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Politics

WHO CARES ABOUT (GAY) PEOPLE?

Most people don’t really care much one way or the next about gay people. They know they exist, and that’s about it. Which is pretty understandable since people have other, more pressing things on their minds, like their own lives and families and jobs and bills and whatnot. There’s only so much brain space available for gay people and their troubles or successes or way of life. It’s not exactly a national fascination on the order of say, football. So what makes gay people a big deal these days?  That would be the second-class status of homosexuals in the eyes of the laws of much of America, a nation that makes no provisions for second-class status for any of our citizens. Either you’re an American or not, and if you are American you are guaranteed equal rights and equal protection under the law, whether or not much of the population spends much time contemplating your existence. 

A guarantee is a guarantee. Nowhere is it written that anybody has to like or approve of their fellow citizens, only that they respect the rights with which our nation claims we are all endowed from birth. So even that rotten curmudgeon that lives down the street and yells at everybody all the time gets equal protection and equal rights, and nobody likes him. America figures that if you deny him his rights then anybody could be next. History is chock full of such lessons. It always starts with the other guy, and before you know it you’re the other guy wondering what happened to your civil liberties or even your freedom. It’s a fairly simple concept and one rooted as much in self-preservation as moral concepts. When all are not protected, then none are.

So here we are having gay people wanting to get married, nothing new under the sun there, but this time they want to get married to one another! That concept seems to be a huge challenge to a lot of people who previously have given homosexuals little thought. To the shame of America and the ideas and ideals upon which it was founded, the knee-jerk response was to pass laws limiting the civil rights of 5% of their fellow citizens. Again, if they are successful, who’s next? If gay people cannot pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then who else cannot? Any volunteers?

The attempts to define marriage as a legal union between only a man and a woman have no precedent in American law. While anyone is free to follow what they consider the “higher law” of their religion, the rest of us are just as free to completely ignore your religion and its laws, and even to consider them backward and silly if we so choose. The American legal system is mandated to ignore all religious law, since to incorporate any of them into statutes would violate the separation of church and state, thus placing one religion in official dominance and the rest of them in the legal limbo of second-class status, like the current state of the gay community. Any volunteers for that one?

While many declare ours to be a Christian nation, they are dead wrong. Instead it is a nation that allows Christianity to flourish, along with any other religion anyone else chooses to follow. And there are too many different Christian denominations to count, so what do these people want, that their version is made the officially correct one? Turning any religion into law sort of goes against the whole concept of faith by turning dogma into government policy and acknowledged “fact.” Anyone want to take the chance that their particular brand of faith will be the one to gain government sanction? Of course that would mean all the others will lose and will be official heresy, punishable by who knows what? There are many sad models of countries operating under religious law. Any Americans care to join them?

In America, the declarations that all men are created equal and that every citizen enjoys equal protection under the law trumps religious laws every time. Homosexuals ask nothing extra of America, no special rights or privileges not afforded the rest of us. They seek only what we all have, to claim the birthright we have all always taken for granted. Homosexuality is not contagious, nor is it a chosen “lifestyle,” any more than any of us chose to be left-handed or tall or freckled. Homosexual marriage threatens no one else’s marriage, lifestyle or well-being in any concrete way. If it upsets some people emotionally or goes against their religious faith, well, so what? They’ll either get over it or not and again, so what? Laws and rights are not emotional issues, but practical, real protections put in place for our common benefit. There are those among us still upset about the Civi Rights Act of 1965 that gave black citizens equal rights. Anybody worrying about their feelings?

Homosexuals are one in twenty of us, and that is why they are important and why their rights must be every bit as scrupulously respected  and protected as any American. It had been said that America will not be America until it is America for all its citizens. Let the oppressors stand down now and get out of the way. To do less is to invite oppression for all, and there is never any shortage of potential tyrants out there willing to oblige. Set gay people free and we will all be a step closer to becoming the America of our highest ideals. To do less would be a disgrace to ourselves and our nation.

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