Staying up well past my bedtime last night I viewed as much of the hearing as I could (via the Internet) on Anchorage, Alaska's proposed ordinance to add LGBT persons to their anti-discrimination law. Was anyone else disturbed by the nearly uniform wearing of red shirts by all those who testified in opposition to the ordinance? Had I been sitting on the board hearing the testimony, I would have been upset that a simple session for citizen comments would be usurped by what appeared to be a calculated, organized movement. People from well outside Anchorage spoke against the ordinance... no doubt people from Sarah Palin's own home congregation.
I wrote down several themes, from both proponents and opponents. What I finally sorted out for myself today boils down to this: those who oppose making explicit a LGBT person's rights are afraid. Here is what they have been led to fear:
- They will no longer be able to freely discriminate against members of the LGBT community.
- In addition, they will no longer be able to assert their dominance as the major religion, forcing their ideas and beliefs on others.
I do not care what my neighbors believe when it comes to religious precepts. What I would care about is if my neighbors took it upon themselves to set me straight according to their religious beliefs by haranguing and harassing me. (I do wish Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons would stop knocking on my door, trying to enlist me in their belief systems.)
Our country does have freedom of religion. It also has, or should have, freedom from religion. Extreme fundamentalists and proselytizers have the option to kick out their gay son or daughter from their own house. They have the option to refuse entry to a transgender person from their house of worship. They have every right to turn away a gay couple who asks to be married in their church. But each of us also has the right to be respected when we ask evangelists of whatever flavor to leave our front porches or get out of our faces at women's health clinics or on the streets. Each of us should have the right to be hired and perform our jobs with excellence regardless of our religious or personal beliefs, regardless of our gender or sexual orientation, and regardless of our race. Each of us should have the right to rent an apartment as long as we have the finances to do so and no history of trashing places.
There were a couple very egregious things I heard from the "red shirt" crowd last night. One was that 'teh gay' was a behavior, a choice, and therefore was not worthy of an extension of civil rights. To that I say, your choice of religious beliefs is also a choice. Why should one segment of society be told to change their "choices" while your choices remain unassailed? What makes your "choices" any better than anyone else's? (Let it be known that I do not subscribe to the view that 'teh gay' is a matter of choice.) The other was that laws should not be made to grant benefits to minorities when the majority was against it. When it comes to civil rights, it is our responsibility to make sure that minorities are protected from majorities. That is what civil rights is all about! One speaker even revealed his fear that by affirming the civil rights of LGBT persons the ordinance would essentially be enforcing a religion of tolerance on all. How fallacious.
If you run a business, you are no longer an individual. You report to the state, the state licenses you to run the business, you have to follow business rules. That goes whether you are silk-screening T-shirts in a garage somewhere or renting apartments that you own. As an individual, if you do not want to invite a lesbian to your backyard barbeque, fine. As a business who places advertisements for workers, you need to hire based on qualifications and not your own personal againstments.
I am not a "Christian," but I honestly don't think Jesus would mind hanging out with LGBT folks at all. And I hope that the body in Anchorage responsible for deciding on this ordinance keeps in mind that the state is supposed to keep itself separate from the church.
Red is the color of passion, war, power, wanting attention...
"Better dead than red"
"Was my face red"
"The devil wears red"