The Painful War Between LGBT Pride and Religious Prejudice

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. 

Guest Writers Wanted

I haven’t been using my blog as much as I’ve wanted to lately. As a writer, I’ve gone through cycles of productivity, and this has been a lengthy down period. During this time I’ve considered the idea of having guest writers on my blog, and I think it’s time to broach the subject on here.

Seeing as I call this a tribune, I would love for my blog to become a place with several contributors. I think that it would add an interesting dynamic to the site and perhaps spark more creativity and bring more readers around.

Anyways, here are my requirements if anyone is interested in being a guest writer:

  1. I will not accept anything that goes against my moral code. I have no problem with things that I may generally disagree with, but anything that is hateful or abusive will not be published.
  2. No agendas. I don’t need anyone pushing any propaganda or hocking products on here. If you want to do reviews or things like that, that’s fine, but this site isn’t here to sell stuff. If there are any special causes or things that you want to bring attention to, speak to me about it first and we will discuss it, but that is a very limited basis.
  3. You must present something that has substance and will not require heavy editing. I want pieces that are more than a Facebook post.
  4. I do not require specific topics or ideas, but I do want the subject to be something you are passionate about. This blog has never held to a theme. I love sharing my passions and I want you to do the same.
  5. No plagiarizing. If you quote or reference something, please include where you got it from.

I’m sure I will come up with more requirements as time goes along, but that is it for now. I want this to be a platform for people to share with the world. Some people don’t want to start a blog, but they do want to write from time to time. I would love to be able to give them a space to do so. I hope to have people come in and add some great new facets to Town’s End Tribune.

If you are interested, contact me via Facebook or email me at townsend3284@gmail.com. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from some interested writers!

Get Your Priorities Straight America Pt. 1

Disclaimer: This post contains topics that may offend those with tender sensibilities. This is just fair warning. I am not responsible for hurt feelings, crying, or anything of that nature. I’m aiming to get people worked up and possibly pissed off. Continue if you dare.


 

Let’s talk priorities folks. This country seems to have a significant lack of any clue about what should or shouldn’t be our main concerns. I’m not talking about the government, because it is in my best interest to have no opinion on the state of affairs of our current government since I am a service member. (I will get to the upstanding individuals who are running for president in a later post.) I am talking about the general population of the United States as a whole, who apparently lacks any sense when it comes to knowing what should be at the top of the To Do list. As to not make this a massively long post, I am going to break this up in to several entries. I have much to say on this subject, and I will invite any guest authors, if they wish to pitch in their two cents. I am willing to publish any posts by a guest author who presents either a rational addition or opposition to this series.

Episode I: Morality

First, we will address the topics that have people up in arms for no reason at all. Seriously, if you have a problem with any of these, you should just keep it to yourself. You being a jackass about it doesn’t do any good. Some people believe they exist on some moral high ground that makes them capable of judging others. You are not better, so stop it. Ignorance isn’t an excuse anymore so don’t even try. So here we go with some of the moral issues that so frequently make me wonder what the hell is wrong with society these days.

Breastfeeding in public: I am starting of with this one for a number of reasons, but the main one is that a kid has to eat. I’m not going to go hide in a booth somewhere every time I want to eat, so why should we force women to hide when they have to feed their kid? If she is comfortable enough to pop her boob out in public, then she is probably comfortable enough to cuss you out for that dirty look you are giving her for nourishing her child. Of all the things she could be doing, sustaining the life force of her offspring shouldn’t bear the brunt of your condescension. In addition, if you have a problem with a woman discreetly having her breast out to feed her child, but aren’t going to bitch about how women are generally objectified, you are a fucking hypocrite. Leave the lady in peace, and mind your own business.

Gay marriage: I know that there are the homophobes and religious types who are against this, but this country was founded with two principles that I would be remiss to not point out. The first of these is the freedom of religion, as a part of the First Amendment. This allows people to freely practice any religion they wish, or abstain from practicing one at all. What does this mean exactly? It means your religious opinion doesn’t matter. It’s yours, not theirs. As George Carlin said, “Keep thy religion to thy self”. This brings us to the second principle, which is the separation of Church and State. I know the lines on this are blurred and hotly debated, but the truth of the matter is that the church has no place in the governing of a country supposedly founded on religious freedom. So, with both points in mind, there are no reasons why gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed by the federal or state governments based on these guidelines. If you think the institution of marriage is sullied by the fact that two men or two women can get married, but not by the fact that you can get married by Elvis or in a drive thru, YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE. On a related topic, I think same sex couples should be able to adopt too.

There are so many more issues that are like the two listed above. I ask that if anyone has any inputs on subjects, please let me know. I will either add them, or I will post anything you write.

***

The last section below is a little bit different. This is something that pisses me off. The sheer stupidity of the following section aggravates me to no end.

Reality TV: What is wrong with humanity? Are we so morally bankrupt that we have to waste our lives watching spoiled, vapid, soulless people waste their lives doing pointless things and making ridiculous amounts of money for doing it? Do you understand how much money the Kardashians make? I simply cannot wrap my mind around the craze of follow the empty lives of these people and perpetuating the cycle of feeding their greed, while our educators and innovators starve and try to exist on next to nothing. The people we should be paying attention to are not these fake manufactured creatures. They aren’t even humans anymore. Their whole lives are scripted for TV and for the “entertainment” of sheep. How fucked up do you have to be as a person to have your mother not only involved in the making of your “personal sex tape”, but then she makes you go back and do it over because it wasn’t good enough? These are the people we idolize? Then the father…. oh where do I begin… first off, good for her. (I’m not sure I can say her, honestly. She says she identifies as a woman, but she is still technically a man. He still has the man parts… whatever… not my battle to fight.) I will admit that it takes courage to make that kind of decision, but I do not, and I repeat DO NOT think it merits being awarded the Courage Award at the ESPYs. I think there were far more deserving people than Caitlyn Jenner, but clearly that is my opinion. It’s a media circus, and while some of the intentions on her part are good, they are still self-serving. The whole reality TV trend is disturbing, and it is reaching a level of moral depravity because of society’s obsession with fame. It goes to show that my previous section’s points on our moral “standing” aren’t really that firm. Let’s say hello to our old friend hypocrisy.

***

So, to wrap up this first edition of my look into the messed up priorities of America, I want to leave you with a few last thoughts. I think that most Americans are generally good people. I don’t think they are morally devoid, soulless hell beasts that are going to destroy the world. This is an overall look at how I perceive America’s general priorities. I also want to help those in my life who I feel are being treated disrespectfully because of their decisions or lifestyle. This is just my take. I am open to replies, additions, and differing viewpoints. I will gladly post these on my blog, but I do reserve the right to refrain from doing so if I feel it is inappropriate. I hope this post has made you think a little bit, and I hope the rest of this series does as well. Thanks for reading.

 

 

MLK

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King

Today, we all celebrate the birth of a truly inspirational man. He fought for something he believed in, and he did much for a cause that was truly just. What he stood for was equality, which I think is something that should be the standard. I am a humanist, and I believe that every person should be judged based on his or her own merit and actions. I think that race, gender, religion, and any other dividing trait are excuses that people use to advance themselves above others. We are all humans, and therefore all equal. Dr. King dreamed of a world where men, women, boys, and girls of all colors could stand together united as one.

“I have a dream that one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

Dr. King was not a perfect man, and he was not treated fairly. He was persecuted and he was accused. People sought to ruin his reputation and slander is image, but they could not tarnish his message. The world lost a great man because of our inability to be good to our fellow humans.

“We must all learn to live together as brothers — or we will all perish together as fools.”

This past year has been rife with horrible incidents, and the worst part is the backlash and aftermath has caused so much more outward violence. As the quote at the top of the post says, we cannot cure the darkness with more darkness. We have to come together and stop this endless cycle of violence.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

Let this past year be a lesson going in to 2016. Remember the messages given to us by Dr. King and, as Americans, let us work together to make this country united. We have the ability to be understanding, compassionate, and strong together, but we have to be willing to do it. Dr. King was truly a special man, who can never be replaced. He was taken from this world too soon, but we must remember his words and honor his memory. Let us do him a service and start working towards making his dream truly a reality. Equality is achievable, but we have to work for it.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Rest In Peace Dr. King.