Are we as a society progressing? Are we becoming more equitable? Yes, I think so, but it is a painfully slow process. I am amazed by the narrow minds and hearts of some people, and by the courage and commitment of others. It is disappointing to see those in the traditional religious community fighting against inclusion and even misusing the language of civil rights to deny extending to others the rights and privileges they have. For example, a cake maker in Denver refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple saying it was against their religious beliefs; the Arizona legislature passed a law which fortunately their governor vetoed that would have allowed business owners in the name of religious freedom to refuse service to gays.
If you wish to have a business that is open to the public then you have to keep the public laws against discrimination. You can’t say, I won’t bake wedding cakes for African-Americans or Protestants, for example, nor for those who are GLBTQ. A Catholic Church may say they won’t perform a marriage for a Unitarian Universalist, as church and state are separate; but our religious freedom does not allow us to discriminate against others in the public arena. It is good to stand up for equal rights, but not the right to oppress others.
Nine same sex couples filed a lawsuit to overturn Colorado’s ban on gay marriage. I appreciate their courage and commitment and was honored to sign, along with other UU and United Church of Christ clergy, a Faithful Voices letter supporting their lawsuit. It read in part: “Civil/legal marriage carries with it significant access to institutional support, rights, and benefits. There are more than 1,400 such rights and benefits in the federal statutes alone. Colorado’s ban on civil marriage for loving, committed, same-sex couples denies them and their children full and equal access to these rights and benefits, putting them and their children at risk.” And it stated that “As the debate surrounding marriage equality for all continues, those speaking on behalf of their religious beliefs have been among some of the most vocal opponents to same-sex marriage. We believe it is important that the public understand that there is an equally committed group of religious leaders and faith communities firmly in support of marriage equality for all people.”
So let us raise our voices and act—not for the right to discriminate, but for equal rights! There’s a difference.