According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the definition of bigot is: A person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.
This definition came to mind when I read an article in the local edition of the Washington Post. The article, written in response to Maryland’s recently passed same sex marriage law, was titled, “Trolley owner ends wedding business rather than serve same sex couples”. It was about a Maryland businessman who, based on his religious beliefs, chose to close his profitable business rather than having to deal with possible repercussions of getting sued by the state if he were not to conduct same sex marriages.
Wedding vendors elsewhere who refused to accommodate same-sex couples have faced discrimination lawsuits and lost. Legal experts said Discover Annapolis Tours sidesteps legal trouble by avoiding all weddings.
If they’re providing services to the public, they can’t discriminate who they provide their services to,” said Glendora Hughes, general counsel for the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. The commission enforces public accommodation laws that prohibit businesses from discriminating on the basis of race, sexual orientation and other characteristics.
The trolley company’s decision, publicized by a straight groom offended by what he called ‘repressive bigotry,’ offers a snapshot of a local business navigating a new landscape in Maryland’s wedding industry, and leaving it behind for a competitor to swoop in.
What I surmised was that the owner decided not to offend or go through the interrogation and possible microscopic discrimination allegations and public invasion of his company because of his belief and his desire to follow his religion—which, by the way, is supposed to be one of his rights under the Constitution of the United States of America. Unfortunately since he was offering a business that served the public in matrimonial bliss, and since his business was not a church protected under state law, he decided to close instead.
As I read the posts and comments underneath the article, I got angrier and angrier. The majority of people were saying it was “his choice” to close his business while others were spouting words like “racist”, “KKK” and all the usual rhetoric. But the word that stood out for me the most was “bigot”, and that is the reason I’m writing this article—it’s not a “gay thing”, it’s a “bigot thing”.
Am I considered a bigot because, based on my religion, I also don’t believe in a marriage between the same sexes? I don’t believe in living with someone before marriage, either. My decision isn’t based on some “pureness” but rather because life experience has shown me it simply doesn’t work–and that is what I believe. As a mother, I’d like to set an example to my children and no matter what people think of me, I want to do it faithfully, my way. Do I impose my beliefs on others? I may give my opinion but I am not going to judge you because you are living with your boyfriend. I’m not God. I will not “condemn you to hell” and I certainly won’t hate you. You will still be my friend and I will still be there for you as a friend, and I am even open to your opinions, too! (I suppose I got that from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever shall believe in him, shall not perish but have everlasting life.”)
I certainly don’t call someone a bigot if they don’t have my same beliefs, and yet that’s what they’re calling me because they are intolerant of my beliefs. So based on the definition of bigot, being “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance”, who is actually whom?
It’s frustrating to come to this crossroads where everything I do as a Christian is stomped on and pounded on and twisted around to portray me as a person who hates other religions, their sexuality, color and/or culture. I know I am not a bigot or a racist or any of those condescending words that folks use to put others down; I am just a person who has my own opinions and who follows and believes in my religion.
And yet we all know what happened when Chick-fil-A made their stance. They never said they would not serve gays, nor did they say they hated gays. However because the Christian CEO expressed his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, based on the values from his religious dictates, the entire company got completely lambasted by the mainstream media. There was definitely “bigotry” involved—but it was coming from the side that was telling people to boycott Chick-Fil-A.
It is not up to me to judge because as Christ said, “If one of you are free from sin, cast the first stone.” Unfortunately in this present day, it seems things are so turned around that some folks are not only judging but also demanding that everyone go against their beliefs and follow their lead instead. These people, who don’t seem to know the difference between right and wrong, are screaming and yelling right in our faces. They are, at times, very scary people and most, like me, don’t like confrontation and think that maybe if we’re “nicer” to them or if we just stay calm they will back down and leave us alone. Instead, we should be yelling right back at them, fighting for our beliefs as hard as they’re fighting for theirs!
Of course, I don’t want to have to fight; I’d rather these people try to understand my point of view and educate themselves as to why I believe what I believe. I don’t want to stuff my religion down their throat any more than I want their beliefs shoved down mine. As for gay marriage, I’ve always been confused as to why anyone would want to come to a place where they’re not wanted in the first place. Is it simply to prove a point? If so, what is the point? Few people seem to be asking that question but it’s a question that definitely needs an answer. I’m not going to go to an Islamic mosque to prove my freedom of religion and announce to them, “You’d better admit me even if I don’t go along with your doctrine because I have that right to do that and if you don’t allow me to do whatever I choose I will sue you for discrimination!”
Oh my head hurts.
Bottom line, please don’t condemn us, sue us, vandalize us, scrutinize us and boycott us simply because we do not follow your beliefs. By doing so you are proving to be a bigger bigot than any of us will ever be.