Regarding Homosexuality And My “Friends”

I have never watched “Duck Dynasty” and didn’t exactly lose a lot of sleep over the show’s patriarch Phil Robertson, going on a homophobic rant. As someone else said somewhere, what do you expect when you put on a reality show about dyed-in-the-wool rednecks? Granted, not all rednecks are homophobes, but the Duck Dynasty people weren’t exactly selected for the show on the basis of socially enlightened attitudes.

The guy has the right to be a homophobe and bigot. And if A&E wants to drop him from the show, that’s their right. Those of you who say “But what about his freedom of speech!!!” are sort of missing the point — he’s entitled to say whatever he wants and the government can’t restrict that under the First Amendment, but a private entity like A&E is not required to give him a platform.

Unfortunately, as a result of the whole kerfluffle, some people on my Facebook and Twitter friends list have taken to championing Robertson’s cause and saying things like “I Stand With Phil Robertson.”

If you “stand with Phil Robertson” because you think A&E shouldn’t have suspended him from the show, that’s your right. No one is making you watch “Duck Dynasty.”

But on the other hand, if you “stand with Phil Robertson” because you agree with his absurdly Paleolithic points of view, then please, just let me know so I can defriend you. I’ve got lots of people from all over the political spectrum on my friends list and I generally avoid discussing political issues because so many people these days have their anger on a hair trigger. But there are a few topics I won’t compromise on — if you feel a need to rant about how disgusting gays are, or go on some sort of racist tangent ending with “but some of my best friends are black”, or things in that vein, then fineyou’ve got the right to speak your mind, but I have the right to quietly remove you from my friends list.

I support equal access to marriage for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals. I support equal rights. I live in a state that has had civil unions and then same-sex marriage since July of 2000, and frankly, the knowledge that those people are getting married and moving in together all around me hasn’t damaged my own marriage. We have lots of same-sex couples, married and unmarried, around us, and it doesn’t affect me in the slightest what they do in the bedroom. And if it bothers you, again, fine — but feel free to share your fear and loathing somewhere else. Don’t waste my time.

I’m a churchgoing Christian, in case you were wondering. I’m a member of Faith United Methodist Church in South Burlington, Vermont. I wish I could say that everyone within the United Methodist Church feels the same way I do. Generally, most of my immediate church family does, but unfortunately, there are a lot of congregations in the South who don’t, and consequently, we’ve still got a lot of homophobic policies in the Methodist “Book of Discipline.” Every four years at the quadrennial World Conference, progressive churches try to change that, and every four years, the Southerners manage to block it.

Right now we’ve got an ongoing issue where the Reverend Frank Schaefer, who presided over a wedding between his son and another man in 2007, is facing suspension for refusing to recant and toe the line. I’m solidly on the line of Reverend Schaefer’s actions and it’s time I stood up and said so. His actions may go against our Book of Discipline. May, nothing. They do. And it’s time that the Book of Discipline was changed. This isn’t some minor petty issue like disagreeing over whether to use wine or grape juice during Communion. This strikes at the heart of what it means to be Methodist, and the claim that we espouse “Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.”

In the end, I know that time is on our side — each generation is more accepting of full civil rights for everyone than the one before it. Politicians like Rick Santorum, who are so homophobic that one can easily visualize them lying awake at night clutching the sheets, terrified that THE GAYS are creeping around outside in the bushes, are going to find it less and less effective to cater to the homophobes. But unfortunately, along the way, a lot of good, decent people are going to be hurt. That’s a shame, and it doesn’t help for those of us who do realize that equal rights doesn’t hurt anyone to simply stand by quietly.

So, stand with the bigots and the homophobes all you want. But don’t waste my time asking me to be your “friend”. I have enough friends without associating with those who apparently take pleasure from bigotry.