bigotry and intolerance

… it will not be long, love … till our wedding day …

I’m not a religious guy.  I’m not a political guy.  I do have my opinions on both, but tend to keep them to myself as there are enough people out there who like to knock on your door and throw their beliefs at you.  But, this is going to get a little political here, and for that I apologize.  Unfortunately, there’s no getting to the point without a little background.

Recently, for the first time, I voted in an election.  In Australia, where I grew up, voting is mandatory once you turn 18.  You are fined if you don’t vote.  For me, there really weren’t any good candidates worth voting for, in the four years I was there and allowed to vote.  As such, I would show up to the voting center, but never cast a proper vote.  In September of this year, I became a US citizen and registered to vote on the same day.  Finally, not only was there someone I wanted to vote against (which is the typical thought of most people), but there was someone I wanted to vote for.  Additionally, as is the system here, there were propositions that I considered important to vote on as well.  And so I voted.

California’s Proposition 8 proposed the addition of the following text to the state constitution:

Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

This one line sparked a battle.  Simply put, it prevents gays and lesbians from legally getting married, something that has been a hot topic over recent years.

A lot of money was spent on both sides of this debate, with religious groups and individuals pushing for the amendment to be added and the gay community pushing to keep it out.  I have my own opinions on this issue and I voted accordingly, but that’s not what this post is about.  I’m sure you can read between the lines and understand my position.

In my travels, I came across an article on the Protect Marriage site, the major proponent of the “Yes on 8” campaign, in which Pastor Rob McCoy comments on a TV commercial that was sponsored by the “No” campaign.  He decried the ad as “a blatant display of religious bigotry and intolerance.”  He continued on to say, “From the beginning of this campaign the Catholic Conference has stressed the importance of mutual respect and denounces this type of religious bigotry.”

I’m not sure that Pastor McCoy understands the meaning of these words.  For clarity, “bigotry” is defined on Wikipedia as follows:

A bigot is a person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his or her own, and bigotry is the corresponding state of mind.

By that simple definition, the amendment to the constitution represents bigotry.  And, Pastor McCoy, it is hard to feel sympathy for a bigot who complains that he is the victim of bigotry.

Personally, I believe in equal rights for all people, something that the constitution of the United States captured in writing so many years ago.  As an Australian living in America, I didn’t have the same privileges in this country as an American citizen did, but I had a home in Australia that would provide me with those privileges.  At the same time, as a human being, I had the same rights.  As a person, I was an equal.  As an American citizen, I have the same privileges and still the same rights.

On election day, the majority of votes cast on proposition 8 were in favor of adding the amendment to the state constitution.  On that same day, the rights of people in the state of California were adjusted such that some people have more than others.  That, however, is democracy at work — the majority rules, whether they be right or wrong.  It is simply a numbers game.  It also allows people to continue to fight for their rights through other avenues, something I’m sure will occur.

Pastor McCoy, no-one should ever have to feel the pain of being a victim of bigotry.  Not you, not anyone.  I hope you learn from the bigotry that you felt, but at the same time, and far more importantly, I hope you understand the bigotry that you represent and learn from it.

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