Because of all the discussion that has been ignited by the choice of Chick-fil-A to announce their stance against marriage equality and equal civil rights, I’ve been reading through quite a few blog posts and articles. Although I already talked about Chick-fil-A in a direct fashion in a previous post, I feel it’s necessary to add to the conversation as a whole.
If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll likely know what I whole-heartily support equal civil rights for all citizens, and that includes marriage equality. In my eyes, a civil marriage recognized as legal by both the state and the federal government is as much a right as the right to free speech. And if it doesn’t quite match up to the level of first amendment in importance, it’s certainly important not to prohibit a certain group of people from enjoying the same rights as the rest of United States citizens. After all, this country is supposed to be about pursuing the equality of all under the law, isn’t it?
The most significant problem we run into when discussing this issue, at least in my own experience, is that people are unable to separate their personal convictions from how they believe a government should operate. I’ve had plenty of conversations with Christians and others who believe that LGBTQA folk should not have the legal right to marry the person they love, and honestly, this strikes me as hypocritical. These are generally the same people who advocate religious freedom and would be enraged if their personal rights were infringed upon. These are also frequently the same people who advocate for a less-intrusive government. Yet, they continue to support government interference in the lives of others.
The solution seems to be that we press for an understanding that one can hold their own personal religious convictions while simultaneously supporting a government that does not discriminate between groups of people regardless of their sexual preference, gender identity, race/ethic identity, religious identity, creed, height, eye color, etc.
On that same token, I also think it wrong that the government force private institutions, like churches, to engage in activities to which they are opposed. The state should not be allowed to force a church to marry an LGBTQA couple when they do not wish to do so. It is important to remember the difference between positive rights and negative rights. The state should allow people to marry each other regardless of their identity but it must simultaneously respect the right of any private institution to opt-out.
In other words, the government can and should be blind to differences in identity when it comes to our civil rights. If we can cultivate this understanding when we debate the issue of marriage equality, I think we may be able to make substantial progress toward a freer and happier nation.