Students respond to Erickson

I was inspired to write this article in the wake of the recent controversy over the choice of Erick Erickson as the Founder’s Day speaker.
I attended the “Civility in Politics” question and answer session and have recently read some opinions entries that decry the homosexual community for labeling conservative views on same-sex marriage as hate speech.
With a lot of talk about respecting others’ opinions, I felt that I would offer my viewpoint, particularly on the issue of same-sex marriage and the influence that religion has had on “The Defense of Marriage.”
Traditionally, if I were to make an argument about a cause or a belief and wanted to be respected, it would be expected that I have some sort of justification for that belief.
If I believe that women are or are not treated on equal footing with men, I ought to have some labor statistics or at the very least a logical argument supporting my viewpoint.
If I thought a certain enzyme performed a certain function in a certain animal species, I would have to present a clearly thought out argument in support of this hypothesis with evidence to back it up.
My question is: why is religion immune to this level of scrutiny?
It is undeniable that religion plays a major role in shaping conservative opinions regarding marriage, and Christian views are often used to defend claims that homosexuals should not be allowed to marry.
What puzzles me is the idea that these opinions ought to be respected.
I believe that some opinions do not deserve respect, with opinions influenced by religion being chief among them.
Religious justification for discrimination of homosexuals is about as satisfactory as a parent telling his or her child to follow orders “because I said so.”
If a group consisting of some of my closest friends and myself decided to lobby to withhold access to equal rights from a group of people out of fear, hate, or misunderstanding and said that our beliefs were influenced by a collection of works of dubious authorship that declare their own authority and were inspired by our collective imaginary friend, people would not give our opinion any credence.
If that imaginary friend is supplanted with “God” and this scenario applied instead to a much larger group of people who maintain their beliefs due to a combination of indoctrination and fear of ostracism – let’s add in a dash of about 1000 years of intellectual and monetary privilege – then all of the sudden people listen to that opinion, even if no evidence is provided to support it.
For me, that is not enough.
If someone can provide a reason to prohibit same-sex marriage based on, say, a study showing that same-sex couples marrying had an actual negative effect on society, then I would, and we all should, respect that opinion and listen to the argument supporting it.
Until then, however, it would appear that efforts to deny homosexuals the right to marry are bigotry hiding behind the veil of religion – a veil that is often treated as immune to the same logic that dictates the rest of our lives and has been repeatedly used in the past to justify much more severe crimes.
In other words, it is an opinion not worthy of respect.