When someone tells me that gay and lesbians are going to hell I concede the point—any attempt to argue with someone about their religious beliefs will be interpreted as an attack—and move on to the obvious followup question: Anybody else going to hell? Any other groups of people? Or is just us? How about the Jews? Are the Jews going to hell? Non-Catholics? Christian Scientists? Are Mormons going to hell? Seventh Day Adventists? How about the Scientologists? Atheists, obviously, but what about agnostics? Wiccans? Buddhists? Muslims? Zoroastrians?
It's the quickest way to make religious conservatives and their heavens and their hells look ridiculous. Because they don't just believe "sinners" are going to hell. They don't just believe that gays and lesbians and adulterers and murderers and other people who have committed discrete sinful acts—they don't believe in gay people, only the sin of gay sex—are going to hell. They also believe that other large groups of people—groups that number in the hundreds of millions—are going to hell too. Here's the dirty little secret that spoils the modern ecumenical anti-gay hate fest: Most "people of faith" believe that people of other faiths—Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, the wrong kinds of Christianity—are going to hell. Evangelicals think Catholics are going to hell, Catholics think everybody who isn't Catholic is going to hell, all conservative Christians think the Jews are going to hell, and on and on.
And yet you don't see conservative Christians out there attacking the civil rights of all the other people they believe are going to hell. They may proselytize, sure, they may try to save the souls lost to the Whore of Babylon (that would be the Catholic Church, according to traditional Lutherans), but they don't attempt to persecute the Jews (anymore), the atheists (anymore), the other-kinds-of-Christians (anymore), the yoga instructors (really). Conservative Christians like the mayor of Vallejo and the cardinal are capable of sharing this world with sinners and apostates and infidels who enjoy full civil equality—atheists can marry! you can't fire someone just for being Jewish! yoga is totally legal in all 50 states!—content in the knowledge that God will punish the sinners and apostates and infidels after death. So, hey, no need to punish them here on earth! Because eternal torment is punishment enough, right? At least conservative Christians regard eternal torment as punishment enough where, say, the Jews and atheists and yoga instructors are concerned—at least they do now—and so they refrain from tormenting or attempting to disenfranchise Jews and atheists and yoga instructors here on earth.
All gay people want is the same deal the Jews and the atheists and the yoga instructors have got: full legal and civil equality, all the same rights and responsibilities as other citizens, equal protections under the law while we're all here on earth together.