There is a certain irony in seeing those who speak so often of tolerance and understanding using the occasion of a political loss to unleash a torrid of vitriol that no one would ever confuse with tolerance and understanding if the perpetrators were burning crosses or Dixie Chick CDs. And yet the perpetrators in this instance, the losers in the Prop 8 election, do not see it that way. They see the absence of same-sex marriage from our legal regime as a grave injustice that must be remedied by any means necessary. For them, tolerance does not extend to injustice.
But then the initial argument, offered to the general public several decades ago--the call for the wider society to be tolerant of homosexuality--was something of a ruse. Many of us were under the impression that the requirement of tolerance entailed that citizens were in fact permitted to offer negative or positive judgments about the objects of their toleration, and in some instances shape policy consistent with those judgments. After all, one does not tolerate that with which one agrees; one embraces it. One can only tolerate that with which one disagrees. This is why the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles is misnamed. One ought not to be merely tolerant of one's fellow human beings; one ought to embrace them as persons with intrinsic dignity made in the image of God. Of course, what these persons believe and practice for a variety of subjects--including religion and human sexuality--are the proper objects of tolerance.
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