|"I'm hiding the pain of my struggle behind this sincere smile."|
According to MLive, "Michigan's House Speaker Jase Bolger says he's 'struggling' with the issue of adding gays to the state's Elliott-Larsen anti-discrimination law which protects citizens in housing, employment, and other areas on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status or marital status." This is what he had to say on the matter:
“I want to respect gay individuals. I don’t want to send a message as a society that we are intolerant. I think that we need to respect people who are different from us, whether they’re different because they believe differently, whether they’re different because they have different skin color, or whether they’re different because they’re straight or gay."
Wow, Speaker Bolger. If you would have just stopped there. You'd go down in history as a man with the political courage and conviction to do the right thing for the people of Michigan. The man who managed to rise above your party's current obsession with partisan obstructionism. But, no:
"The other side of that equation is I also want to respect people’s religious beliefs. And that’s where the struggle really comes in. I want to respect gay people, I want to respect people who have deeply held religious beliefs. And so legally – as a lawmaker now – you go back and you look at Elliott-Larsen, and it gets very difficult to try to balance those two. And that encapsulates the struggle. The struggle is how do we respect individuals on both sides of this question. I want to respect the individual rights of someone who’s gay. And I also, in doing that, don’t want to force somebody to ignore or violate their religious beliefs.”
Ah, yes. By updating one of the most comprehensive anti-discrimination laws in the country to protect gay people from things like getting fired or kicked out of their apartment for simply being a gay person, you're disrespecting religious freedom. This struggle you're facing! What a conundrum!
The truth is, extending civil protections to gay people does absolutely nothing to infringe on religious liberty. Would legally protecting LGBT people from discrimination make it harder for "deeply religious persons" to perhaps, hide their disdain for homos behind a Jesus shield? Yes it would. But that's a good thing, Jass. That's a good thing.
The number of church leaders, scholars and people of faith who accept the notion that loving gay people and loving Jesus are not mutually exclusive, is growing every single day. Not only that, most came to this conclusion after thoughtful study of Biblical text and deep discussion with their friends, neighbors and pastors. In other words, after struggling with the issue.
Whereas the "no homo" right-wing Christian crowd is not only dwindling, but causing a substantial number of young people to leave the church and question their faith. Interestingly, this anti-gay interpretation of Christianity is rarely backed up by thoughtful scholarly interpretation of Biblical text. Instead, there's a lot of "feelings" and a willingness to ignore anything that would contradict these "feelings." Which one of these Biblical interpretations is healthier for society and the church itself? The inclusive one that preaches about an all-loving God or the exclusive one that kicks the Boy Scouts out of their church for daring to accept and affirm gay youth?
I think it's pretty clear. And considering almost three in four Americans believe it’s inevitable that same-sex marriage will be legalized in the United States, your "struggle" with affording gay people basic legal protections seems disingenuous at best and a thwart of the will of the people at worst. You aren't "disrespecting" Christians by amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. But you are disrespecting yourself and the people of state of Michigan with your political cowardice and extremist pandering. So I guess we all lose. So it is written.