Gay rights activists have been on a collision course with traditional Catholics, evangelical Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Mormons for some time.
All of these religious groups, and others, hold to the traditional understanding of marriage: it is the union of a man and a woman. Moreover, they believe that children need a father and a mother to serve as role models. They don't need, nor deserve, two members of the same sex as parents.
LGBT activists disagree. That is their right. But they have no right to portray these religious persons—they include tens of millions of Americans—as bigots for simply practicing their faith.
Instead, Christians are increasingly demonized for being Christian. For example, in California there is a bill that would deny a religious exemption to those who profoundly disagree with the gay agenda on “conversion therapy.” Schools that seek a religious exemption have been called by the Assembly Member who introduced the bill “the worst of the worst in terms of institutions that discriminate.”
In Michigan, a Catholic social worker who said she could no longer provide marriage counseling to a gay couple—other counselors were made available to them—was physically intimidated and severely humiliated by her boss. That was before she was fired. To top things off, she was reportedly told to be “a social worker first, and a Catholic second.”
In Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin signed a law that allows a religious exemption to those social service agencies that do not agree with gays adopting children. As Fallin said, “It does not ban same-sex adoption or foster care in Oklahoma.” The Oklahoma bishops issued a statement of gratitude.
This didn't stop the ACLU from accusing those who object to gay adoption as engaging in “religious fanaticism.” The Human Rights Campaign, a gay organization, said the law was “throwing kids under the bus.” A state gay group reportedly called it “state sanctioned hate.”
The war on religious exemptions has never been more aggressive than it is today. This explains why American Atheists, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation all opposed the Oklahoma bill.
The notion that an employee must subordinate his religious status to his professional one is invidious. To be sure, there are legitimate workplace strictures that limit religious expression, but it is not the business of superiors to dictate to their subordinates what their master status should be.
Similarly, we have descended to a new low when terms such as “religious fanaticism” and “state sanctioned hate” are bandied about by organizations that tout the virtue of tolerance and respect for diversity.
Gay rights activists need to think through why so many millions of religious men and women do not believe it is good for society to devalue marriage and the family. That is what happens when we turn these two central institutions into a sexual smorgasbord.
Individual rights cannot always be allowed to trump what is in the best interest of society. A free society needs to be undergirded by more than just democratic institutions—it requires social stability and the wellbeing of its citizens. Those attributes are best met when the only two people who can procreate, a man and a woman, are granted the exclusive right to marry, and where the intact family of father, mother, and children is awarded a privileged position.
There are many opposing groups in society, ranging from gun control to abortion, and there is plenty of passion on both sides. But when one side demonizes the other, rational discourse cannot proceed. It is time gay activists turn down the heat and learn to respect their critics.
Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of seven books and many articles.