HE SAYS:

I was reluctant to join the fray regarding the uproar that quickly developed when the CEO of Chick-fil-A stated his opinion that same sex marriages were contrary to his religious beliefs.  An argument can be made that a business owner should not interject his personal views on such a controversial topic into his business; but, then if that were a hard and fast rule, I would be out of the blogging game.  Obviously, I believe that a business owner has the same freedom of speech rights as anyone else and should be free to express himself without putting his business in jeopardy.

As a staunch supporter of free speech, I can no longer refrain from commenting on the over the top reaction to his stand on this social issue.   I disagree with his opinion and have publically supported same sex marriages in my post “Marriage Is More Than An Institution”; however, as a free speech advocate, I fully support his right to express his opinion even when I disagree.   That is the point of having the right to our freedom of speech.   If we were only free to say what is acceptable to others then free speech would cease to exist.

One of the problems, as I see it, is that people confuse words with actions.   The CEO was not trying to prevent same sex marriages or suggesting that he would not welcome same sex couples to his restaurant, he was simply expressing his personal opinion on the subject.   This is the same overreaction that perpetuates much of the political correctness abuse in this country.   When you fear the words of others because you find them to be offensive or threatening to your point of view, the reaction is to stifle the message by destroying the messenger.   Here, those that feel threatened by the views of this CEO feel the need to punish him and damage his business with protests, demonstrations and a general campaign of their own brand of intolerance in order to suppress his right to speak freely and as a warning to those that might also want to similarly express themselves.

I believe we need to encourage an open discourse where everyone can freely express diverse opinions without fear of reprisals or intimidation and also have a society that embraces its diversity.   Those who were protesting need to question if taking away someone else’s right to free speech is really the best way to protect their right to be treated equally?   For me, the answer is no since it comes down to a simple truth that everyone’s freedom is diminished if anyone’s rights are taken away.

On Monday, Joe offers some information about Social Security benefits in “Social Security And You, Part 1”.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?

HE SAYS:

Marriage is an institution just as governments and religions are institutions; however, in each case their real purpose transcends the rules, dogma, and traditions of their respective institutions.  At their heart, religion is about faith and hope, government is about justice and equality, and marriage is about love and commitment.

Without love or commitment, marriage would be an empty and shallow institution whereas a marriage that is based on love and commitment cannot be defined or confined by the constraints of a mere institution.  Why are these distinctions important?   Because, it has become fashionable to argue against same sex marriages based on the fact that they do not conform to our notion of what the institution of marriage is, by tradition, intended to mean.

I suggest that if two consenting adults truly love and respect each other and want to commit their lives to each other that is a better definition of what a marriage should mean than any guidance the traditions of an institution can offer us on the subject.   This, of course, is a hotly debated issue in our society with many political and religious overtones that also calls into question our ideas about families, adoption, and the rearing of children.

I agree that same sex marriages will change the landscape of the traditional family unit and will bring a new era of parent-child relationships and dynamics.   None of that needs to be looked upon as having a negative impact on our familiar family ideals.  To me, any family unit that has a high level of concern for one another and that strives to nurture, support, and love one another is an asset to our society and will build new traditions that can become part of a broader and more inclusive institution of marriage.

Love and respect are universally accepted values and any marriage that is built on such clearly commendable ideals should also be legal regardless of the gender of the participants.  In the final analysis, a marriage should not be judged by how well it conforms to the institution of marriage but by how strong the love and commitment is of the people involved.

On Wednesday, Joe offers some information about the dangers of harassment in the workplace in “Harassment Can Kill A Business”.

WHAT DO YOU SAY?