Let me start off by saying I support gay marriage wholeheartedly.
Everyone should be afforded the same rights.
That being said, I also believe people should have the right to oppose same-sex marriage based on their religious beliefs, without being mocked and vilified for it.
Or worse, losing their job over it.
Frankly, I found the backlash directed at former Rogers Sportsnet anchor Damian Goddard and hockey agent Todd Reynolds for their opposition to same-sex marriage this week disturbing. Frightening even.
Neither said they hate gay people. What they said was that they oppose same-sex marriage based on their religious beliefs.
Yet both have been unmercifully attacked and ridiculed, on Twitter particularly. Sportsnet fired Goddard, even though the network insisted he wasn%E2%80%99t fired specifically because of his opposition towards same-sex marriage. Of course, no one really believes that.
There seems to be a double standard here with the message being: If you don%E2%80%99t believe what we believe, we%E2%80%99ll brand you a hater and a bigot and run you out of town.
Is that right? Is it okay to automatically brand someone, and ridicule someone, because they oppose same-sex marriage?
Does opposing same-sex marriage based on a religious belief make you a hater, even when you insist that you don%E2%80%99t hate gay people?
Many of our neighbours don%E2%80%99t believe in same sex marriage because of their religious beliefs. I have friends who believe the same.
And I would venture to say that most Muslims, and certainly many Catholics, and people of other faiths, don%E2%80%99t believe in same-sex marriage because of their religious beliefs.
Does that automatically make them haters and bigots?
I can%E2%80%99t believe that.
Again, I support same-sex marriage and I%E2%80%99m not a religious person. In fact, I believe religion is the cause of far too much misery in the world and some people spew hate and bigotry in the name of their religion. Which, of course, is wrong. But if my neighbour, someone I believe to be a good person, holds certain beliefs and tells me that he doesn%E2%80%99t hate anyone, then I%E2%80%99m not going to automatically turn against him.
Is hate not a two-way street?
Why is it okay for people on Twitter to mock and ridicule Goddard and celebrate the fact he got fired? Is ridicule not hate? Is mocking not hate? Is calling someone a %E2%80%9Cignorant f%$#%E2%80%9D because he opposes same sex marriage based on his religious beliefs not hate? Is piling on not hate? Twitter nation went on a feeding frenzy, vilifying and mocking Reynolds and Goddard for their stance.
I felt sorry for them.
And when I went on Twitter the other night to make that point, people automatically started to brand me. It%E2%80%99s bullying, and the really disturbing part is that you know people are going to keep their mouths shut from now on for fear of facing a similar backlash.
Nobody should blindly hate. And nobody has the right to brand someone or hate someone because they hold certain religious beliefs %E2%80%94 even if we don%E2%80%99t agree with them.
Do we want to live in a society where, if you don%E2%80%99t believe in something like same-sex marriage because of your faith, you have to be silent for fear of being ridiculed en masse, or for fear of losing your job?
Is that what we want in our society?
Because, I%E2%80%99ll tell you what, if I was against same-sex marriage based on faith (and, again, I%E2%80%99m all for same-sex marriage), I would never speak my mind, not after what Reynolds and Goddard went through.
There are too many places in the world where free speech is not allowed. But you have to wonder what%E2%80%99s worse %E2%80%94 not being allowed to speak up, or being afraid to speak up?