By Derek Monson
Recently I participated in a debate with someone from Equality Utah about religious liberty and public accommodations protections for LGBT individuals. After the moderator asked why they are pushing the public accommodations law, the other side opened by saying that he didn’t think a gay couple wanted “a homophobic florist, or cake baker, or wedding photographer to shoot their wedding.”
Now, it has always been curious to me how LGBT activists, and the left in general, are so willing in political debates to stereotype and attempt to socially marginalize those who don’t think like they do. Self-identified advocates for equality embrace intolerance as a political strategy, without any recognition of the contradiction it creates and the hypocrisy it suggests.
Progressive listeners out there might be objecting right now saying something like “hey, we don’t embrace intolerance. We are fighting intolerance.” But look at it this way: What would you accuse a conservative of if her approach to winning any issue was to use arguments and rhetoric that stereotyped and socially marginalized LGBT individuals without genuinely considering their views on their own terms? It’s OK, you can go ahead and admit it: You would call that intolerance, hate, bigotry, or something similar. And that kind of intolerance is exactly what LGBT activists are doing as a matter of political strategy. What that strategy looks like is stereotyping as “a homophobe” or “a bigot” any individual who seeks legal tolerance and equality for their identity as a religious supporter of traditional marriage, which is the same kind of protection that LGBT individuals seek for their identity of sexual orientation.
“But wait!” I can hear my progressive friends saying. “Your religious-based arguments are just echoes of racism. They are like the arguments used to support segregation and Jim Crow laws.”
Now everyone, of course, is entitled to their opinions. But when historically uninformed arguments are put forward, their inaccuracy needs to be recognized in a society seeking to preserve authentic freedom, which must be grounded in truth and reality. And this argument is one of the more historically uninformed ones that exist in politics today.
Religious belief in man-woman marriage has existed since the founding of Abrahamic religion – thousands of years ago. So-called “religious arguments” in support of segregation, on the other hand, are grounded in antebellum America a couple hundred years ago. Religious belief in man-woman marriage has been universally embraced by religion over almost all of its multi-millennial existence. On the other hand, just as a portion of America was discovering a so-called religious basis for racism, the rest of the country were using the same religious foundations to show how misguided this pro-racist basis was and instead support abolition and emancipation.
In other words, perhaps the only thing illuminated by equating religious grounds for traditional marriage and so-called religious arguments supporting segregation is that the person making these comparisons knows nothing about the histories they are comparing.
Perhaps the oddest thing about LGBT advocates embracing intolerance as a part of their cause is that it effectively ends any chance of getting what they want. If the last session of the Utah Legislature taught anything, it is that the only way to enact new legal protections for the LGBT community is to balance them with similar protections for religious liberty. In the end, people in Utah do not want the inequality that unbalanced versions of these laws bring. In Washington state, for example, their state government is going after a grandmother who owns a flower shop and serves LGBT customers for thousands of dollars, simply because she prefers the financial penalty of losing same-sex wedding business instead of violating her core beliefs that define who she is. Confusingly, Washington state is pursuing legalized anti-religious discrimination in the name of anti-discrimination.
Now that they are a part of a national cultural majority, Utah’s political left has to choose whether they want to mature politically or embrace the role of the intolerant bully who isn’t satisfied with simple victory and instead tries to annihilate a beaten opponent. Reasonable thought, human decency and their own values of equality and tolerance suggest they do the former.