Love is Equal Rights
“It takes no compromising to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no survey to remove repressions.” - Harvey Milk
President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month” on June 2, 2000. Barack Obama subsequently declared June Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.
I had the opportunity to attend the Columbus, Ohio, Pride Festival a few years ago, and it was an experience unlike any other. I have long been a supporter of equal rights, but to be surrounded in an atmosphere so full of love and hope as was the case at Pride is only something you’d really have to experience to fully understand and appreciate.
I’ve never understood why so many people feel the need to discriminate against other human beings for simply being who they are. Especially after attending the Pride Festival…I was even more baffled. It was just one huge gathering of people, all supporting the same cause – to have equal rights in the eyes of the government. It shouldn’t even be up for debate. It’s no different than how this country has discriminated against those of a different skin color. It’s ludicrous.
Every time this issue is brought up, the only defense (or the main one, at least) is the Bible. Guess what? We have freedom of religion. If I’m a Buddhist, an atheist, or any number of the myriad of religions out there, your Bible doesn’t mean a thing to me. All people want is the same rights as everyone else. I don’t see what’s so hard about that.
It also seems to me that the majority of people I encounter who are against equal rights have never met a gay person. Well, guess what? You have. Probably lots of them. And whether you realize their sexual orientation or not, you probably even like them. So why would you feel that your friend Bob shouldn’t be entitled to the same exact rights as you? Is he less of a person? And suppose being in love with someone of the same sex were a sin…should people’s rights be denied to them because they sin differently than you? I don’t believe it is a sin, but this is where political leaders always return. Just because you don’t agree with someone, does that mean they shouldn’t have the same rights? I hate guns. Hate them. But I’m not trying to take yours away.
This is the issue that I definitely feel the most passionate about. I have so many gay friends and I love them all dearly. I just cannot understand the thinking behind wanting to deny them any of the rights I have simply because I am attracted to men. I can’t imagine going through life scared to be who I really am…scared to let my parents know, my friends know…terrified of what anyone would think of the real me. These people are brave. But they shouldn’t have to be. We should not exist in a society in which people are shamed because they love who they love.
Yes, I’m familiar with all the counter-arguments here, and I’m not about to entertain them all. Frankly, it becomes exhausting, as I find answering these rebuttals about as effective as explaining to my four-year-old why she can’t eat marshmallows for every meal. It’s often like reasoning with individuals whose sense of logic has either not developed or it’s been permanently removed. And if I sound angry, it’s because I am.
This issue makes me angry…and sad. Because so many of the people I love are part of the larger group as a whole who are subjected to discrimination on a daily basis.
I want to try to help end that.
More and more states are granting same-sex couples the right to marry, and this excites me. Each new state is a victory. Of course, I’ll be happier when every state grants that right…but I do think we’re making progress.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, there are 1,138 benefits, rights, and protections provided on the basis of marital status in federal law. Same-sex couples are not considered spouses for purposes of federal law. You can look at the HRC webpage for a more detailed list of the rights gay couples are denied – there are too many to list here.
There are 29 states in which a person can be fired from a job – for being gay.
This puts knots in my stomach.
The more people who stand up for their rights and stand up for this cause, the more likely other people’s eyes might be opened. I want my kids to live in a world that is accepting and appreciative of all kinds of people, not only people who happen to be just like them. I want to live in a world in which hate crimes don’t exist. Where there are no more kids afraid to “come out” because of how society will react. We are society. And we can collectively decide to teach our kids to not just be tolerant, which is a start, but to accept. To love. If you wouldn’t want your children discriminated against, and I hope you wouldn’t, then this should follow for anyone’s kids. For anyone, period. We learn The Golden Rule in kindergarten, and then slowly distance ourselves from it as the years pass. Let’s find our way back to it.
Friends, I love you.