Writer’s Note: this post is my opinion. You may or may not agree with me, and that’s fine. I wanted to share some thoughts and personal views, and here they are. I’m not sorry if I offend you, and I’m happy if I maybe shined a little light for those who’s struggles deserve to be recognized. Every little bit counts in bringing true equality to America.
So let’s begin.
In case you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, the political firestorm surrounding the battle for LGBT rights has been one of the more divisive topics in our country’s history. Echoes of the struggles that minorities and women had to face to earn their rights are reverberating through this movement, but there is a different opponent fighting back: the religious community. Now, as a person without a dog in this fight, I do have an outsider’s viewpoint. I am neither religious nor am I a part of the LGBT community. I have friends and family members that are a part of both, so I do feel a personal connection to this difficult and troubling contest of wills. Let it be known that I am not attacking anyone. I firmly believe that religion has no place in our government, and they have no right in making decisions on the rights of others in this country. I also believe that people should have the freedom to follow whatever religion they want, and be able to practice the tenets of those beliefs as long as they are not at the expense of others or to do harm to others. So now that I have that out of the way, let me get to the details of the way I feel.
This country is founded on the idea of freedom, and while the people who wrote those words were quite flawed themselves, their words and ideals were meant to grant those that followed a chance to pursue their freedoms as Americans. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”. Within that amendment, you find that the government should not put one religion above another, and also they are not to infringe on an American citizen’s right to follow their personal beliefs. This also includes the right for any American to choose to not follow any religion, or to believe whatever parts of religions they choose to. Thomas Jefferson spoke about the fact that the governments should be separated from religion, but unfortunately through the years since the country was founded, Christian religions have gained a foothold in American politics. This slant towards a sect of religions began to influence politics and allowed for favorable laws to be passed. Despite the First Amendment still being in effect, certain religious communities have faced persecution while others have been raised above the others. We all know that this isn’t fair. This is one of the many things in this country that is depressingly unequal, and a community that is built on such uneven ground as religion cannot be toppled as easily as others. The Christian religions dominate this country, and they benefit most from the leeway granted by the government’s favoritism. Until recently, the federal government’s viewpoint on marriage was based on a religious aspect of a union between only a man and a woman. Many Christian dates are national holidays in America, while no Jewish or Islamic holidays are nationally celebrated. We were not founded as a Christian nation, but over time, the First Amendment was ignored and we have become a de-facto Christian nation.
Now that I have railed against Christianity for a bit, I will give a peace offering. Christianity, in its many forms, is not inherently evil or power hungry. I don’t think any religion is. I do believe there is a higher power that gave us life. I think that we can live a good life and treat others well, and when it is all said and done, we will be judged on that, and not what religion we followed. I don’t think that any religion has the right answer so I chose to not follow any of them. I think people have the right to believe what they want. I think that they have a right to be a part of this country, and they have the right to share their beliefs and practice them freely. No religion truly condones the awful violence and hatred carried out in their name, so condemning an entire religion for the horrible things done by the few psychopaths that claim the religion should not be representative of the whole. Every religion has the right to freely practice in this country, even the people who pray to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
The point here is that no group should be above another in this country in any facet of life. No group in this country should be able to determine the rights and freedoms of another group either. In the same vein, the granted freedom and rights of one group should not infringe on the already present rights and freedoms of another group. LGBT Americans should have the same rights as everyone else. They should be as accepted as anyone else. If you have something against the LGBT community for no reason other than you are a hateful bigot, you have the right granted by the First Amendment to voice your opinion, but you are still a fucking asshole. If your religion precludes you from supporting the LGBT lifestyle, then that is your First Amendment right as well. Here comes the tricky part of this whole debate. What gives people the right to deny service, and why is it directly aimed at the LGBT community? The federal government woke up and did everything they could to open doors for this community, but some states are siding with religion and allowing discrimination based on being a part of the LGBT community. You want to talk about a double-edged sword? Here is the perfect example: approving these bills allows the continued persecution and discrimination based on unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment which a religion is held above another, and denying this bill will be an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment in which the government is not allowing its people to freely practice their religion. Yes, either way you go, you are violating the First Amendment because this whole battle is unconstitutional. No religion should been granted so much power to have sway over the government, and no group should have to fight for the rights they should already have as Americans.
My personal experiences with the battle for LGBT rights have come from watching the struggles of those around me. I have watched the past few years tear this country apart along so many dividing lines. Violence, hatred, racism, sexism, bigotry, and every other thing that could possibly plague a country as diverse as ours has reared its head. The ugliest thing is how hard people in this country fight against each other instead of for each other. As a member of the military, I have the privilege of serving this country and all who call it home. I didn’t join to serve in defense of one group or another, but for all. Men and women from every corner of this nation, and even people seeking citizenship joined up to do the same thing. It didn’t matter where you came from; all that mattered was that you were sacrificing for the country. Until recently, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was the military’s way of dealing with homosexuality without really addressing it. The myth was if you made it public knowledge, you would be discharged, but you were fine if you kept it to yourself. While there are people in the military who are homophobic, there are vast majorities who don’t have a problem with it. I knew several people in the military who were openly gay before DADT was repealed, and there was never a threat of being discharged. DADT was officially repealed in late 2011, which was monumental, but what they didn’t tell you, was that they still wouldn’t be able to receive the same rights as straight military members in reference to marriage and benefits. Those things did not change until 2013 when the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down and the federal government recognized same sex marriages as legal. It took another two years for the Supreme Court to block states from denying marriage benefits to military members because certain states did not recognize same sex marriage. While the military world is not perfect, they have found a way to help the communities coexist better. The fight for women’s rights is still ongoing, but progress is being made. My time in the military isn’t going to last forever, and I have a feeling that it will come to a close sooner than later due to my back problems, but I can say I am proud to be a part of a military generation that is working towards equality across the board.
I’m no fool. I know that this battle is something that will go on for a long time. Despite the progressive attitude that is starting to take hold in this country, we are still rooted deep in our past of being separated by our differences. I think the best thing that could happen from this is for people to push for the rights of everyone to be treated equally. I think we shouldn’t hold any religion over the other. I don’t think they should be involved in the lawmaking of this country or the states. I think the citizens of this country should be able to freely practice their religions, and I think any corporation or privately owned business that has a PUBLIC religious affiliation should be able to choose who they offer their business to. In that same line of thinking, those businesses and corporations should no longer receive tax breaks for their affiliations, and no religions should receive tax breaks or exemptions. No favoritism should be shown, and everyone should pay his or her dues. In reference to me saying that companies and businesses can choose whom they offer their business to, that is a slippery slope in and of itself. I think that most people would agree that you should be open and understanding with any customers/employees that you may have, and if you do have any codes of conduct, dress codes, or customer/employee requirements, they must be clearly stated and based in equality. People also have to learn to be respectful and treat people equally across all walks of life. We are all humans after all, and America is supposed to be the land of the free. I believe we can have religious freedom and equality along with LGBT freedom and equality. I think we can all be free and equal in this land, and all it takes is for us to realize that no matter what you believe, we have to work together to bring this country together again.
If you have any thoughts on this post or the subject in general, I would love to hear it. This is just my opinion, and I am only so informed. I love hearing from other people, and educated discussion is always encouraged. Conversely, if you think I’m a fucking idiot but are just being hateful and close-minded, don’t bother adding your input. Thanks.