I believe in Freedom of Religion. I believe in Power of Assembly. I respected CFA for being closed on Sundays as a matter of religion. I will fight to the death for their right to conduct business in a way that aligns with their practice of Christianity. Where I struggle is when *company* profits are used to limit the civil rights of other citizens. I struggle when a public, wealthy (read: influential) citizen indicates that this country’s woes, present and future, are because some people want to get married.
The uncertain Reconstruction Era was a time when this country was adjusting to new (but severely restricted) rights finally afforded to African-Americans. Many powerful citizens wanted to prescribe a slow, long-term method to fully assimilate African-Americans into mainstream American culture and economy. Many excuses were made to justify the not-quite-equal status…generations of “slave mentality” was one. “The Curse of Ham” from the Bible was another. It took many years of struggle to change public opinion…a struggle that continues for many in the black community.
Black marriage was a sticking point for many lawmakers of the time. The concern was, of course, intermarriage, not quite a perfect parallel, but on a very basic level, preventing two people from marrying because of their biology mirrors some of the concerns we see in the Gay Marriage fight.
Yes, this is a simplification of very complicated issues. I do not intend to bash Christians or Dan Cathy’s beliefs, although I am not above shaking my head at the use of the term “Biblical Family Unit.” I am stridently opposed to the incendiary language he invoked by implying gays are ruining this country. But he can do that. That’s what I love about this country.
When that is attached to business practices, that is fine. People can flock to CFA on August 1st, eat, praise God, Allah, Jehovah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Dan Cathy can run his business. Obviously the consequence of sharing his beliefs will, in at least the short term, fire up a base of like-minded folks.
In my country, there is a history of change happening slowly. I wait for Gay Civil Rights leaders to ignite a different passion in this country. I wait for people to understand that civil union is not the same thing as marriage for those who want to get married. I wait for people to understand that gays are not the reason this country suffers from mass murders, drought, economic problems, or global warming.
On August 1st, I will spend the morning in prayer and meditation about this issue. Yes, I pray. I will talk to my children about love. I will talk to my children about the type of citizen I want them to be — one who supports the beliefs of this country. I will talk to my children about the type of activist I want them to be. I will talk to my children about history and tolerance. About power. About change. About money.
Then I will take them to a local farmer’s market and talk to them about healthy choices and small business owners and corporate responsibility.
And, in the evening, I might just take in a drag show.