I’m voting Yes

24 10 2012

I’ll come right out and say this: I’m voting Yes to the marriage amendment in November. And I have a simple request: please stop hating me. Please stop calling me a bigot, a homophobe, a hateful ignoramus. I get it. Supporting traditional marriage is not a popular opinion to espouse. It’s not a very trendy way to believe right now. People disagree with my political opinion. But when did that make it okay to attack me as a person? When did it become acceptable to so viciously go after someone who simply disagrees with you?

As far as campaigns go, the vast majority of hatred and harsh rhetoric has come from one side in this debate. And when you’re out-hating the dreaded ‘homophobes’, you know you’re doing something wrong.

Can we make this a civil discussion? Can we work to add respect to the debate? Yes, I’m voting yes. But I can understand why so many of my peers will vote no. If your conscience or your system of morality compels you to vote against this amendment, then you have every right to vote your conscience. I can disagree with you as firmly as I want, but I can’t deny your right to both hold an opinion and cast a vote based on it. But here’s the kicker: the people who disagree with you have that exact same right. We can discuss the issue all we want – in fact, I (along with most Yes-voters) am happy to engage in a serious conversation about the whys. But calling me a bigot, putting words in my mouth, and assuming all Yes voters are ignorant, uneducated, and scared? That’s not getting us anywhere. And telling me I have no right to cast my vote on a government amendment? Well that’s just a poor understanding of democracy.

But isn’t that imposing your morality (and a frequently-religious morality) on everyone else? That’s wrong, right?

It’s a popular argument. But one that ignores something very basic: all law, in its simplest form, is nothing more than codified morality. That’s right. Every law in place in this country is a piece of morality imposed on us all as citizens. But that’s the price we pay for the civil society we get to enjoy. What’s great about democracy is that we get a say in what morality is written into law. We all get a say. Every one of us – no matter what social class we come from, what color our skin is, or what religion (if any) we follow.

This is where the “imposing religion” argument begins to break down. I have a right to vote my conscience, just as you do. But the argument being passed around today says that if my conscience is influenced by my religious beliefs, suddenly I lose the right to vote on the things important to me. How does that make sense? How is the fact that my beliefs are influenced by my religion make me any less deserving of democracy than you, when your beliefs are influenced the same way: either by your personal religion, or personal non-religion?

You can’t take away someone’s right to participate in the political process because you don’t like where they got their beliefs. We all get our beliefs somewhere, and we all have the right to cast a vote based on them.

Hating on someone because you don’t like their beliefs (or don’t like where their beliefs come from) isn’t right. Plain and simple. If you want to engage in a real, fair conversation where ideas are respectfully exchanged and issues are actually examined, I’m all for it. But we need to stop with the oversimplifications, the “bigot”-slinging, the straw men, all of it. As it stands now, it’s an ominous indicator of the state of our society as a whole: when the ones who are supposed to be on the side of tolerance are this, well, intolerant, we know we’re all in a world of trouble.

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