The Civil Unions Debate Heats Up
Here are two of the many e-mails I received after last week’s MidWeek issue hit the households:
“You say that sexual orientation is something we are born with, just like eye color. I suppose the desire to kill, steal, lie, commit adultery, pedophilia and other crimes are traits people are born with also?? I don’t think so. These are choices people make.”- MidWeek reader
“Thanks for printing the story about gay acceptance. Who the heck would choose to be gay? I was born this way. I couldn’t change my blue eyes and I can’t change my sexual orientation. It’s just me.”– MidWeek reader
The chasm that exists between these two sides is enormous.
So let me make this clear: I am not an expert on the Bible. Several readers have kindly pointed this out to me.
I don’t pretend to be anything other than what you see – a columnist, a former journalist, a grandchild of immigrants and a minority in this big, freewheeling and vibrant country we all love so much. I have felt the sting of discrimination. Members of every minority have endured it at one time or another.
In our history, immigrants have gone through a lot to “fit in.” Some even changed their names and identities in order to assimilate in this melting pot we proudly call the greatest nation on earth. Happily, young people nowadays understand that “belonging” does not mean being just like everybody else. We are proud of our diverse backgrounds, and we celebrate both our differences and the national pride that brings us together.
Gays and lesbians, though, often feel forced to hide their sexuality for fear of social or government-sanctioned repercussions (see “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”).
Think about some of the major issues we have faced as a nation: slavery, black civil rights, equal treatment for the disabled – there were many reasons put forth passionately for keeping the status quo: tradition, religion, economics, states’ rights, etc.
Today we hear some of the same – or similar – arguments being used to deny gays and lesbians full rights under the law.
* Tradition: Opponents of civil unions say it’s the next step toward marriage equality, and they argue that marriage is an institution; it’s always been between a man and a woman; the purpose of marriage is to have and raise children …
My answer to that: Traditions evolve over time. Sometimes traditions change only if we force the matter – look at all-white country clubs.
Also, just what is the traditional family today? We don’t fit into neat little boxes. There are many ways that loving, well-adjusted adults can raise smart, well-adjusted kids. We are not the Cleavers anymore.
* Religion: “You obviously don’t believe in the God of the bible or you have not read or understood what you have read in the bible.” –MidWeek reader
All I can say is that religion was used by both sides in the slavery debate, and then again when blacks demanded an end to “segregation” – and it is used today when it comes to the civil rights of homosexuals (why are we afraid of that word?). Religion should not be a deciding factor in the lawmaking process of our democracy.
* Economics: Imagine someone making this argument about racial minorities or the rights of the disabled: Sorry, we can’t treat you equally under the law because it would cost us too much money.
Well, all righty, then. Go ahead and walk all over us.
One by one, stereotypes have been broken and the barriers to equal treatment and protection have fallen away. Mind you, there are plenty of “closet” bigots, but at least we no longer accept prejudice and intolerance as the norm in our country.
Except when it comes to gays.
Please, tell me again: How is that right? How is that fair? And how does that live up to our American ideals?