Picture yourself standing at the edge of a sidewalk, waiting to cross the street. Next to you, a man steps forward dressed in an expensive suit, with a pleasant smile on his face. After greeting you politely, this man proceeds to tell you, in the most eloquent terminology, that he thinks you are a horrible person who secretly wants to rape children, and that you are responsible for the woes of society as a whole. Not breaking his smile, the man tips his hat and saunters off with not even a hint of malicious intent.
Now you have some idea of how a gay individual feels when they are confronted with the same polite assertion of belief by other members of society who hide behind religion as an excuse to hatefully condemn others.
This past Wednesday, people by the thousands lined up to support the fast food chain, Chick-fil-A, who had recently come under fire from gay rights organizations for supporting anti-gay groups with millions of dollars of their profits.
Many people rose to support the restaurant chain because they mistakenly assumed that this was a free speech issue. It is not. I hear no one arguing that Mr. Cathy, the owner and CEO of Chick-fil-A, does not have a right to voice his opinion or donate to groups that share his sentiment. However, free speech is a two way street. While Chick-fil-A and its owners are free to express their opinions and beliefs, so are the rest of us who might happen to disagree with those beliefs and opinions.
Standing up in opposition to someone else's point of view is not a sign that free speech is under attack, it is a sign that it is flourishing quite well.
What many are vocally opposing is the fact that Dan Cathy has chosen to spend a good portion of his company's money on lobby groups that actively oppose, or support the repeal of, laws that would guarantee equal rights for gay couples.
In addition, one of the various groups that Chick-fil-A supports is the Family Research Council (FRC), which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2010, the FRC spent $25,000 lobbying Congress to not condemn a Ugandan bill that would have subjected gay citizens of Uganda to the death penalty.
This is why people took to the streets to oppose this company and why Chick-fil-A and it's CEO deserve to be criticized openly.
Equal rights for gay individuals is one of the most important civil rights issues of our time. You can hide behind your Bible just as those who opposed women's rights and abolition of slavery once used Scripture to justify their own hateful intolerances, but it will not make your arguments any more valid than those that came before. Just a few decades ago, people were using the same accusatory rhetoric against those who supported interracial marriage that is being leveled at proponents of gay rights today, and we all know how that ended.
More and more people are coming around and voicing their support for the rights of our gay neighbors and friends. Over 50 percent of the people in this country now support gay marriage... a number which continues to trend ever upward. If you stand strongly on the side opposing equal human rights for the gay community, I pity you. You are on the wrong side of history. Your children and grandchildren will view you one day with shame just as this generation is shamed by the actions of those who opposed every major social progress from time and memorial.
I do not care what you use to justify these beliefs, should you hold them. I don't care what book it is written in. No amount of politeness or claims of religious conviction can mask it: Bigotry wrapped in prayer and a smile is still bigotry.