I do not support gay marriage. There. I’ve said it.
My reasons aren’t religious, although I could make a religious argument if I had to. I simply think that equating any other coupling with that capable of producing human life is illogical. Not to mention social suicide as the strongest bonds we’re capable of forming no longer beckon as something special.
But having said that, what is with vendors who refuse to provide services for gay weddings?
A florist in Washington state, a New Mexico photographer and a baker in Oregon all refused to provide services to gay couples who expressed their intent to marry. Barronelle Stutzman, the florist who had knowingly served her gay customer on at least 20 prior occasions, declared, “I just put my hands on his and told him because of my relationship with Jesus Christ I couldn’t do that, couldn’t do his wedding.”
I work on my relationship with Jesus daily, but it doesn’t give me the right to pick and choose which biblical teachings to follow if they contravene the civil law. “Religious motivation does not excuse compliance with the law,” said the Washington judge who ruled against the florist.
Logic also makes me ask: Where are the refusals to provide flowers or cakes for interracial couples? Or unmarried (i.e., fornicating) couples who celebrate their relationship? Parts of the Bible condemned those things, too.
Logic ultimately requires an admission that the Bible contradicts itself all over the place. Which parts do we follow? Do these florists and bakers have mortgages? (Because the Bible prohibits usury.) Do they keep the Sabbath holy? Do they tithe? (The Bible is also pretty clear on the importance of both.)
It’s one thing to uphold deeply held religious views when they are private. Private views are not subject to consistency, fairness or logic. But public, legally regulated behavior is.
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who disrupt a flight because they refuse to sit next to women are just as wrong. Flying is a voluntary choice, and you agree to the terms when you purchase your ticket. Operating a commercial business, or transacting with one, is a voluntary choice, and you agree to the terms when you apply for or renew your license.
The same goes for government workers — probate judges, county clerks, justices of the peace — who claim a religious exemption from having to do their job, in this case issuing civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples. When you work at the county clerk’s office, you get paid to do a job, not run a missionary campaign.
Even attending a same-sex wedding doesn’t have to be about supporting gay marriage. I have attended two lesbian weddings, not because I support the institution of gay marriage but because I support the people who have chosen to be married.
Not attending their celebration strikes no wins for traditional marriage; it only damages the relationships we have. I may not agree with their views, but why hurt them on what is for them the most important day of their lives — just as it is for the rest of us?
The most painful part of this story is that the florist felt enough compassion to “put (her) hands on his,” but apparently not enough to put herself in his shoes.
If you serve the public, you have to bake the cake, arrange the flowers. Express your deeply held religious beliefs with actual words if you wish. But don’t pick this one thing to use as justification for not loving your neighbor as yourself.
(Donna Carol Voss is an author, blogger and speaker. A former pagan who had relationships with women and is now a Mormon, her memoir, “One of Everything,” will be released May 1.)
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