In his Forbes column, Tim Worstall explains his puzzlement over the ongoing Chick-Fil-A uproar in the US and why tolerance is not the same as approval:
As to the basic point about gay marriage I can only offer my personal opinion: all for it. On the grounds that everyone’s going to understand the miserableness of us middle aged heteros a great deal better after 20 odd years of societally enforced monogamy. Slightly more seriously gay marriage or not gay marriage has little to do with a business column.
What does have to do with a business column is that this whole idea of a market means that we don’t have to care about the personal beliefs of either those who supply us or whom we supply. It’s the very impersonality of market exchange that means that it just doesn’t matter a darn what anyone’s sexual (or indeed any other) preference is. We get to care only about whether it’s a good chicken sandwich or whether the customer has enough money for one.
[. . .]
The other point that occurs to me is that we seem to be separating tolerance from approval in a way that some in the US are not.
Just as background, in the country I live in, Portugal, there is as far as a legal marriage ceremony goes, only civil marriage. Any two consenting adults, in whatever mixture of genders and sexes makes sense to those two individuals, can be married by the State. Religion doesn’t even get a look in.
If you do want a religious marriage, according to the rites of a church, then off you go after your civil marriage and have one. That marriage will be limited by whatever that church decides the limitations upon marriage are. It has no legal effect at all.
At which point everyone tolerates gay marriage but no one demands approval of it. For the two are different. Tolerance being the necessary requirement for a free and liberal society: that you get to do what you want to do as long as everyone else is also given the same freedom to follow their path from cradle to grave. Approval is something else again. I, to take a very trivial example, certainly tolerate the existence of Simon Cowell and his shows but that doesn’t mean that anyone can demand that I approve of them.