Nobody likes to be called a bigot. But the word is definitely thrown around a lot these days. As America continues its journey towards liberty and justice for all Americans, not just heterosexual ones, and with a growing majority of Americans favoring the right of their gay brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and neighbors to get married, some who disagree are finding themselves with a viewpoint that is more commonly being seen as bigoted. But are these people who are against marriage equality really bigots?
Many of these folks may simply identify as "God-fearing" Christians. After all, their pastors tell them Sunday after Sunday that God says marriage is only between one man and one woman (I've yet to see where God actually said this). They are told over and over again by their leaders that being gay is a choice that can be changed. Ignoring scientific discourse, they insist that miraculously we can "pray away the gay." Despite the fact that a rational and historical interpretation of Scripture does not back up their viewpoint, they believe that the Bible tells them so.
I, on the other hand, as a Christian do not believe that God condemns committed same-gender relationships. I believe that in God's eyes, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). In other words, I don't believe that the race or gender of the person I love is what matters to God. So I adamantly disagree with them, and they adamantly disagree with me. Does that make us both bigots? Well, let's see.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary editors define bigot as, "a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance." So when applying this to gay people and those who oppose their equality, which side is acting with hatred and intolerance?
While we both disagree with each other, there is a clear difference between our tolerance of each other. They are actively attempting to prevent me from my constitutional right to equal protection under the law. I, on the other hand, am in no way attempting to prevent them from marrying the one they love. So not only do they not agree with me, as I with them, but they are attempting to deny me the same rights and responsibilities they have in marriage. Regardless of their reasoning, whether they blame it on God or not, they are intolerant of gay Americans being afforded equal rights under the law. And as far as the hatred goes, I can tell you from first-hand experience that hatred is alive and well, and even encouraged, in their circles.
Now I'm sure someone reading this will say I'm being intolerant of them and their views. Fundamentalist Christians love to claim they are being discriminated against (as if they somehow are the ones who have been persecuted throughout American history). It's almost funny if it wasn't so serious. But I don't believe the majority of the American people are buying it anymore. The victim mentality doesn't work when you are victimizing others. You can't claim persecution while persecuting others.
So can you be against marriage equality and not be a bigot? I'll let you decide. Is there a difference between having a bigoted viewpoint and actually being a bigot? Regardless, I'll continue to stand for equal rights and protections for all Americans, even for those anti-equality fundamentalists I disagree with. Sadly, they will not do the same for me.