“I’m not homophobic, but…”

So I came across this little gem on some random Internet site earlier today:

“I’m not homophobic, but I just believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

It took me a while to ponder that one because my gut reaction was pretty much, “No, no, you’re definitely homophobic!” but then I looked up the actual definition of the word…

unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality.

1955–60; homo(sexual) + -phobia

Related forms:
ho·mo·pho·bic, adjective.

…and the more I analyze it, I suppose you’re not technically homophobic if you “don’t have a problem with gays, but just don’t think they should marry” … in fact, you’re actually something much worse. Because a fear is something that people get over all the time, and it’s typically centered around the unknown … figure out how to put things in perspective and you can work through a fear of heights or the dark or whatever.

But a belief is different because at that point there’s not really an unknown anymore – you’ve made up your mind, and all that’s left is to pass judgement … in this case, by denying other people the same right to marry that you enjoy yourself as a heterosexual simply because they’re different than you. It’s alright to be afraid of things that you don’t understand because eventually if those things become significant enough in our lives, we’re forced with facing our fears and working through those hang-ups like human beings. But to just blatantly proclaim that someone else doesn’t deserve certain rights because of a personal choice of your own beliefs … well, that’s just not very nice and it doesn’t say a whole lot about your character, in my opinion.

And it’s because of this very reason why the Separation of Church and State is so important in our country, and why we need to keep pushing to get gay rights sorted out around here once and for all, because what sense does it make to have laws on our books based on religious beliefs when not everyone in the nation shares those beliefs??? It really baffles me – here, I don’t even believe in God, and yet I’m allowed to get married because I happen to have been born straight, and yet there are plenty of spiritually oriented gay people out there who are denied that same right strictly because of their sexual orientation.

From my perspective it’s pretty simple – you have marriage in the eyes of the government, and you have marriage in the eyes of the church. The first becomes an umbrella for 1,138 rights and privileges that are extended to married citizens by the United States government, and the second can have a variety of definitions, benefits, and responsibilities depending on one’s own personal beliefs. That they happen to share the term marriage is unfortunate simply on account of the constant conflict pitting one against the other, but considering that our constitution guarantees that no national religion will be established, it makes only common sense that the government would have its own definition that would legally stand on its own from the individual interpretations of over 310 different religious denominations throughout the country.

I suppose in the long run I’m not going to lose a whole lot of sleep if you insist on harboring beliefs that just make you not a very nice person, but as long as there are still laws based on your mean-spirited, though admittedly non-homophobic beliefs, then that’s something that needs to change.

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