In one case, a man who lived with his partner for 25 years had to fight his partner's parents for something as simple as visitation rights:
In 2005 [Patrick] Atkins collapsed while on a business trip to Atlanta. He had a ruptured aneurysm and later suffered a stroke while hospitalized. When [Brett] Conrad arrived in Atlanta Atkins' family directed the hospital to refuse him access to the ailing 47-year old, the Indianapolis Star reports. He was allowed by sympathetic hospital staff to sneak in after hours and after Atkins parents had left.
When Atkins was moved to a nursing home Conrad again was forced to sneak in to see the man with whom he had spend more than half his life. Later that year Conrad filed for guardianship of Atkins. But the now severely disabled man's parents quickly moved their son to their home and have refused to allow Conrad access to him.
For the past two years Conrad has been battling the Atkins family in court. Legal documents obtained by the Star show that Atkins' mother, Jeanne Atkins, believes homosexuality is a sin and refuses to acknowledge the men's relationship.
In June the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that Conrad must have visitation rights. "Brett and Patrick have spent 25 years together as life partners - longer than Patrick lived at home with his parents - and their future life together has been destroyed by Patrick's tragic medical condition and by the Atkinses' unwillingness to accept their son's lifestyle," the ruling said.
The parents continue to make all decisions about Atkins' medical care and they are appealing this court ruling. Problems like this simply wouldn't occur — or they would be far less common — if gays were allowed to marry. Proposals for a "separate but equal" status of "civil unions" aren't enough; to combat the negative effects of religious bigotry it's necessary for gay couples to have the exact same legal and social status as heterosexual couples. No one should be permitted to split up and harm a gay couple like the parents above simply because they believe ancient, bigoted superstitions.
In another case, a church is denying a memorial service to a Navy veteran because the man was gay and his partner wanted to attend:
Officials at the nondenominational High Point Church knew that Cecil Howard Sinclair was gay when they offered to host his service but no one hinted of problems while planning it, said his sister, Kathleen Wright.
"But when the obituary came out in the paper and listed his life partner as one of the survivors, I truly believe the big-pocket parishioners called the church and said, 'Why are you having a funeral for a gay person?'" Wright said Friday. "It's a slap in the face. It's like, `Oh, we're sorry he died, but he's gay so we can't help you.'" ...
Wright said a minister knew that Sinclair was gay because when he went to the hospital the night her brother died, she introduced him to Sinclair's partner. ...The service at Moore Funeral Home turned out to be a celebration of Sinclair's life, although the church's cancellation lingered in some minds, Seelig said. "That's where they are misguided," Seelig said. "They preach love, but they don't act it out."
Source: Houston Chronicle
I'm sure that this church does act out the love they preach in a wide variety of circumstances. What needs to be recognized here, however, is that the love they preach is less important than their hostility towards homosexuality. Gays who do not repent are so awful that they cannot be accorded the same decency, respect, and love as other human beings. In some places, like the country of Georgia, they aren't even always accorded the right to live:
“Violence is an everyday thing if a person is an outright homosexual,” one told me. “The response from family members when someone comes out as gay is usually negative, including being kicked out of the house, being locked up in a room or being taken to psychiatrists. It’s only a community of maybe 150 to 200 people who are ‘out,’ but it’s not stable. There is no regular place for homosexuals. If a place becomes known to be gay-friendly, homophobic people come in and try to stop it.”
Afterward, I went out onto the street to ask people what they thought about this new organization for Georgian homosexuals. Surprisingly, most of the women I spoke to thought it was wonderful, although I quickly realized that they had no idea what I was talking about. “It’s good there is an organization that will enable them to get help,” said one middle-aged shopper. “Maybe they can be cured of this sickness.”
The men were somewhat less forgiving. “It goes against God’s law,” went one response. “I think it would be better if they were dead.”
Source: The St. Petersburg Times
Anti-gay Christians in America aren't likely to say such things, but how often is it because they sincerely don't believe it and how often is it because such statements just can't be made publicly without severe censure? Hopefully the numbers aren't large, but it's hard not to be worried that there are far too many people like that out there in America. It hasn't been that long, after all, since open, public homosexuality has been very acceptable almost anywhere in America, much less television and the movies.
Once again, this is why full legal equality is necessary — including in marriage. Churches and religious institutions can have a tremendous amount of power over people's lives and they have a right to preach, encourage, and endorse hateful discrimination. Only the government has sufficient power to counter this and guarantee people some measure of equality and decency in their lives. In particular, it requires a staunchly secular government to be able to create secular, neutral spaces where religion-based bigotry has no official status and little power.
The government cannot and should not hover over their every move, of course, but the government can establish certain minimum standards by not adopting the bigotry of so many religious believers. Treating gays as fully equal sends the message that gays are not inferior and that homosexuality is not a legitimate basis for hate, bigotry, or discrimination. People would be free to ignore this message in their private and religious lives, obviously, but the legal and social consequences to others would be sharply limited. That is precisely what government should be doing.
Efforts by Christian Nationalists to undermine secularism in America are, in part, an effort to prevent this sort of thing from happening. It's easier for a fully secular government to refuse to adopt the bigoted doctrines of a religious sect as a basis for public policy. Secular government can readily pursue policies based on secular, rational, and empirical evidence about what is good for the people. The more religious a government is, however, the harder it is to ensure people's freedom from religious doctrines — bigoted or otherwise.