In reaction to Jason Collins' bombshell announcement that he is gay, ESPN's Chris Broussard stated on live television that living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin and "an open rebellion to god." He also felt the same about anyone having premarital sex or who has engaged in adultery. ESPN then issued a statement regretting that Broussard's comments became a "distraction" and welcoming Jason Collins' statement.
Tim Brando at CBS Sports does not think Collins is a hero and is concerned that "[b]eing a Christian White male over 50 that's raised a family means nothing in today's culture."
What is going on here other than a fear by some that the definition of normal is changing?
Well, if you listen to Broussard or read his thoughts on John Amaechi, a former NBA player who came out only after retiring, he is asking for respect for his religious beliefs, even if those beliefs are bigoted. To his credit, Broussard does not believe that being gay should disqualify you from playing professional basketball. Nor does it stop him from playing basketball with his openly gay colleague LZ Granderson. And, in general his call for disagreeing without being disagreeable is something to commend.
However, religious tolerance as I see it only means respecting others' right to pray to whomever they choose. It does not mean respecting bigotry. I know Bill Maher will agree with me when I say that basing one's moral code entirely on words written by men -- not God -- thousands of years ago is irrational. Much of this country has come to the realization that, despite past beliefs, discrimination against gays is immoral.
But, even if we are to accept an individual's right to believe that homosexuality -- or premarital sex or adultery -- is a sin, the real problem lies in such views impacting our secular laws, as they in fact do around the country.
So, as Frank Bruni of the New York Times notes, the federal government has not outlawed discrimination against people based on sexual orientation, immigration laws do not give same-sex couples the same consideration that they do to heterosexual ones, and the Defense of Marriage Act "relegate[s]" same-sex committed relationships to a lesser status.
As long as elected officials cite to their religious beliefs to defend discrimination against gays and lesbians, it is impossible to tolerate such beliefs as if they are simply personal ones. Perhaps, if there comes a day when discrimination has been entirely erased from our laws, I can consider respecting Broussard's right to his own belief system.