So, we’re told not to mention race.  When we call, talk about, or lobby concerning marriage equality or anti-discrimination laws that affect homosexual, intersex and transgender people, we are told not to use analogies to race.  Those analogies do not “test well”.  The reason, of course, is that those against gay rights do not want to see themselves in the same light as those against rights for non-whites.  They don’t want to see themselves as bigoted.  When race is mentioned, those against gay rights shut down and become defensive.  The conversation generally becomes less open, they double-down, and they are less likely to reconsider their position.

However, the analogies are so strong, so direct, avoiding them almost seems like a lie.  A Missouri Pastor, during a Spring Field Public hearing, made this quite clear.

In response to this video posted on Gawker, ursasolus attempted to assert that the analogy fails: that homosexuality is an action and that ethnicity is a state of being.

There is your difference; because the person born into an ethnicity can not chose to be another. To compare gay “rights” to the issue of the civil rights movement is an insult to those that fought to gain racial justice and equality.

Of course, there is not equivalence.  Nobody’s experience is equivalent to another.  A black person who immigrated recently to the U.S. does not have the same shared experience as the descendents of slaves.  A woman facing pay discrimination in the U.S. does not have the same shared experience as a woman in Afghanistan being forced to stay in her home without a male relative to escort her outside.  Taking analogies too far, are taking them too far.

However, this analogy has not been taken too far.  If you somehow think that the injustices against homosexuals throughout history are insignificant to other groups, it is simply because your history text book didn’t want to offend anyone by mentioning “the gays“.

The person commenting put the word “rights” in quotation marks.  It is clear, that the issue is not false equivalency, but, according to the person commenting, gay rights are not really rights.  Gay rights are “rights”.

The mentality of this person who was offended by the analogy seems simple enough: Gays don’t deserve rights.

Gays have committed a sin.  Because of that sin, they have given up those rights.  Non-whites are not being discriminated against due to sin, therefor that is wrong and discriminating against gays is right.  Society should not be stopped from punishing those who have sinned.

A good argument can be made that perhaps the government and society should not be in the business of punishing people for sin.  That radical idea was articulated a long time ago, you know, in James 4:12 (and a lot of other places in the New Testament):

God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

A good argument can be made that “rights” for any group are rights, that the limit to one’s rights are others’ rights, and that the “right” to oppress is no right at all.

When arguments of civil rights and theology are brought up, however, this galvanizes many people.

How can anyone who wishes to persuade others express this reality without closing down the conversation with those who have strong reactions contrary to seeing homosexual, intersex, or transgender people as deserving of rights?

The cold truth of that is, well, sometimes it’s impossible.

In the Minnesotans United for All Families call script, if someone has said that zie is for the amendment, you ask, “Do you think it’s ok to be gay?”.  If they say “no”, you say:

“Thank you for your time.”