The last thing I want is to have my gay wedding on Fire Island with pizza and flowers by Christian fundamentalists and Senator Ted Cruz as a guest. But here we are at the heart of America’s cultural war and whether we as a nation can create a more perfect union.
Christian fundamentalists, having lost most of the court cases in the last few years, are encouraging service providers (e.g. pizza parlors and flowers shops) to deny gay people services based on moral or religious grounds. The gay community is calling for a boycott of Ian Reiser’s businesses (e.g. on Fire Island) because he had dinner with Senator Ted Cruz, its version of the Antichrist. The Supreme Court in its veiled attempt at not being partisan held hearings on the matter and will dictate a solution in an all or nothing blockbuster decision this summer.
To be honest, the last thing I want is to have anyone cater my wedding that does not wish me a long and happy life with my partner. I had my wedding without them, and it was beautiful. I am very loved. They would just be a downer. However, the question is whether these people are discriminating and what we as a society should do about it. Is denying services to a gay couple discrimination? The simple answer is yes.
Fundamentalists are trying to institutionalize a segregated society under the mantle of “love the sinner hate the sin”. Today it is denying gay people services; tomorrow it can be you. Once you set a precedence, the intellectual leap to justifying segregation just got smaller. Do born-again Christians have a right to deny services to Muslims, or Muslim to Jews? Should and Orthodox man be allowed to refuse women services. Do people have a right to deny services to single mothers or divorced fathers because they are not of the faith? Will women who have abortions no longer be allowed to enter the very same pizza parlor and flower shop that denied services to the gay couples? Whose moral compass will we use? Let’s take it further and ask could we have the right to stay in our ethnic and linguistic communities and deny for example English speaking Americans services in Spanish-speaking stores? The answer is categorically no. That is not who we are as a nation.
The complicated answer is that we are all human, and it is less clear cut. I ask myself how I would feel if the owner of the pizza parlor or the flower shop were my parents. Most probably, I would be really angry and even disappointed and hurt; but I would walk away and hope that one day they would come around. Should they be punished for their struggle? Not really. I did not punish my family for not attending my wedding. We just accept that some people need a little more time. It is not malicious intent that moves them, just ignorance and fear and that can be worked on.
The gains in the last year have energized the community. This highly charged atmosphere has created a “we-they” mentality. A decision in our favor at the high court will not end the fight for equality. It is only beginning. In Europe much has changed in the last decade since marriage equality became a reality in manyEuropean countries, and it is still ongoing. We need to keep doing outreach; and whether we like it or not, we need to keep talking to those who hate us the most.
As much as I hate Ted Cruz, Ian Reiser’s has every right not to be punished for his political views. At the heart of the anti-discrimination legislation is the belief that no one should be persecuted in any way for who they are or what they believe. This applies to us as gay people seeking to form a family, to the mom and pop businesses, and to gay Republicans. If you ask me I would hug Ted and let him know he is loved…God knows he probably needs it. We should visit the pizza parlor and flower shop and get to know the owners. Maybe we could bring our children along, and let them see that gay families are beautiful. Let’s focus our energies on the 2016 elections which will be historic for the gay rights movement, and let’s show unity and love going forward. We’re on the right side of history.