The recent ousting of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich highlights not just the huge cultural divide on the gay marriage debate, but our nation’s dangerous misunderstanding of the term “tolerance.” Tolerance is an absolute necessity in any free society. As defined by Merriam-Webster, tolerance is the willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own. As we live in a society of more than 300 million diverse individuals, this is an essential nature to ensure domestic tranquility. The entire concept of liberty depends on each and every one of us accept that there are beliefs, attitudes and activities that differ from our own, even reprehensible to some.
And while much of the progressive-left wears the badge of tolerance on their shoulders, it is specifically this group which most practices an attitude of intolerance and exclusion. In our age, this intolerance has found its manifestation in the gay marriage debate. As the left defines the issue, to simply disagree with placing same-sex marriages on the same legal and moral plane as traditional marriage is not simply an opinion on a particular policy issue, but defines one as “anti-gay.” To the left, there is no debate, there is no just cause to weigh the far reaching consequences of establishing such a cultural shift. No, to them and the gay-left, to disagree is to be homophobic and hate-filled. This doesn’t leave much room for discussion or reasonable debate, the very foundations of our Republic and the very essence of the tolerance they claim to base their entire world view on.
If we, as reasonable adults, cannot agree that there differing opinions on this issue, there can be no dialogue, there can be no understanding and there can be middle ground to be found. If the larger gay community as a whole insists that to disapprove of gay marriage is to be “anti-gay” then we have a serious problem which will never be mended.
We can easily address the tangible benefits the gay community purports to achieve. Would most conservatives support granting civil partners the tax benefits, hospital and prison visitation, probate and other tangible matters that gay partners desire? I believe we would. Will conservatives, as a whole, ever come to the belief that a same sex marriage is on an equal level, with no distinctions, from a traditional practice our species has participated in since the dawn of civilization? That’s not going to happen. Ever. This could be a matter of religious belief, tradition, or simply a personal and primal instinct. All are completely understandable, intellectually and culturally and do no require “hate” to be a motivating factor. This is something that, at least within the activist base of the gay community, is not understood.
Conservative apprehension, and Newtonian backlash, comes when concerns the right has about gay marriage (dismissed by the left as alarmist and unrealistic so very much in tune their rhetoric on so many issues), are proving to be founded. The defense of “how does their marriage affect you” has been answered in that legal acceptance is no longer enough, compulsory participation is now demanded by the state. Add to that the Pandora’s Box that acceptance of gay marriage renders opposition to bigamy and incestuous relations intellectually hypocritical, and you see a huge gulf that simply screaming “homophobes” isn’t going to fill. And while the progressive’s may claim “victory” with legislation and legal decrees, if the ultimate desire of the gay community is true tolerance, on the path to acceptance, these victories will be hollow. The “acceptance” will be obligatory. Gay Americans will forever be forced to wonder what is being said once you leave the room.
There are many areas in which conservatives and the gay community can find common cause. The gay community counts among its population a disproportionate number of small business owners, for example. The concerns and struggles of these entrepreneurs are no different than that of straight business owners. Tax codes and regulatory battles have nothing to do with bedroom activities. As conservatives, our philosophy of a limited government, individual liberty and self-determination is one we believe to be superior for all Americans, the gay community included.
While the gay-left and their progressive allies bloviated in righteous indignation the actions taken recently by the Arizona legislature to strengthen right of refusal laws for business owners, they fail to acknowledge, of course, this was a crisis of their own doing. Prior to these actions, in multiple states, gay couples purposely targeted bakers they knew would refuse to do a custom order (the key term here) wedding cake for a gay marriage. When the baker refused to do this custom order, lawyers were brought in and Pandora’s box was opened.
Much like the case where the moron who named his kid “Adolph Hitler” was refused from a baker when a custom birthday cake order was presented, it comes down to a business’ decision to take or refuse a contract based on their beliefs. Had the baker refused to, out of hand, sell the couple a cupcake, or standard white sheet cake, this one thing, but to not wish to inscribe the cake and place figurines of two “grooms” he is making a decision based on his moral and religious beliefs. Business can choose when and if to take custom orders for all sorts of reasons. It could be based on beliefs, or that by taking this order, they may risk their reputation with their built in customer base, or simply because they cant handle the workload.
There is an aspect of karma at play here. The gay couples who purposely targeted these bakers did so specifically to pick a fight. Not only did they disregard the owners religious liberty, but the right of a business to pick and choose what customer orders they would take. After all, should we force a bakery owned by a gay man to make a custom ordered cake from someone who wished to inscribe it with anti-gay slogans? Should a public relations firm with a strong stance toward animal rights be forced to take on the marketing campaign of an ivory importing consortium? The left wing tends to base their stance not on a consistent belief set, but rather those involved in the given dispute. This is not only hypocrisy, but incredibly dangerous in a tolerant society.
The gay community has the same responsibility that the general public has, as it relates to domestic tranquility. Its a fight they
started, wanted to start simply to attack some baker who happened to disagree with their lifestyle. They cared not whether this would result in the baker losing his business or livelihood, in fact they most likely desired it. Any action born of bitterness and intolerance will result have an equal and opposite reaction. One need only recall the lessons of the Weimar Republic to witness the result of pushing even a tolerant and educated people too far, too fast. When we consider there is an active “war room” in progressive circles, researching Christian-owned establishments and executives political donations, then acting to have them “purged” from active society for simply disagreeing on particular legislation, we must come to the conclusion we have reached a dangerous point in our nations history. Not only does this reveal a very “un-democratic” strain in the body politic, but opens the door for a cultural backlash that I promise will be counter intuitive to the gay communities stated goal of greater understanding and societal acceptance.
Most conservatives would defend the gay baker’s right to deny taking an order to inscribe a cake with anti-gay slogans with the same zeal as we will the Christian baker who refuses to do the gay marriage cake. This is what we call consistency, a concept apparently lost on the left, be they gay or straight. If the gay community cannot understand this, nay agree with us, then I do hold out much hope that we can work effectively with one another.