Monday, October 27, 2008

Tolerance of the "No" Campaign

I've spoken before in this space about the difference between tolerance and acceptance. I've stated that Proposition 8 is not a question of tolerance, as traditional marriage can certainly co-exist with same-sex partnerships without bloodshed, and has for many years. Instead, Proposition 8 is about stopping the legal enforcement of acceptance of same-sex "marriage" as equivalent to traditional marriage upon every person in the state of California.

I spent some time last Saturday on a street corner waving a sign that simply said "Vote Yes on Prop 8!" It had no additional wording, and for any passerby who didn't know what that was, it wouldn't have told them enough to make an informed decision. Nevertheless, what I experienced was that nearly everybody that drove by seemed to know what it was. Interestingly, a very good percentage of the people who drove by actually honked in approval. Many passed by without honking, and didn't respond either way. Nevertheless, it was the minority that I wanted to speak about today.

You see, the minority was extremely negative to me and the others with me. We often received stern looks, the "finger", shouts of "bigot!" (mis-applied and mis-used, mind you), and more thumbs-downs than you can shake a stick at. Interestingly, demographically, the bulk of the people who responded in this manner were teenage kids too young to vote, or women driving alone in their car. Not once did I see a heterosexual couple with kids in the back seat give a negative response. What does that say about this issue?

Our little sign-waving party, our demonstration, went on peacefully and respectfully. To those who agreed, we smiled and nodded, and to those who disagreed, we ... smiled and nodded. We respect the right of others to disagree, but really, really hope that most people agree that traditional marriage should be preserved.

The "No" campaign says that this whole issue is one of tolerance. I believe that, too, and I really do not have any problem with people who practice homosexual behavior in privacy. I just don't want that minority of people to re-define for the majority what marriage means. It's not about "rights", as the "No" campaign will shout until they can't shout any more. Homosexuality is a behavior, and an arguably deviant one. In this way it is much like drinking alcohol which, despite its largely social acceptance, is not a good thing. Regarding alcohol, I respect people's freedom to choose, but I draw the line at teaching my kids in school that drinking alcohol is good. In much the same way, I can tolerate gays and lesbians just fine, but just don't teach my kids that same-sex "marriage" is good and right and normal.

Nevertheless, this is an election. Ultimately, the will of the people will be expressed next Tuesday. I really hope it goes as I want it to, but I fear that it will not. In the meantime, I am exercising my right to demonstrate, to be active in the political process, and to engage my friends, neighbors, and, yes, total strangers in a dialog to explain to them why I feel the way that I do.

As I've stated before, I've put signs on my front lawn urging others to vote "Yes on Prop 8". Four times my signs have been stolen. Once the sign has been mangled and left in my driveway. If the "No" campaign is all about tolerance, then why do they keep stealing my signs?! Attempting to deprive me of my constitutional right to express my religious beliefs and my freedom of speech does nothing but hurt your point of view. And trust me, I've got plenty more signs, so it doesn't do any good.

I ran across an interesting article on how we should disagree, but not be unkind. It's worth reading, I believe. There is just over a week until the election. I hope it goes my way. It might not, and for that I would be extremely sad, and more than a little anxious. Between now and then, though, I will indeed disagree with the "No" campaign, with every breath; but you won't catch me being unkind.

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