would be interfering with their right to freedom of religion! Specifically, it means each one of us can:
A) Choose a (any) religion freely.
B) Choose how often (or not) we participate in religious rituals.
C) Follow as many religious regulations (or not) as we choose.
D) Change to another religion at any given moment.
E) Not join any religion.
In practical terms that means:
- It’s not the right of Orthodox Jews & Muslims to forbid me (or anyone else) from eating bacon.
- It’s not the right of the aforementioned religious groups to force women to cover their hair with scarves or wigs.
- It’s not the right of Christians to tell people when, how or with whom they should or shouldn’t use their genitalia.
- It’s not the right of Christians to tell their fellow citizens how they should or shouldn’t live their individual freedoms.
Freedom of religion is about the right to choose and follow your religion, it’s not about the right to force other people to live according to the tenets of your religion. Going down that road goes against the basic principles of a free society. What anti-gay activists propose is that the regulations of their religion be the paramaters for the law for all, even though they continue to be free to follow all the regulations of their religion that they choose.
When we let one person’s religion define other people’s rights, this is what happens:
It’s About Authoritarianism
What Mr. Broes and his ilk propose is that society, as a whole, conform to his religion’s definition of marriage. He says “Christians get married before God and not the state,” and in doing so seems to imply that everyone else in society, Jewish, Hindu, Atheist et al, must adopt the limited definition of marriage as stated by his particular version of Christianity. I’d like to remind Mr. Broes that the Catholic definition of marriage precludes divorce, yet divorce is legal and there are no protests outside of Catholic Churches decrying their particular definition of marriage. In an extremist Muslim society, their definition of marriage means a woman who is unfaithful can be stoned to death.
Blood On Their Hands
I’ve got to wrap this up with what all of this really means, and that takes my mind back to Tyler Clementi, Kenneth Weishun, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Raymond Chase, Justin Aaberg, Billy Lucas, Zach Harrington, Jamey Rodemeyer- and so many others. It means that a certain sector of our society is creating an atmosphere where free citizens feel so marginalized and excluded they feel life is not worth living. So, congratulations Chick-fil-A, Mike Huckabee and Derek Broes- I suppose you’re reaching your goals by hook or by crook, if not by donating to viciously anti-gay groups, by creating an environment where gay teenagers feel they’re better off dead than in the environment you help create.