Lets resolve to be more tolerant

Published Dec 24, 2013 at 9:35 am (Updated Dec 24, 2013 at 9:35 am)

T he issue of gays and gay marriage is again at the forefront of public opinion, thanks to a few recent news-making events.

Last week, the United Methodist church officials defrocked Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon, Pa., after he refused to voluntarily surrender his credentials as punishment for officiating his own son’s 2007 same-sex wedding in the state of Massachusetts, where same-sex unions are legal.

While the Methodist church does accept gay and lesbian members, it does not allow its clergy to perform such unions, and views homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

This is not the last that we will hear of Schaefer, either. He was quoted as saying “I cannot voluntarily surrender my credentials because I am a voice now for many – for tens of thousands – of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) members in our church.”

We applaud Schaefer’s action. The world could use more forward-thinking religious officials like him. Things certainly started looking up for members of the LGBT community earlier this year when Pope Francis said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

In another monumental story last week, New Mexico became the latest and 17th state to declare it unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

And, perhaps, for some reason, the biggest story of all when it comes to gay issues – “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson coming under fire for anti-gay comments that he made to GQ magazine in a story published in its January issue. The comments rubbed the network the wrong way, and now Phil’s – and the show’s – future on the network are up in the air. The family released a statement saying that “...Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Based on the comments made to GQ, we do have to wonder that if Robertson’s neighbor happened to be gay, would Robertson love the person as he loves himself?

Those who are gay cannot “turn themselves straight” anymore than a straight person can convert to a gay lifestyle. It is not a choice.

It is our hope that, as we celebrate this holiday season and move into the year 2014, that religious institutions, non-religious institutions, public figures, politicians and the rest of society alike will become more tolerant and accepting, and view members of the LGBT community for what they are – equals with the rest of humanity.

After all, we all bleed red, and we are all citizens of the world.

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