The state of Washington passed a law earlier this year that added sexual orientation to the state’s anti-discrimination laws and the religious right there is none too happy about it. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of the Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, is leading an attempt to get the matter put on the ballot to overturn that law. This is pretty much universally true of anti-gay groups; they don’t just oppose gay marriage, they oppose any legal protections for gays at all – including those protections that they themselves enjoy.
It’s illegal at the Federal level and in every state to discriminate on the basis of one’s religion (except for other religious groups, of course; the ministerial exception still applies, as it should). Christians are protected against discrimination by those laws because of their religious beliefs. But they seek to deny that same protection to gays and lesbians. Why? There is only one possible reason: they believe that it’s okay to fire someone from their job, or deny them public accomodation, insurance coverage, and so forth, merely because they’re gay.
The hypocrisy becomes especially clear when you look at their arguments against such initiatives. What do they always say? That they’re opposed to giving gays special rights. But the fact that Christians already have those same protections (as do women, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, etc) shows this rhetoric to be completely vacuous; how could it possibly be a “special right” if it’s one already enjoyed by the very people claiming it to be special?
The other argument they make is that sexual orientation should not be protected in anti-discrimination laws because it’s a choice, while race is not. Leaving aside the false idea that people just choose to be gay (they no more choose to be gay than I choose to be straight), this is still an absurd argument coming from those who want protection based on their religious views. By any measure, religious belief is far more a choice than sexual orientation. Yet they want to be protected against discrimination based upon their chosen beliefs.
The bottom line is that the religious right opposes not just gay marriage, but any policy at all that provides any legal protection for gays. They are in favor of discrimination, in favor of firing gays and lesbians, in favor of denying them housing. Now, if they want to argue that private entities like businesses should be allowed to discriminate on any basis they wish, then by all means make that argument. But if you’re going to demand protection for yourself based on your chosen beliefs, you have no credibility in claiming that others don’t deserve that protection. If we’re going to have anti-discrimination laws, there is no rational reason why gays and lesbians should not be protected as well.
And next time you hear one of these folks say, “I’m not anti-gay, I just don’t want the definition of marriage to change”, don’t believe them. What they really mean is, “I’m not anti-gay, I just want to be able to fire them from their jobs just for being gay.” And that’s a ridiculous position.