Here are a few things that I strongly believe in:
People should have freedom of belief system.
People should have freedom of speech.
People should have autonomy.
Now that being said, let me tell you where I am going with this. I respect people with strong belief systems and I think people should be able to live by them freely and openly. I think they should be able to talk, write, publish, and preach about them. However, my respect and tolerance of these individuals does not mean that they have the right to force others (including me) to live by their own belief system.
The United States may have been founded by Christian men based upon their particular moral belief system, but it was also founded on something infinitely more essential, religious freedom.
The pilgrims came over from England because they wanted the freedom to worship as they chose. This is the essential fact. They wanted, and ended up demanding and getting, religious freedom. That is what our country is founded on, that is the implicit agreement. That is why there is something called the separation of church and state. The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” i.e. you have your freedom of religion, but not the right to force it on anyone else.
I know you don’t need a civics lesson, so you are probably wondering where I am going with this. Let me tell you. I want to know why the pledge of allegiance still has the phrase “under God” in it. I want to know why our money still has the phrase “In God We Trust” on it. I want to know why the state legislature has a priest, preacher, reverend, or rabbi come in every morning to start the session off with a prayer.
But these are just the small, everyday things that annoy me, the things I quietly fume about because I literally cannot think about or handle one more attack on me as a person or my way of life. I cannot read one more article about the fight for LGBT equality that mentions some bigoted, homophobic politician citing the bible as his justification for draconian laws and hate. I cannot stand by one more time and have someone piously tell me that their religious beliefs make them better than me, more worthy to be represented and protected as a citizen of this country.
I just want to scream sometimes “Why are we still talking about this?”, “Why are we still having this conversation?”, “Why is this still being discussed”, “Why are you giving these self-righteous assholes air time/ print time/ a podium from which to spew their hate?”
The concept of separation of church and state, which this country was built on, means that politicians can’t go around stating that they disagree with workplace protection, transgender rights, marriage equality, same-sex couples adopting, abortion, women’s rights to contraception, or a dozen other issues because the bible tells them so. And yet they do, and we let them, and the media covers them and gives them legitimacy.
If we were really being true to the spirit and letter of ours laws people wouldn’t be able to do that. Politicians would have to come up with other reasons to oppose laws that would make LGBT individuals equal in this country. But the truth is they can’t do that because they don’t have good reasons. If they can’t rely on religion we begin to see the true bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, and hate in their carefully worded arguments.
So let’s get back to the spirit and letter of our laws. We need to stop giving these people a voice, or if we do give them a voice we have to make sure that they are not hiding behind God’s skirts saying “I don’t hate gay people, God does,” but stating that the real reason they don’t believe in gay marriage is because they are squicked out by gay sex. We need to make it impossible for people like Governor Rick Perry of Texas to state, especially in the press, that the reason they are going to fight the federal judge’s ruling to strike down the gay marriage ban is because the people of Texas believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
Here’s my challenge to anyone out there: take the excuse of religion out of play in the conversation and give me a good reason why LGBT individuals should not be included in laws of this country governing nondiscrimination, healthcare, marriage, the military, or any other topic. Take away your preconceptions and prejudice and from an impersonal perspective lay out a cohesive, logical argument.
People should be able to believe what they want to. We should be able to have civil conversations about the differences in beliefs. Every individual should have a hand in governing this nation. All people should respect another individual’s right to believe what they want and say what they want about those beliefs. However, those beliefs and the things you want to say about them have no place in our government, in our laws, or in other people’s lives. So can we please stop having this inane conversation.