On Nov. 15, I attended the Asheville chapter of a national protest against the recently passed Proposition 8 making same-sex marriage illegal in California.
As I approached the Pritchard Park gathering, my stomach churned as I anticipated the opposition of Christian fundamentalists and the hateful signs and words I was sure to encounter. It bothers me to the core when I see followers of a God who represents love and grace, display such bigoted hatred and judgmentalism toward others. I take no issue with their right to believe that homosexuality is a sin, but I have a big problem with anyone who tries to impose their religious judgment on those who don’t share their beliefs.
Despite the setbacks generated by the passing of Proposition 8, the downtown park was filled to capacity with high spirits and hopeful faces. I immediately noticed a large sign held by members of local churches that read “People of Faith for Just Relationships.”
The crowd cheered as the mic was opened up for minds to be spoken and encouragement to be shared. “It’s about the right to love!” proclaimed the first speaker, followed by a roar of applause and excitement. A theme of love was woven throughout the signs and speakers at the protest.
The next speaker was a minister from First Congregational Church. He shared that he has made a vow not to marry another couple until marriage is legal for all, encouraging his audience to “let our love be equal for everyone!”
Another speaker from First Congregational stated that “Love is holy, whether shared between a man and man, a woman and a woman or a man and a woman.” One after another, speakers from the community, many from local Christian congregations, took a stand and encouraged people to continue the fight for equal marriage rights.
As I listened to pastors, ministers, clergymen and clergywomen share messages of love amongst people they have been stereotyped as hating, it caused me to reevaluate my view of Christianity. Rather than the hate-filled opposition I had anticipated, the Christians at this protest were standing as one with the homosexual community and advocating for their rights.
It’s a commonly held perception that the Christian church hates homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and until last weekend, I largely subscribed to this stereotype myself. While it is true that many Christians are opposed to gay marriage and have approached this issue with hatred and anger, we should be careful not to overlook those Christians who have taken a different approach—those who have chosen to show love and compassion and to take a stand for equality and justice.
— Julienne Coyle