By Rich Larson

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of SouthernMinn SCENE.

June is Pride month, so it’s as good a time as any for me, as editor of this magazine, to state my support of the LGBT community.

This, of course, is ridiculous. It’s like saying I support your right to live as a woman, or a man, or as a person of color. I might as well be saying I support your right to wear a green shirt. It feels condescending to say to another person “I support your right to be who you are.” It’s ridiculous because it should simply be a given. It should not matter.

NBA player Jason Collins has come out as a gay man, and the amount of support he has received is off the charts. I’m so happy to see Mr. Collins show that much courage and receive so much love and support in return, but at the same time, the whole thing turns my stomach. More than fifty years after the Civil Rights Act, we’re still having these inane conversations. We’re still judging people based on prejudice and ignorance. It’s true that society has come a long way toward tolerance and acceptance (more condescending words) of the Gay and Trans communities, but we are still debating whether or not we should grant basic civil rights to a subsection of our population.

And, make no mistake this is indeed about civil rights. This is about ensuring every citizen of this country stands on equal ground. Right now, the Minnesota Legislature is debating whether or not to legalize gay marriage in our state. I’m confident this bill will pass, but think about the statement it makes should it not. It relegates an estimated 10% of the population to second-class citizens. It says that, while we are happy to collect tax money from them, we cannot allow them to live like the rest of us. They will not be allowed to bond with the person they love.

Some have suggested a consolation prize in the form of Civil Unions. We should not allow them to marry, but grant them – ideally – every legal right a marriage bestows upon a couple. They can be together, just not married.

There was a phrase for this in the mid-twentieth century. They called it separate but equal, and used it as a doctrine to justify segregation. It was a farce then, and it’s a farce now. If everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, why do we need to make a distinction between heterosexual and homosexual love?

Oh, that’s right. It’s because some people believe that’s how God wants it.

The problem with that argument is that this is not a religious debate. Sorry, it’s just not. Nobody in the legislature is seeking to change Catholic doctrine, or the by-laws of Judaism, or the beliefs of the Lutheran Church. If a priest does not want to marry a gay couple, this law will not force him to do that. It simply recognizes the right of that priest to marry the couple if he so chooses.

Time and time again I’ve heard that marriage equality is a threat to the institution of marriage, but that’s all I’ve heard. Not one person has made a compelling argument to me that allowing my gay friends to marry will threaten my own marriage. I have yet to be convinced that allowing someone to live in peace and happiness will put me in danger.

The God I’ve always believed in taught me to love my neighbor, and to try to treat others the way I would want to be treated. So I choose not to treat anyone in a condescending matter. To the LGBT community: I support your right to marriage equality. I hope you’ll forgive me for feeling the need to say so.

Rich Larson is the Publisher and Managing Editor of  The Next Ten Words. Contact him at richlarson@nexttenwords.com. And if you like what you’ve read here, please CONSIDER THIS.

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