Letter to the editor in PG: equal rites vs equal rights?

Today's Post-Gazette includes a letter from Jeffrey O. Mast of Cecil.  Mast supports the secular equality of the LGBTQ community, but draws the line at religious rites.

I was with the gay activists when what they sought was equal protection under the law. Now it seems the gay activists wish to commandeer the word “marriage.” Unless I am wrong, “marriage” is a religious “rite,” not “right.”

It appears the “slippery slope” is in full effect. If we continue with the slippery slope, in five years we will be debating whether a church leader should be forced to perform a marriage ceremony for a gay couple.

Mast is a proponent of the separate but equal approach to civil rights.  A friend of mine asked me a similar question about whether a “secular marriage” using some other term would satisfy me.  I told her that I have no desire to force any religious group to marry me, but the claim that marriage is a religious institution is deceptive.  The term marriage is inextricably intertwined with the civil institution and clearly a part of the fabric of society.  You can't just parse the language because you will always end up with two tiers — gay marriage and “real” marriage. 

Mast's other line of reasoning is that equal rights for the LGBTQ community should not infringe on the religious rights for other people:

 I believe that one's secular rights end where another's secular rights begin. I also believe in equal rights (not rites). Considering the fact that liberals believe that religion and government should be as separate as possible, it baffles me that liberals would insist on appropriating religious terminology.

Why don't religious folks come up with their own special new word and leave secular marriage alone? Hmm.  Seriously, he's playing into the fear that equal rights will destroy religious freedom which is ludicrous.  Lots of things limitt religious freedoms  – tax laws, building inspections, education laws,etc.  Lots of things in society are offensive to one religion or another – consumption of pork/beef, premarital sex, short hair, birth control, female Secretaries of State, etc.  Some you can simply ignore, others you must endure. Taking offense doesn't translate into your rights being violated.  There is no right “not to be offended.”

Still, this letter does illustrate a welcome change from the usual gay bashing rhetoric.  Acknowleding that the LGBTQ community deserves equal protection is a good thing.  That's a shift and, I think, evidence that the gay agenda is working!  🙂  

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