Toronto Diary
2 min

Gay rights and religious liberties: why can’t we be friends?

In another lifetime, perhaps gay men and conservative Christians could have been friends. We both love anything kitschy (we're just more ironic about it), we both get weirdly judgmental over polyblends, and Jesus turning water into wine? Great way to start a party.

And yet the LGBT community and the religious right just don't get along. Mostly because they won't let us get married and they have this weird thing about refusing us equal rights. As The Huffington Post reports, as gay rights progress and spread across North America, more and more institutions are using "religious freedom" as an excuse to hold on to anti-gay sentiments and practices.

A bakery in Gresham, Ore., owned by a Christian family, under investigation by state officials for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, decided to close its doors. “This fight is not over,” they wrote on a sign in the shop window. “We will continue to stand strong. Your Religious Freedom is becoming not Free anymore.”

[. . .] Many of the legal skirmishes are not directly tied to federal recognition of gay marriages after the Supreme Court’s decision striking down most of the Defense of Marriage Act. Instead, the fights largely revolve around state and local anti-discrimination ordinances that include protections for gays and lesbians.

Upcoming battles include whether religious opposition to same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender and/or marital status; and what happens when a discrimination claim bumps up against an individual’s or institution’s religious freedom.

I've said this before, but fuck it, I'm going to say it again: homophobia is NOT, nor was it ever, an integral part of being a Christian. Stop pretending it is.

The biblical argument against homosexuality stems from a handful of context-free quotes picked from the Old Testament. Specifically, they pull out Leviticus 18:22 while glazing over the rest of Leviticus, which (if you haven't read it) is batshit crazy and also bans everything from crop rotation to shrimp cocktails. Jesus himself didn't actually say anything about homosexuality, but he did say a lot about loving your neighbour and giving your money to the poor.

Religious freedom doesn't extend to your freedom to discriminate against others. Does it give you the right to practise your religion as it extends to you personally? Absolutely. Does it allow you to bypass certain laws you don't agree with based on your religious beliefs? No. And even if it did, based on Jesus's teachings, would you be given free rein to discriminate against anyone? No.

[Image via Imgur]