Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Liberty and Justice for All - No Exceptions

The City of Lansing is considering a proposed human rights ordinance that would, among other things, prohibit harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and student and marital status. The ordinance is not asking for special rights for people. It's only asking that the law be applied equally to all people when it comes to housing, work, etc.

That should be a no-brainer in my opinion, but that's not how the American Family Association of Michigan sees it. They want the ordinance defeated and here's part of a letter they're circulating that shows how they plan to frame their attack:
Dear AFA-Michigan supporter,

Please stand with us by contacting the Lansing City Council today to urge that council members defeat a discriminatory and dangerous ordinance granting special “rights” to individuals who engage in homosexual behavior or cross-dressing.
How Christian of them. Sadly, they appear to have supporters. Lansing's City Council opened their chambers to public comments on Monday and here's a real gem from one citizen opposed to the ordinance:
Robert Riley, 73, said he stood against the proposal because homosexuals were "sick people" who didn't deserve "special treatment."

"What they need is help from a psychiatrist," said Riley of Lansing. "If this passes, I might have to move."
Too bad Riley didn't listen to these words of wisdom from one of Michigan's young people who also attended that meeting:
Maggie Lowden, a junior at Holt High School, said she was for the ordinance as she pointed out the words of the Pledge of Allegiance.

"It says 'liberty and justice for all,'" she said. "If we want to change it, we should add the footnote 'as long as we declare them acceptable.'"
Ms. Lowden sounds wise beyond her years, and she definitely sounds loving and caring - attributes I would never use to describe the American Family Association. Their hateful attacks against homosexuals are based on the belief that homosexuality is a choice. Well, what if they're wrong? That's a question being posed by a Baptist minister:
What if Christian leaders are wrong about homosexuality? I suppose, much as a newspaper maintains its credibility by setting the record straight, church leaders would need to do the same:

Correction: Despite what you might have read, heard or been taught throughout your churchgoing life, homosexuality is, in fact, determined at birth and is not to be condemned by God's followers.

Based on a few recent headlines, we won't be seeing that admission anytime soon. [...] All this brings me back to the question: What if we're wrong?

Religion's only real commodity, after all, is its moral authority. Lose that, and we lose our credibility. Lose credibility, and we might as well close up shop.

It's happened to Christianity before, most famously when we dug in our heels over Galileo's challenge to the biblical view that the Earth, rather than the sun, was at the center of our solar system. You know the story. Galileo was persecuted for what turned out to be incontrovertibly true. For many, especially in the scientific community, Christianity never recovered.

This time, Christianity is in danger of squandering its moral authority by continuing its pattern of discrimination against gays and lesbians in the face of mounting scientific evidence that sexual orientation has little or nothing to do with choice. To the contrary, whether sexual orientation arises as a result of the mother's hormones or the child's brain structure or DNA, it is almost certainly an accident of birth. The point is this: Without choice, there can be no moral culpability.

[...]Watching the growing conflict between medical science and religion over homosexuality is like watching a train wreck from a distance. You can see it coming for miles and sense the inevitable conclusion, but you're powerless to stop it.
When science proves homosexuality is an accident of birth (and I believe they will prove it), will the AFA offer their apology and embrace the people they've attacked for years - the same people who are the sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, etc., of families who love them in spite of their differences?

We may be powerless to stop the science/religion wreck, but we're not powerless to stop discrimination. I hope Lansing passes that ordinance because, as the young H.S. student said, "liberty and justice for all" - there is no footnote, "as long as we declare them acceptable."

Related articles:
Lansing City Council - A (possible) Step in the Right Direction
American Family Association (AFA) of Michigan Goes After Lansing "Human Rights" Ordinance


Lew Scannon said...

An accident of birth? That makes it sound like there is something wrong being gay.

Zack said...

Hey, if Mr. Riley wants to leave, I say let him go. There are plenty of red towns in Michigan that would take him.

Also, props to the girl from Holt for sticking to her guns at the meeting. FYI, I graduated from HHS in 2002 ;-)

Anonymous said...

Fair Warning - I did a post about this several weeks ago and have received a LOT of angry emails and comments. I actually disabled the comment feature for that particular post because there were too many to keep up with.
Of course, all that doesn't mean that I pulled the post or don't stand by what I publish. Apparently now I'm public enemy No. 1 on their website, but that's fine with me. If my blog gets read, then folks get educated and perhaps get their eyes opened and they'll turn a new (and less hateful!) leaf.

Kathy said...

Lew, the wording is awkward, but I guess he's approaching it from the viewpoint that a birth free from any "accidents" creates a child with 10 toes, 10 fingers, etc., etc... Anything less than that is an accident (based on mankinds idea of what perfect is of course).

Zack, HHS sounds like a great school. They must teach good character! :-)

Lucy, thanks for the warning. It's too bad you had to disable comments, but I'm not surprised. I always wonder what people who spew that kind of venom hope to accomplish. They certainly don't win over people with their hateful words and I find they don't even present a good argument to base their opinions on. That leads me to conclude they fear people different from themselves because they're ignorant about what those people are really like.

Anonymous said...

Since there is a great deal of evidence that same-sex relationships and activities are found in "nature", the term "accident" seems inaccurate. Being gay is a natural occurance -- like blue eyes, hairy bodies, and big ears. My congenital nystagmous and congenital navel hernia were accidents, not being gay. Too bad I can't do much about my ears....