In a NYTs op-ed earlier this year I wrote:
And to my deep regret, much of the opposition to gay marriage seems to stem, at least in part, from an underlying anti-gay animus.
That sentence got me into a heap of trouble with many good people who oppose gay marriage. I was told many times, often in quite passionate terms, that this statement is factually untrue; that opposition to gay marriage typically stems from sincere religious belief that cannot be fairly described as animus; that opposing gay marriage is fundamentally about supporting marriage, not thinking ill of gay people or wishing them harm; and that, in general, arguing against gay marriage has little if any connection to arguing against gay people or against homosexual conduct per se.
Well, this is a serious discussion, and I am still seriously thinking about these very strong responses from good people to what I wrote.
Further, I know that one incident does not prove much. But this incident from Maryland the other day did manage to get my attention:
A Maryland pastor who suggested supporters of same-sex marriage deserve to die refuses to back down from his vehemently anti-gay statements. Rev. Robert Anderson, of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md., made the remark at a town hall meeting last week about the upcoming vote on Question 6, the referendum challenging the state’s legalization of same-sex marriage. “Those who practice such things are worthy of death,” Anderson said. “If we don’t vote against it, then we are approving these things that are worthy of death.” Anderson says he was simply quoting scripture. “That’s not my words,” he told NBC Washington. “That’s from Romans Chapter 1 written by the Apostle Paul himself.” He explained that same-sex marriage supporters — not just gay people — are worthy of death because “they are promoting the lifestyle and they are promoting what same-sex marriage is all about, and that is what we are standing against.”
But Pastor Anderson’s comments aren’t really what got my attention. What got my attention was the response from the executive director of the main group in Maryland opposing gay marriage. He said:
“Any attempt to imply that Dr. Anderson’s reading of scripture was a call to harm gays and lesbians is false and serves as a distraction from the real issues of the campaign.”
Hmmm. Guy on a public panel quoting the Bible says homosexuals are worthy of death, and that the gay marriage question is “all about” that very thing that God says is worthy of death. And yet none of this should be viewed by anyone as “a call to harm gays and lesbians”; and overall, we’re to understand that opposing gay marriage (which is the “real issue”) is not, is absolutely not, about being opposed to gay persons. All clear now?