I part ways with most conservatives on a number of social issues, but I hope I can still be seen as respectful of their religion in the process.
For example, I have no problem at all with gay marriage. If it makes people feel better to call it “civil union” or “domestic partnership” to preserve in their mind the definition of marriage between a man and a woman, it’s reasonable to me. But the fact remains that marriage, to the state, is a contractual commitment and obligation, and any two consenting adults should be able to enter into it, in my opinion. (Standard obligatory disclaimer: By “two consenting adults”, I do not mean a man and his goat, a woman and her twelve year old cousin, or anything other than exactly “two consenting adult” humans.)
However, we cannot let gay rights trample freedom of religion, either. I understand why some opponents of gay marriage fear the slippery slope. The lawsuit recently settled by eHarmony.com, in which they felt forced to provide services for same-sex couples, gives these opponents legitimate reason to be concerned. If a person of faith does not want to perform matchmaking services for unions they morally oppose, it is an outrage that they should legally be forced to do so. Thankfully, as the case was settled and not litigated to the bitter end, it should not set a poor precedent. I hope.
There are plenty of dating and matchmaking services out there that cater to all sexual orientations. I personally find it somewhat intolerant of eHarmony that they wouldn’t provide same-sex services, but I still think it should be their right not to. By the same token, should gay marriage become legal, churches should not be forced to perform the ceremonies. Unlike marriage, freedom of religion is explicitly protected in the Bill of Rights, so state intrusion into the religious sacrament of marriage should be off-limits.
We need more reasonable discussions with mutual respect on both sides, and fewer acrimonious discrimination lawsuits, to maintain the maximum rights for all people. But some groups in society really just need to agree to disagree, and leave it at that.
If you’re gay and a member of a religion that is intolerant of homosexuality, you have a choice to make, not the church. If they’re not allowed to force you to be straight, you are not allowed to try to force them into accepting homosexuality. Sorry. I feel badly for any person in that position, but the rest of the flock has their rights, too. I don’t agree with them either, if it makes you feel any better.
I hope someday the middle 70-80% of the country throw the fringes out on their ear, in order to have a civil and rational discussion on this issue and others like it, without the name-calling and bomb throwing. Until then….