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Sometimes you have a conversation with a friend that just leaves you wondering why you were friends with the person in the first place. Today was one of those days.

A few days ago I made the decision to change my profile picture on facebook to the red and white equals sign that I'm sure many of you have seen. I do this as an ally.

I am a white male in my early 30s. I am married with two wonderful children. And I believe that no matter what your sexual orientation may be, you are entitled to the same rights I am.

Well, this morning I sat down at work and loaded up facebook (which believe it or not, is a part of my job), and immediately I received a message from a former employee of mine from about ten years ago who asked me a simple question:

"I have seen some of my facebook friends have the same profile picture as you. What does that pic mean?"

My former employee, who I have always characterized as being a good-hearted but slightly slow individual, has the stars and bars of the rebel flag as his profile picture.

I explained to him that a lot of people were changing their picture in support of equal rights, and particularly, gay marriage. I explained that it was personal to me as I have a lesbian cousin and several gay and lesbian friends, and this was just a small gesture I could make for them.

He then asked me "If your cousin wasn't gay would you support it?"

I responded by telling him absolutely, because I believe in the separation of church and state. And I believe that it is a two-sided separation - it exists to protect the church from the state, but it also exists to protect the state from the church. And as a Christian myself, I have to understand that since the separation exists, you have to look at marriage as a strictly contractual issue. And knowing which area of the political spectrum he occupies, I framed the argument as a small government issue, noting that the government should not be interfering in a contractual issue between two consenting adults.

Then, I turned my reasoning and asked him which did more harm to the institution of marriage  - celebrities who have 55-hour marriages, or people who marry and divorce seven or eight times - or people like my cousin, who has been in a committed relationship with her partner for nearly 20 years?

I then pointed out that if I were to be sick, my wife would be able to visit me in the hospital. She would be able to speak for me if I could not speak for myself. But what about my cousin - who has been fighting cancer (and on a happy note, was told two weeks ago that the cancer was in complete remission). Her partner would not be afforded the same rights that my wife is allowed.

His response was simple - "I hear you, but the Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman period."

I reminded him about the separation of church and state, and noted that while the church has every right to discriminate, biblical arguments don't apply to the laws of the land.

And I went further, reminding him about other biblical prohibitions. Like eating pork, having tattoos, wearing polyester, using condoms, divorcing, wearing gold, and eating shellfish.

To which he responded "You think gays have rights?"

And I responded "Of course they do. Whether you're white, black, gay, straight... it doesn't matter. Under our constitution they absolutely do."

His retort - "Oh please. That's what your socialist I mean president thinks."

And it just devolved from there. He went through the usual paranoid and disproven arguments. Obama wasn't born in America, he's a muslim, yada, yada, yada.

But this is what we're up against in this country. This is our loyal opposition. The common clay of the new west.

You know, morons.

The Republican Party's problem isn't that they're the stupid party. The problem is that they have to pander to stupid people to get their abhorrent agenda pushed through. And their base is completely immune to logic.

Frankly, I'm feeling more depressed about the state of our country after this conversation than I have been in a long time. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised by the number of red equals signs being used as profile pictures on facebook over the past few days. But the sheer idiocy of the arguments on the other side has been difficult to deal with.

UPDATE - Wow, rec list. Not expecting this. Apologizing for the use of "preference" rather than orientation. This diary was quickly written and no offense was intended. I apologize sincerely for the lack of thought.

With that said, I'm at another part of my work that won't allow me to participate in the comment thread for now. I'll be back later this evening if we're still on the reclist. Thanks for reading.

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