The current controversy over same-sex marriage is becoming more strident as defenders of the traditional definition of marriage seek to restore the long-held restrictions on it and those who believe it should include same-sex couples seek to retain and expand their newfound right to marry.
As each side fights enthusiastically for its views, and whatever the result may be, it would be well for us all to remember that we are dealing with a clash between people’s hopes and dreams on one side and people’s sincerely and strongly held beliefs on the other.
My faith, and the beliefs of millions of believers of other faiths, and of no particular faith, teaches that homosexuality is wrong and that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I am also an attorney, and have many wonderful friends and colleagues who are gay. My belief does not require (or even permit) me to hate them for that, any more than I would hate anyone for any other lifestyle that does not coincide with my own beliefs. I do not hate social drinkers, or heterosexual couples who live together, or people who do any number of other things that go against my own beliefs. Indeed, as one who believes in marriage, I understand the desire of committed gay couples to marry as much as I understand the desire of any couple to marry. That understanding does not change my view that it is not right. I do not expect that my gay friends will share my view, though I can hope that they understand it, as I understand theirs.
And even as I understand their views, those who support same-sex marriage must understand that opposition to their view is largely a matter of deeply rooted moral conviction, not lightly or likely changed by argument. The most eloquent arguments of man are not going to sway those who believe they are following a decree of God. Most people, straight or gay, prefer to live among neighbors who sincerely strive to live up to some moral code and who do what they believe to be right, even if we do not all have the same opinion of what that entails. I appreciate and applaud the efforts of my Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh and Muslim neighbors to do what they believe is right, as well as the efforts of persons of undefined or no faith to do what they believe is right. Society depends on those efforts.
Football players can clash fiercely on the field of competition without hatred. Attorneys argue opposing positions without hatred. People of good will on both sides of the marriage issue should be able to do the same. Whatever the final result, courtesy, kindness and mutual respect must be the watchwords. In this process, if I were to hate my neighbors for wanting to marry, or they were to hate me for believing they should not, both sides will have lost more than either stands to gain by a victory.