The past two weeks have once again seen America devolve into divisive and unproductive squabbling over the issue of gay marriage, specifically involving the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). While much of the rhetoric flying back and forth from both sides has been unproductive and, as are most debates of our modern era, filled with hyperbolic rhetoric designed to speak to our relative choirs, rather than to bring us all to a better understanding and domestic tranquility. Although the effort may prove unfruitful, in the ever-hopeful spirit of provoking thought and breaking down barriers, this conservative directs this open letter to the LGBT community.
While self-evident, I feel it only fair to express that I hold no pretensions that I speak for all of conservative Americans and hardly consider myself an expert on issues important to the gay community. I present myself merely as a conservative activist, with a passionate belief that limited government is not only the best course action for the life of myself and my family, but for every single American, black or white, gay or straight, rich or poor. It would also be fair to forewarn you that this letter will be filled with reproach toward the LGBT Progressive political wing.
The events in both Indiana and Arkansas are regrettable on many levels, first and foremost that they were even necessary in the first place. The body politic is never served when events lead us to the point where legislation must be drafted to reiterate what the Constitution provides us in the first place. The actions in the two states and the resulting national firestorm reflects a complete breakdown of rational conversation and debate and it is on this level that I am cast my first stone at the gay community, for I can say with some level of certainty this is a debate conservatives have been more than willing to engage in.
This is not say that there are not rational and reasonable gay Americans who relish lively and thought-provoking conversation with those who may not necessarily agree with them. While I wont patronize you with the “some of my best friends are gay” line, throughout my life and career I have known, personally and professionally, members of the LGBT community and have made some very dear friends from this group, as well as come across some I have an utter distaste for, just as with every group with this wonderfully diverse nation of ours. But individuals don’t speak for groups, particularly those who have acquiesced their cultural and political destiny to the Progressive-left, and it precisely that this ilk does claim to speak for the gay community that we find ourselves at this stage. Gay Americans have given liberals the reigns in their campaign for gay marriage and (I presume) a greater level of overall tolerance and acceptance from the American public at large. While they have been fairly successful in making gains on the former, they have been woefully inadequate on the latter and I submit leading the LGBT community down a path they may come to one day regret.
Let us begin with a simple truth….YOU LIED TO US! One of the more compelling arguments made by gay-marriage advocates was that this cultural shift would in no way, shape or form impact the lives of anyone but the couple involved in that union. Having been victorious in legislating gay marriage in more than 30 states, that promise was immediately broken when radical forces within the LGBT community purposely set out to target merchants they knew to have religious objections to these ceremonies, and used the muscle of the courts and sympathetic liberal judges to force compulsory participation. In addition to the justifiable feeling of people of faith that their First Amendment rights are being threatened, one should not disregard the personal feeling of having been duped in the Newtonian-backlash that is the RFRA. At the heart of the current battle is the right of merchants to enter into specialized contract work with clientele of their choosing. While Progressives like to pretend, the legislation brought forth in Indiana, Arkansas and previously in Arizona did not just pop up out of the blue, as a pro-active conservative attack against gay Americans. No, this was rather a reaction to what many feel is an over-reach by the LGBT Left which not only threatens religious liberty, but also provides government yet another weapon in their desire to regulate commerce and dictate how business, particularly small business, operates in this country. And as noted, you looked us directly in the eyes and lied right to our face.
Nearly all conservatives in this country would respect a gay bakers right to refuse to do a cake with an anti-gay marriage inscription on it. We would furthermore respect a gay-owned PR Firm who declined to accept the Westboro Church as a client. To utilize one’s unique talents and energies in the conduct of one’s professional business not only defines the quality and work of that merchant, but it should be their right to develop their own client base, for whatever reason. Now, to deny basic service, such as the baker refusing to sell a cup-cake or pre-produced white sheet cake does open the door up for charges of discrimination, but in not one instance raised by LGBT activists has this been the case.
While the argument of religious freedom and expression is indeed an important one, this is not the only question facing this country in the current debate over gay wedding cakes or floral arrangements. In addition to the aforementioned cases, could not the CEO of a company involved in fracking claim discrimination if a photographer who was sympathetic to the environmental lobby refused to work his daughter’s wedding? While we as a nation work to ensure that the rights of consumers are protected, is this to say that we will force businesses to abandon any and all principles they hold dear when they apply for a business licence?
To members of the LGBT community, I ask of you to consider your feelings if a Christian group sought out a small and struggling printing company (owned by a gay man) and requested a 60-foot banner with anti-gay slogans and a reference to a Bible verse. Many of you would understandably feel sympathy toward the business owner if they refused to take on this contract. Now consider if this well-funded group filed a law suit, brought in a team of expert lawyers to try this gay man in court, thus causing him to lose precious time from his business and considerable expense in his defense. I suspect many of you would be outraged and ask yourselves why the Christian group in question simply did not find another printer to produce their banner. And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. In an example of commendable consistency, gay entertainer RuPaul was perfectly succinct in comments on the subject made on Twitter:
Forget an outside threat, the “Gay Movement” will eat itself from the inside out #OrwellAnimalFarm
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) May 24, 2014
Orwell’s book “Animal Farm”: The pigs didn’t really want a revolution, they just wanted to BE ‘Farmer John’ — RuPaul (@RuPaul) May 24, 2014
I personally do not feel that someone should be ostracized or ridiculed because of their sexual practices. That said, I also feel strongly that this consequence does not alleviate you from the same social responsibilities we all have. As citizens of a large and diverse society, we are expected to uphold the principles of tolerance and pluralism. We are furthermore expected to have the understanding that ours are not the only feelings that matter in our society, and that simply because we feel strongly about an issue, does not mean that there cannot be an equally valid opinion that conflicts with ours. On these points, I must hold the LGBT community grossly responsible for disregarding. One cannot make a moral claim to fighting for tolerance while practicing it with impunity.
I would add to this that it’s not only disingenuous, but rather insensitive, to constantly compare the plight of the gay community with the historic experiences of African-Americans in this country. Having to drive across town to find another baker is hardly comparable to being forced into slavery against one’s will, or forced segregation. While this is a topic for another time, I’m sorry but you tend to lose sympathy when your “leaders” go down that path, for sexuality is not race. Furthermore, the insensate usage of terms like “victim” and “equality” are nothing but childish hyperbole when they replace intellectual debate. If the gay community desires to be treated with sensitivity and respect, it must also afford this to the country as a whole, and respect the feelings of others. In addition, the gay political leadership tends to focus their rage (and dare I say “hate”) on white, Christian conservatives, failing to recognize that not only is disagreement with gay marriage higher by percentage in black and Latino communities than among the white community, in this very diverse country, there are many different people and faiths that feel their right to religious expression is being trampled by the latest tactic of compulsory participation.
I would assume that in the long run, the goals of most gay Americans are that of better understanding, a higher level of tolerance and ultimately acceptance as individuals and the unrestricted right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The current path taken by your political leadership is one counter-productive to this goal, in my opinion. Like all aspects of the Progressive-left. they covet and are empowered by division. One could argue that all the tangible goals of the gay marriage movement could have already been achieved in all 50 states, more than a decade ago, had the debate and campaign taken a slightly different course of amending civil union laws. And let us not forget that in those early days of this debate, when at first gays made the (equally compelling) argument that all that was desired was a mechanism to provide all the tangible benefits of marriage (taxation, probate, visitation, etc.) but when conservatives and others suggested amending civil union laws to bridge these shortcomings, this was roundly rejected, and it was demanded that society strip away the unique distinction traditional marriage had among all human relationships, and liken it to not only gay marriage but that of straight couples simply living together in a common law aspect. Once again the gay left chose a different path and while it is without argument they have had successes, one could argue that gay Americans face an increased level of scrutiny, ridicule and derision, and much of this has nothing to do with white, conservative Christians.
As I pen this open letter to the LGBT community, this conservative Christian wants to make it clear that I hold no personal ill-will toward you simply due to your personal life choices or sexual preferences. I will say that the actions of your so-called “leadership” makes me examine more closely some of the more benign goals of your community and overall has caused me to have less sympathy for your plight. I do not believe I am alone. At the end of the day, however, I look forward to the day we can all deal with one another as American individuals and I can look upon a gay person and say, “oh, so you’re gay, anyway how do you feel about current taxation rates?” But before this can take place, a level of maturity that does not currently exist in the gay community must be achieved. Nobody gets to bake their cake (or rather force somebody else to bake it for you) and eat it too.
Opinion by Paul M Winters
Managing Editor, Dignitas News Service