McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Two centuries ago, English poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge said, “I have seen gross intolerance shown in support of tolerance.” Many Oregonians have not only observed Coleridge’s statement in action, they have also experienced it.
Homosexual activists have chanted a mantra of tolerance for decades. However, they have failed to practice what they preach.
In March of this year, four of five Multnomah County commissioners challenged Oregon law by issuing an order to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The move was the result of secret meetings held between the elected officials and Basic Rights Oregon, a homosexual activist group.
Not only did the rogue commissioners keep their discussions with BRO secret from the public, they left one of their own completely out of the loop. Commissioner Lonnie Roberts learned of his colleagues’ decision while watching the local television news.
Surely a tolerant group of fair-minded liberals would not employ clandestine meetings in an effort to force a new definition of marriage on the public, would they? Doesn’t tolerance imply a respect for all views on a given subject?
The commissioners’ decision resulted in a handful of protesters denouncing the action. However, a few angry citizens left messages on county answering machines threatening the life of at least one commissioner.
In response to the intimidation, I wrote a letter that was published in the Oregonian. On behalf of Oregon Southern Baptists, I denounced the threats of violence. I asserted that a vote by the will of the people, prefaced by debate, was the only way to deal with the commissioners actions.
My call for tolerance was met with intolerance. For even suggesting a civil course of action I was branded a hatemonger and no better than those who threatened violence. Healthy debate and the democratic process were now labeled “hateful.” What on earth was I thinking?
The same day that same-sex “marriage” debuted in Portland, the Defense of Marriage Coalition was formed. The goal of the pastor-led group was to allow Oregonians to speak to the issue of marriage via the ballot box.
The Coalition provided leadership for a marriage amendment petition drive that resulted in 244,000 signatures being collected in approximately five weeks — more than double the number of signatures required.
Dubbed “Measure 36,” the amendment — which will appear on Tuesday’s ballot — seeks to define marriage in Oregon as being only between one man and one woman.
Those who favor the measure have been showing support by displaying bumper stickers and yard signs that read: “Yes on 36 -– One Man One Woman.”
The stickers and signs have been met with intolerance.
My church displayed several signs on a lawn facing a busy intersection. Regularly, for the past 6 weeks, they have been vandalized. To date, the signs have been run over by a car, mangled, strewn in the street and stolen. After each attack, we have patiently replaced them.
There have been reports of Measure 36 signs being spray painted with rainbow symbols –- a popular symbol of homosexual activists. A Defense of Marriage Coalition spokesman recently told me that in Multnomah County alone, an estimated 7000 signs have been stolen.
There have also been reports of cars sporting Measure 36 bumper stickers in the Portland area being vandalized with spray paint. While I have not experienced anything quite so severe, I did have a bumper sticker stolen off my car one afternoon.
While driving through downtown Portland recently, my son and I experienced the intolerance of the opponents of Measure 36 up close and personal.
Our “Yes on 36” bumper sticker was met with a volley of obscene gestures. One lady even felt compelled to hang out of the window of her moving car and scream while she signaled that we were “number one.”
I did not catch all of her message. She uttered something about “homophobia” and that I “should be ashamed.” She also questioned my heritage in a very graphic manner. My response was to smile, wave and say “God loves you.”
While some find the intolerance of the “tolerant” homosexual activists disconcerting, I see it as a positive sign. Someone once observed, “When you resort to attacking the messenger and not the message, you have lost the debate.”
If the recent actions of homosexual activists toward the supporters of Measure 36 are any indication, traditional marriage will be affirmed in Oregon on Election Day. And I expect the “tolerant” among us to receive the news with an attitude of intolerance.
Kelly Boggs’ column appears each Friday in Baptist Press. He is pastor of the Portland-area Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore.