I recently stumbled upon Allen B West's egregious blog "Here's EXACTLY why the Religious Freedom Act is so important." It was very important to call it the "Religious Freedom Act" as opposed to the "Gay People Are Icky Act." You know. Catchier.
West starts by pointing out that he's all right with gays. He points out that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman and if gay people choose civil union that's their business, but it's in no way a right. It's his right to define marriage, of course. That's because Allen B West has tradition on his side. God knows what he makes of female suffrage. Traditionally women couldn't vote and there must have been a good reason. You know. Because of tradition. So presumably he's against that too.
West finds liberal views "interesting." It's a choice of words that sets himself up as reasonable, scholarly father figure patiently indulging the follies and impetuousness of his charges, but then he rather spoils it somewhat by describing liberal views as "rants." He then completely breaks cover by describing homosexuality as a "lifestyle choice" which suggests that gay people are gay because they're just incredibly stubborn. Perhaps all giraffes could have been horses but they were too up themselves. By defining homosexuality as some kind of whimsical choice as opposed to an innate fact, the American Right can seek to undermine the issue completely. They use the same crappy tactic with Climate Change.
The idea that anyone would choose to be gay in conservative America is bizarre. Would you really choose to be marginalised, abused, bullied or beaten up? But this has become an all too common ploy among the powerful these days. American homophobes rather cynically set themselves up as victims of an oppressive Liberal junta, as if anyone has ever been flung from a building or executed for NOT accepting homosexuality! The persecutors don the mantle of the persecuted. The BNP's Nick Griffin previously tried to rebrand British whites as a threatened "indigenous people." Given what white Brits, historically, has done to indigenous peoples worldwide, it's pretty shameless stuff.
'Freedom of religion' and its associated constitutional posturing is a smokescreen. Rather than saying "gays make my tummy feel weird" it's better to say something about religion, because then your irrational anger can be justified in some sober sense of dignified gravitas. Allen also throws in a bit of history. If in doubt, throw in some history.
"I find it odd that we are now in the religious persecution mode, which is why Pilgrims came to America in the first place."
Unfortunately Allen only has a limited grasp of history. The Pilgrims were NOT fleeing persecution. The Pilgrims came to create a more puritanical state. They saw England as a lax den of iniquity, not because they were being persecuted. If anything they came to persecute. In that respect, their legacy runs strong. So, nice story, but bears no resemblance to actual history. Still, as Chopper Reed put it, "never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn."
"So let me present a simple question: is it fair for someone to be forced to accept a lifestyle choice from another that is inconsistent with their freedom of religion and free exercise thereof. "
Forget about Christian love and acceptance or any of the other nonsense that Jesus spouted, conservative Americans must be allowed to express their Old Testament beliefs to not like homosexuality. The same book also forbids them to eat shellfish or any kind of fat or wear mixed fabrics (seriously - Leviticus 19:19) but Allen B West doesn't care about THOSE bits of his precious religion. They don't justify his aversion to men having a smooch whilst he's trying to eat his fatty shellfish sub in an evangelical Christian brand polyester polo shirt.
Meanwhile, according to Allen, the government speaks out against homophobia and so is massively hypocritical for dealing with a homophobic country. What's truly "disturbing" is Allen's logic. The idea that you will only deal with countries who reflect your exact values is impossible. Iran may have some pretty hoorendous policies, but they are fixie-riding hipsters compared to Islamic State, and Iran is a key player in defeating IS. The happenings in a cake shop have nothing to do with international politics. Hardline Republicans know this but they have a higher ideal in mind - power.
West then infers that because gay and lesbians are not persecuted in the way that his black parents were, they have no real right to complain. He then says "we have charlatans like Al Sharpton who will try to equate this to race -- incomparable." But you JUST DID! You've just equated it to race!
Because West doesn't believe that homosexuality is innate he can't see that it's a lot like race. Even so, he believes that cake shop owners are well within their rights to feel religiously persecuted! Religiously persecuted? Why? Do they have to live in icing ghettos or wear little cakes on their jackets to show they own cake shops?
Allen believes this boils down to "a certain group that seeks to impose its lifestyle and behavioral choice upon others." I've always found this argument utterly disingenuous. It's not as if the Indianapolis couple wanted to impose their lifestyle choice on to the baker or invite them to a massive cake-based orgy. They just wanted the cake they wanted. If a kid wants a Power Ranger cake, this doesn't suggest that the baker should then be compelled to like the Power Rangers. Opponents of gay marriage somehow hold the contradictory beliefs that they have the right to interfere in the relationship of two consenting adults and yet it is they who are being somehow imposed upon!
During one of my fruitless Twitter arguments I made the mistake of suggesting that you didn't have to be pro-gay marriage to allow gay people the freedom to marry. Someone tweeted back "Remember my freedom to not participate in it." Don't worry. You won't be invited to the ceremony! I hear these gay folk have a dim view of mixed fabrics.