The issue of same-sex marriage has been one of the hottest topics over the last decade and one that certainly is not going away anytime soon. But for this nation to have an informed debate, it is important for both sides to respectfully hear opposing arguments and converse in a civil manner.
In the 80â€™s and 90â€™s some in the anti-gay community used language about this issue that was disrespectful, dramatic, and hateful. Well now, it appears that some in the gay rights community are returning the favor towards Americans who support traditional marriage.
As the nation settles from Tuesdayâ€™s vote to make North Carolina the thirtieth state to ban same-sex marriage â€“ while now reacting to the shock of President Obamaâ€™s political gamble in openly supporting gay marriage â€“ it is frustrating to hear supporters of traditional marriage, like me, called bigots, homophobic and intolerant.
Support for traditional marriage is not about hate or bigotry, as has been spun by many gay rights groups. It is simply a difference of opinion based on religion or respect for traditional institutions. As a Christian, I love everyone no matter if they agree with me or not. I love gay and lesbian people because Jesus Christ has called on me to do so.
In full disclosure, I am a registered Democrat and someone who voted for President Obama in 2008. However, it has been disappointing to see the President and officials within his administration become so vocal about their support for same-sex marriage and critical of those who disagree. What is so ironic about this is that the President himself said in 2004 that he supported the marriage definition of one man and one woman. He said, â€œWhat I believe, in my faith, is that a man and a woman, when they get married, are performing something before God, and itâ€™s not simply the two persons who are meeting.â€
Apparently, as of today, thatâ€™s changed.
President Obama once believed that faith was an appropriate reason to support traditional marriage. Obama wasnâ€™t called a bigot then, so why are those that support traditional marriage now called such things?
As a Democrat, I feel like the Partyâ€™s leaders in Washington are telling people like me that weâ€™re not wanted within the â€œbig tent.â€ As the Democratic National Committee considers an official platform at the Charlotte Convention in support of same-sex marriage, they should know that there are many Democrats like me who would be appalled by such a move.
I understand that not every religious American agrees with me, but the vast majority of citizens who call themselves religious or Christian stand with me on this issue. The vast majority of Muslims, Mormons and other religions also agree with me. Religious freedom is not just the right to believe and teach what you want in private. It is the right to live a religious life. And because we live in a Democracy, we have every right to express our opinion about what the laws of this nation should be. This nation was founded on religious liberty and it is important for those beliefs to be respected; attacks on Americans because of their religious belief for traditional marriage is intolerance, and should not be encouraged.
Many supporters of traditional marriage believe that there are other ways to grant certain rights, such as hospital visitation, to gays and lesbians without changing the definition of marriage. Even many non-religious Americans support traditional marriage because it is a foundational institution that has been in place for thousands of years. Our society has protected institutions for a reason, and they should be respected â€“ there is no bigoted or hateful nature about this belief.
As an African American, it is also frustrating and disingenuous to hear the plight of gay rights compared to racial civil rights of the mid-20th century. Gays and lesbians may face discrimination, but it is nothing like the abuse, violence and racism suffered by my ancestors.
So, my encouragement for Christians and Muslims and other religious Americans around the nation is to not be intimidated because of your support for traditional marriage. But you must communicate your beliefs with compassion and respect. My challenge to gay Americans is to not demonize persons of faith who may disagree with you. Support for traditional marriage is not bigotry, and it is not homophobia. Letâ€™s prove to the rest of the World that America is great because we can differ on policy, yet live together side by side in harmony and civility.
By Maina Mwaura. Maina is a pastor at Green Forest Community Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Mwaura formerly worked at the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware as the Student Ministry Consultant.
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