I wasn’t expecting to hear it. Not any more.
“Beliefs should be respected,” he said. “Just believing gay people shouldn’t get married doesn’t make me a bigot.”
“Believing same sex people shouldn’t marry doesn’t make you a bigot,” I replied, “trying to force someone else to live by that belief does.”
After a second, he said, “Well, yeah, but they’re trying to force gay marriage on people. Our beliefs should be respected. That’s just reasonable.”
I’m a little disappointed that two years after marriage equality became, um, the law, that this is still some kind of talking point. It sounds like it should make sense, and sounds innocuous; it’s anything but.
So let’s go through this latest permutation of reasonable sounding bigotry.
Beliefs should be respected. No, beliefs should be acknowledged. Unless you’re going to respect my belief that everyone should tithe 10% of their income to me.
This statement always is a charade, a scam to try to make the statement “Everyone should do what I want because it’s a belief” look reasonable or fair.
You can acknowledge someone’s belief (“Oh, you think the Earth is flat? Okay.”) without having to respect it (“You think I should defund NASA because you think the Earth is flat? Um, no.”). Or as Patton Oswalt put it:
“You’ve gotta respect everyone’s beliefs.” No, you don’t. That’s what gets us in trouble. Look, you have to acknowledge everyone’s beliefs, and then you have to reserve the right to go: “That is fucking stupid. Are you kidding me?” I acknowledge that you believe that, that’s great, but I’m not going to respect it. I have an uncle that believes he saw Sasquatch. We do not believe him, nor do we respect him!”
They’re trying to force gay marriage on people. No, we are trying to end discrimination and ensure that marriage (and all civil rights) apply to all people in this country equally. Has your opposite-sex marriage been nullified and your court-appointed same-sex partner been assigned to you? No? THAT’S BECAUSE NOBODY IS DOING THAT. Get married, or don’t. Equal opportunity under the law.
But this business owner believes… Oh, FFS. Yeah, that baker’s case is headed to the Supreme Court. Yeah, y’know what? Imagine that business is not selling to white people. Or refuses to sell to Christians. Would that be okay? (Hint: we know the answer, given the uproar when a theaters had some women-only screenings of Wonder Woman.) Here we go – a gun store owned by a Persian couple that only sells guns to Muslims. Think Fox News commentators would be cool with that?
There’s a simple as hell test to see if something’s bigoted – change the people it effects and see if it pisses you off. If so, then it’s probably bigoted as hell.
Remember, if it’s not inconvenient, it’s not a principle.