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Audio: Tony Perkins fosters lie that pastors will be forced to marry same-sex couples

by Jeremy Hooper

No activist, group, or allied organization working in the LGBT rights movement is advocating to change laws so that religious figures will have to perform a wedding ceremony. We have made this perfectly clear, over and over again. Just as faith leaders have always had the freedom to deny a religious ceremony to any kind of opposite-sex couple for any reason (e.g. divorce, interfaith union, fails premarital counseling, etc.), they will retain that right as it applies to same-sex couples. You are hard pressed to find even a lone civil marriage equality advocate who's seeking otherwise, much less a leader or group engaged in the organized movement for marriage equality.

But it doesn't matter how often or firmly we state it, since the movement that has always preferred to tell us who and what we are rather than listening to what we're actually saying will just keep pretending we are liars. Here's Family Research Council president Tony Perkins scaring his listeners with this idea of forced pastors:

[SOURCE: Washington Watch, 3/6/14]

What makes this one so intensely frustrating is that those of us who support this right of pastors are actively supporting religious freedom here. We are acting in good faith here.We are saying that pastors have the right to be against marriage equality, homosexuality, or anything else. We are acknowledging that America supports this right. Even when it goes against us, those of us on this side of these issues have a history of supporting the full and unfettered right of religious people and groups to speak out and act out against us, so long as it doesn't impinge on our civil freedoms or fair accommodation in the public sphere (like with discriminatory business practices).

The problem is that the anti-LGBT movement has so fully convinced itself (and is so determined to convoke its supporters) that we equality supporters are deceivers who never utter an honest word and who never really want a fair and free world. They are so hung up on their self-victimization that they are unwilling to accept any place of agreement. This is a point where we should all be able to come together in commonality; they should applaud us—or at least not denigrate us—for acknowledging and accepting this religious exemption. Doing so, however, might lessen the illusion that we are nasty bullies out to destroy American, religion, and all that is good in the world. So they won't. Ever.

It's one of my biggest professional frustrations. I have spent nine years trying to rise above muck, always staying away from personal attacks; always being forthright in granting my opposition every last freedom that they deserve (which is every freedom); and pushing toward a world where my civil rights will be protected, but so will their right to condemn and their choice to avoid me, my family, and our ceremonies. It simply doesn't matter. To the American "pro-family" movement, the idea that I am wrong, disingenuous, and fit for scorn is a preconceived one, regardless of what I say or how I choose to engage.

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