Imagine that it is possible to be a homophobic, right-wing zealot one moment and a gay-loving uber-liberal the next, simply by crossing the street.
In this author’s locale, it is possible (Chick-fil-A and Starbucks sit right across from one another). But that’s only if you allow yourself to believe that the customers of fast food restaurants and other businesses should be labeled simply because they prefer their chicken fried in peanut oil and like to sip coffee in a place with hip music playing in the background and a free Wi-Fi connection.
Does it really matter how companies feel about whether homosexuals should be allowed to marry? Instead of asking themselves that simple question, Americans on both sides of the debate have decided to instead jump to their feet — in largely meaningless ways — and engage themselves in a debate that has nothing to do with marriage equality or moral tradition.
Several months ago, Starbucks made clear that it supports the right of gays to marry. Some conservatives flipped out and, to the dismay of some Christian coffee lovers, a handful of pastors called for a Christian boycott of the company.
“Christians are upset with Starbucks for turning against God… Starbucks can follow Satan if they want to,” Steven Andrew, evangelical pastor and president of the USA Christian Ministries in California, said in a statement at the time. “However, pastors are to help Christians. Are you on the Lord’s side? Will you help the USA be blessed by God?”
Andrew probably joined the likes of Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and thousands of conservatives yesterday for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. The event was aimed at encouraging conservatives to go to the restaurant after its CEO Dan Cathy said he supports traditional marriage in an interview with a Christian publication. The company has come under heavy fire from gay-rights groups and been boycotted by many people.
The takeaway message is that Christians should avoid the evil sodomite sympathizers at Starbucks and gay rights activists should avoid peanut-fried, right-wing chicken from Chick-fil-A, right? If that’s the case, here are a few other things people on both sides should boycott:
In case you forgot, those of you who are in favor of women’s equality need to support the 45 companies that pulled advertising from Rush Limbaugh’s talk show after he called Sandra Fluke a slut. His other advertisers are clearly misogynists.
Conservatives should boycott Target stores. Target sells gay greeting cards.
If you are a gay-rights fan, be sure that you avoid any petroleum products with ties to Saudi Arabia. The LGTB-unfriendly nation frequently imprisons and kills people for homosexual activities.
Don’t like homosexuality or Libertarians? Steer clear of Paypal, Facebook and several other tech companies, because innovator and businessman Peter Thiel is both gay and a Libertarian and has ties to several Internet companies that you likely use on a daily basis.
If all of this is beginning to sound a bit over the top, it is because it is over the top. There are more than 311 million people in the United States; we will never all agree completely. Rather than have a sensible debate on whether gay marriage should be legal, Americans have collectively chosen to have a shouting match about who is on what side.
Conservatives will have to accept at some point that the cat is out of the bag with regard to American homosexuality and, short of adopting the legal tactics of certain theocratic nations, it is not going to go away. And gay-rights activists must realize that some people simply do not agree with their lifestyle, and believe that it is neither natural nor moral.
In considering those two things, marriage traditionalists and gay-marriage advocates can find a common enemy: government-sanctioned marriage. Traditionalists and Christians view marriage as the union of a man and woman in the eyes of God first and foremost. Secularists view the union as a contractual one, man-made and legally binding. A traditionalist would never accept a government form as the only thing needed to be married, and a secularist would surely have similar disdain for a marriage not legally binding but God-sanctioned.
Any aspect of marriage that is provided by the government form should be freely attainable by all individuals. That is, any two, three, four and so on people in a free society should have the right to enter a contract that allows for the transfer of wealth, hospital visitation and other rights when a person is ill or dying, the sharing of common assets and the distribution of those assets in the event of breach of contract. In a free society, people have a natural right to assemble and associate as they will, so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others to do so. The Federal government has not given married couples the special privilege of entering into that contract; it has simply denied others the right to do so — not just people who are gay, but also straight, single people.
When the Federal apparatus and its legislative minions discuss marriage, they are discussing the contractual, not the religious, aspect of the institution. And when they veer into discussing the religious definition of marriage, either in favor or against gay marriage, they abrogate the Constitutional guarantee of a political body that lacks the power to shape religious policy.
If legal gay marriage becomes standard from sea to shining sea, homosexuals who wish to be married and a whole boatload of bleeding-heart liberals will feel vindicated by the symbolic victory. Likewise, if conservatives and traditionalists are able to revive a strict adherence to the Defense of Marriage Act, they will feel a hard-fought battle against moral decay and a threat to their religious value has been won. But, aside from perceptual victory, nothing is going to change. In the first scenario, traditional Christian institutions will not feel that because bureaucracy changed its mind that God will as well and suddenly ordain gay marriages. And, in the second scenario, people who have made the decision to accept alternative sexual practices aren’t likely to stop.
If the debate about gay marriage is to ever be resolved, Americans will have to decide whether the discussion is about religion, legal contracts, the validation of an alternative lifestyle, moral decay or simply what types of people should patronize which establishments. In the meantime, when you sit down to enjoy your chicken sandwich or overpriced specialty coffee, check out a few other recent headlines. You may find that a Nation in decline on all fronts has much scarier problems than whether gays should be allowed to marry in the eyes of the government.