Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what's really going on behind the scenes of the current shouting match over LGBT rights in the US. On one side, we have the LGBT activists and champions telling the public what they shouldn’t have to tell them: LGBT people deserve the same rights straight people have. It seems like a no-brainer but sometimes you need to say these things aloud.
On the other side are the vengeful hatemongers that take issue with anyone who isn’t a straight white Christian male. The LGBT community is the current target but we’re far from the only one. It changes every few decades when another minority stands up and demands respect. Such demands get their panties in a bunch. They break out the poster board and the bullhorns and wave their smug superiority around like a flag.
In between is a vast expanse of citizens who have opinions that aren’t making it into the press because it’s hard to shout down a guy with a bullhorn. I’ve suspected for several years that the opinion of the “average American” isn’t really being heard. I know quite a few Christians who have a deeply rooted faith in their religion but also think the butter has slipped off the noodles of the extreme conservatives. They find the rhetoric as insulting and depressing as we do because those extremists who claim to be speaking for all religious people have stolen their voice and used it to profess things they as average Christians don’t really believe.
According to the polls, the balance on the marriage equality scale has tipped in our favor but according to the news all religious types still hate us with a passion and would love to either cure us or kill us. The disconnect isn’t a shock. The press prints what sells and let’s be honest hate sells. Still, under all the bold-print headlines claiming a black and white divide are smaller stories that say something different. They are reports of a well-known Mormon athlete making a public stand in favor of LGBT rights, the Pope softening the Catholic Church’s approach, the increasing number of voters approving marriage equality. These provide a much more accurate representation of the current climate.
Here are the facts that aren’t making it into the papers. According to a recent article in The Atlantic, ten years ago marriage equality was supported by 34 percent of Protestants and 36 percent of Catholics. The numbers are currently 55 and 57 respectively. The Evangelical Protestants, which are notoriously the biggest source of religious hostility toward the concept, have grown from 11 percent to 24.
Does that mean our battle is over? Hell no but it means we have a lot fewer enemies than we’ve been led to believe. Yes, there are still pockets of extreme homophobia that need to be dealt with but the next time you read a story where a nutcase in a fancy suit says all LGBT people are evil and everybody hates them feel free to take it with a grain of salt. Just because they speak as if they represent the masses doesn’t mean they actually do. More likely it’s the ranting of a person with a bloated ego and a FOX News addiction…somebody really needs to start a 12-step program for that.
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