A bigot is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as “one who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.” Ever since the fight over our country’s definition of marriage began, the word “bigot” has been used far too often as a description for anyone who believes in conservative Jewish, Christian, or Muslim values. Most of us simply believe that no government can define marriage because God has already defined it as a sacred union between a man and a woman. My religion also teaches that everyone is deserving of both God’s love and my kindness. So please stop calling me a bigot because I’m not one — I’m just a conservative Christian trying to hold firm to my religious principles.
And for those people who are standing at the pulpits of their churches, mosques, and synagogues: please stop slamming your fists into that pulpit and declaring that an entire group of people are “sinners.” By the Bible’s definition, we are all sinners and we are all God’s children. And by the way, didn’t Jesus mock the hypocrite more than any other type of sinner out there? Any hope of being tolerant is lost when a person pretends to hide behind the mask of religion while actually standing on the soap box of hatred and homophobia. So please stop calling gay Americans “sinners” — I’m fairly certain that God has already filled the position as judge of our souls and he can do a much better job of it.
For thousands of years, clergymen have performed marriages without any government giving them permission. According to the Constitution, no one has the “right” to marry in this country, but we do have the right to vote. The Constitution does prohibit the judicial branch from overtaking the democratic process and the first amendment does guarantee the right of religion. The voice of the people isn’t always fair and it isn’t always just, but forcing the courts to decide this issue will only cause more animosity and less tolerance. So please stop using “we the people” because you disagree with the law — it will not change my religious beliefs or make a homophobic person any less ignorant.
Now for you young people out there: a phrase that has come to signify an African-American’s right to be treated as a full citizen of the United States, the Civil Rights movement, is being misused by you to define the gay American’s belief that they are being deprived of the right to marry who they love. While I think it is a glaring truth that many gay Americans have been mistreated by ignorant people over the course of their lives, they were not brought over to this country in chains, or forced to use separate bathrooms, or denied the right to vote. The Constitution never defined gay Americans as three-fifths of a person and thousands of men have not had to die to defend them. If any of that were true, I would be picketing the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court with a rainbow sign in my hand and proudly marching for the cause. You have been brought up in a country that still has a long way to go on this issue, but you have been raised as a generation more color-blind than any in our history. You have lived to see the first African-American president take office and only read about the shooting of Martin Luther King Jr. in a book. So please stop comparing the gay American cause to the Civil Rights movement — they have not had to give their lives or literally break chains to be treated as human beings.
And finally, a note to myself ...
I was recently reunited over Facebook with an old friend from high school. She is an intelligent, funny, and loving person who has spent the last few years taking care of her mother, who has multiple sclerosis. She also happens to be a gay American. For years in middle school and high school, I watched her being taunted and tormented by teenagers as they hurled gay slurs and for all of those years those words cut her like cruel arrows aimed perfectly at her self worth. Often I defended her and sometimes I stood by silently and watched. To that frightened teenager who was too afraid to protect my friend as I should have — go back in time and proudly stand by her whether you agree with what she believes in or not.
— Tiffany Miller is a Tahoe resident and mother. Visit her website at http://mycrayonbox.org.