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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

This column is in response to my fellow Christians who insist they’re not bigots just because they oppose marriage equality. I’ve been hearing from them a lot after writing a short essay and posting it on Facebook in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

I don’t usually quote from my own Facebook posts, but plenty of newspaper readers aren’t on social media. Even if you are, I don’t assume you’re hanging on my every word there.

First, a little background: I wrote the essay the day after the Supreme Court ruling, on Saturday, June 27. I posted it less than an hour before my husband and I, now 11 years into our second marriages, drove to a friend’s wedding, which was not the first for either the bride or the groom. How easily each of us was allowed to try again in this country.

My Facebook post:

I’ve seen quite the flurry of social media posts suggesting those of us who are celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision are not behaving as gracious winners. We should show more understanding toward those who are disappointed, the critics say. We should not “rub it in.” Other commonly spotted criticisms of our joy: We are gloating. We are insensitive. We are being poor sports.

For decades, I have seen the bigotry of homophobia break up families, ruin careers and destroy lives. I’ve read — and written — too many stories about gay teens who chose suicide over another day of bullying — from classmates and strangers, and sometimes from their own family members. Children. Killing themselves because they felt unlovable as the human beings they were born to be.

Over the years, I hosted so many gay friends for holiday celebrations because their own families made clear they were not welcome to come home. I have sat and cried with too many gay friends whose hearts were broken after their fellow citizens passed one hateful piece of anti-gay legislation after another. I have watched so-called Christians pray publicly for the death of people I love. I have seen them do this outside of funerals, their young children holding signs that say, “GOD HATES FAGS.”

This is not a sports championship we’re celebrating. We are not victors in a political campaign.

We are cheering for something that will not harm the lives or the marriages of anyone like me, a heterosexual who got not one, but two government-sanctioned tries to form a more perfect union. We are overjoyed, and we are relieved. America really is better than our worst behavior.

As a straight ally, this has been our shame to bear, this government endorsement of second-class citizenship to people we know, people we love. How many times have I tried to assure my friends and loved ones that most of us don’t feel this way about them? How many times have I fallen silent to their rebuttals, their ability to point to what sometimes seemed to be overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

All of that is now history.

I don’t want to harness my joy to make the bigots feel more comfortable. I will not temper my celebration to make those who oppose same-sex marriage feel better about their self-righteousness. I am not celebrating their misery. They didn’t lose anything.

I am rejoicing for my gay brothers and sisters. I am welcoming them home.

Tens of thousands of readers have responded positively to the post, but a significant minority who identify as Christian objected. Some posted the vile sort of stuff that always prompts the happy exercise of my index finger over the “delete” button. Others offered the usual rant of God hating the sin but loving the sinner, often ending with a string of Old Testament citations.

Many were particularly defensive about my use of the word “bigots.” How dare I disparage all Christians, they said. They were following God’s word, they insisted.

This was a fascinating sub-thread of commentary, for its assumptions as much as its assertions. I never said all Christians are bigots. I’m a Christian, flawed and forever practicing. I know so many other Christians who, like me, have long supported same-sex marriage.

My objection is to those Christians who wield their Bible as a weapon to oppress others. When we talk about marriage equality, the difference between “I don’t approve” and “it ought to be illegal” is the difference between intolerance and bigotry.

I am embarrassed to hear narrow minds masquerading as God’s spokespeople. I am outraged to see them co-opt my religion to rain down harm on innocent people. And let’s be clear: If you feel free to say to others that God doesn’t approve of who they were born to be, you are inflicting nothing but pain.

You can say it’s just your opinion, just you being Christian, but I suggest you take a look around. Love is bursting out all around you. With or without you, justice is marching on.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and an essayist for Parade magazine. She is the author of two books, including …and His Lovely Wife, which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz ([email protected]) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Photo: John W. Iwanski via Flickr

  • FireBaron

    Here is something to add to the discussion – yesterday (July 1) the American Episcopal church approved the celebration of Same Sex weddings within their denomination. I imagine that is going to cause even more of their ultra-conservative members to switch over to the Anglo-Catholic breakaway group, leading to more legal battles over who actually owns the church buildings – the local congregation or the diocese.

  • AgLander

    To be completely accurate, the headline should actually read: “What A Hate Day For Homosexuals”……instead of celebrating their victory with the Supremes as one would expect, the gays seem just as angry and bitter as before the Court’s decision. That’s because they despise religion and those of faith and their desire to attack religion is even stronger than their desire to attain any of the “equal rights” they claim they are being denied. I firmly believe that if they were given the choice of giving up the recent Supreme Court decision in favor of the abolishment of all religions, they would quickly take the latter. That is the true definition of hate.

    • latebloomingrandma

      “To be completely accurate-“—I don’t think so. There is nothing accurate about your post. It is your opinion, of which you have a right to express. One should not confuse the two.

    • Daniel Jones

      Except that none of that is true.

    • gmccpa

      First, your statement is completely inaccurate. Second, you had us with ‘the gays’. We get it.

    • BillP

      No the true definition of hate is what you just wrote. It’s ignorant, not factual and bigoted. Typical of a low information right wing troll.

    • chris968

      What in the world are you talking about? Stop crying “persecution” and “oppression” because a minority group of people who you don’t even know are finally given some of the same rights you’ve had all your life. Nobody is taking away your right to practice your religion, but you have no right to force your beliefs upon anybody else legally. All I saw was celebration last Friday. Celebration, tears of joy, smiles, the happiness of myself and my friends that we can FINALLY legally be married in any of the 50 states and have our love recognized by the government. You are pathetic, thinking that our intention is to “attack religion”. Our intention is to achieve equal rights for ourselves, something people like you seem to think we don’t deserve.

    • Seamus

      Oh, boy! Another person who thinks that the Venn diagram of supporters of equal rights and Christians consists of two non-overlapping circles. How scary it must be to realize that it just ain’t so.
      No, it’s not a hate filled day. Do some people sound angry? Sure, but what do you expect when people are attacked again after years of attacks, both physical and verbal, on a day when the world has changed to recognize their basic human rights and dignity?
      Do any of them want to destroy your rights? Nope.

      But if you live under the delusion that other people having rights in some way diminishes yours, maybe
      Look, you are way off base. More supporters of equality are religious than non-religious. No one would give up their human rights in order to hurt you or your religion. Either you are delusional or hyperbolic.

  • ham hock

    Combine militant conservative indoctrination and religious brainwashing and you have a recipe for bigotry. These people feel they are truly correct, that their world view is the only correct one. Not only that, but their leaders constantly keep them in fear and paranoia. Saying you arent a true christian unless you verbally persecute all who dont hold true to the bible. If you look at their media it is clear as day that they are being brainwashed, and they refuse to see reality. Christianity is a runaway doomsday cult that got too big and too powerful for its own good. And no good will come out of these people until they finally wise up and reject their indoctrination. It will never happen.

    • David

      Reject the truth? Never!!! Homosexuality is sin. The Bible says so. However, I dont revile gays just because they sin differently than I do. I pray for them and hate their sin.

  • turtlewoman1039

    Marriage is a legal contract. MA legalized same sex marriage in 2004 and has survived quite well since then.
    Don’t approve of same sex marriage? You are entitled to your beliefs. You are entitled to complain and to condemn within your homes, among your friends, in your PRIVATE, NOT PUBLIC FUNDED schools. The SC ruling does nothing to change your Constitutional right to believe as you want. It does not mean that you are required to perform some religious ceremony for same sex couples.
    What the ruling does mean is that same sex couples are entitled to the equal right to enter into a legal contract called marriage. Within your churches, you can define marriage however you want but same sex couples can now legally enter into a SECULAR marriage contract.
    You are angry because you and your particular set of religious beliefs and interpretations have not been codified into law or used to make a legal interpretation for EVERYONE else.
    I’m heterosexual and recognizing the right of other Americans to have the legal right to enter into a marriage contract doesn’t threaten my sexuality or diminish opposite sex marriage in any way.