Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Humanity. Health. Happiness.

Tag: gay rights

The other

rainbow hands

It’s a rare and glorious moment to witness a Supreme Court ruling that makes rights for some, the law of the land for everyone.

I wasn’t around when slavery and segregation ended or when women were given the vote. My rights as a citizen were fought for me and have been readily available, although gender equality still isn’t done.

I can hear my future grandchildren say as I once did about women and the vote,  “You mean gay people couldn’t get married at one time? That’s just stupid.”

Today’s Supreme Court ruling was fast-tracked social justice (in contrast to other social change) and a sign I think, of our evolving consciousness as humans.

Believe it or not we’re getting closer to getting ourselves right, faster. This, despite the daily dousing of negative media images that distort our self-perception to one where humans are an innately decent well-intentioned species rather than merely a survival-based selfish creature DNA-designed to repeat the horrors of our past.

On the whole (not to dismiss the ugly realities of racism or extremists) I think we’re less threatened by the “other” seated next to us in schools, churches, government and business. We spend time with “other” in our day-to-day and it turns out, they’re not so unlike us.

They bleed. They breathe. They want safety, food, love, validation, prosperity and to smile.

As well, we’re increasingly becoming an ambiguous blend of “contradictions” which in turn breaks stereotypes and opens dialogue. The gay conservative Republican. The self-proclaimed feminist male from the South. The conservative in favor of immigration reform. The Democrat not convinced by man-made climate change. The pro Obamacare Republican in favor of upping the minimum wage and gun control. The Democrat against all three.

Brown skin, black or Asian. Atheists chatting with Hindus at my UU church. Muslims and Christians sharing coffee with surprising opinions that wander from expectation. Modern Family is our family or at the very least, our neighborhood or our town. We remain distinct individuals, one of a splendid kind, and we still align with our culture or gender or religion or race or sexual orientation because humans are tribal creatures who crave connection inside our homogeneous circles.

While extremists grow more paranoid with the “other,” and so more emboldened, the majority seems to accept we’re a mixed bag with increasingly a la carte views.

The rational among us know factionism keeps humans from our original design, to cooperate through kinship, rather than conquer through tribal warfare.

But for people afraid of losing their distinctive identity, not to worry.

Whites won’t disappear. Christians won’t fade. Families won’t disintegrate. Marriage won’t wither in favor of singledom. God won’t ever go out of fashion.  Conservatives will remain. Liberals will stay.

I wasn’t old enough to consider the impact of birth control and reproductive rights that changed the lives of women whose trajectory was decided by one unplanned pregnancy after another. Even so, I never had to consider what it would mean not to control my own baby-making because my biology made the choice for me.

At 19 I learned I had a benign pituitary disorder that meant if I ever wanted to get pregnant I’d need fertility intervention. I’ve only had to consider reproductive rights for the future of my daughter and other women.

I’ve never had to fight for the vote, child labor laws, worker’s rights or marriage equality because my birthright and the work of others before me, did all the work.

And yet, the rights of “others” have always felt for me, like human rights. Without defending theirs how could I deserve mine? 

Op-Ed: Our Weddings, Our Worth

 

 

 

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God, Guns but no gays? My Letter to this Kentucky business owner

Image: Wikimedia Commons

I just sent the following email to this Kentucky business owner. I’m HORRIFIED his family received death and rape threats for his store policy, but I’m also horrified at his policy.

Dear Herald Owner,

I am terribly sorry your wife and children received death and rape threats in response to your policy to “refuse to produce promotional products that promote homosexuality.” I’m glad the two men were charged with Terrorist Threats in the Third Degree. What your family went through was horrific, inexcusable and undoubtedly terrifying.

I am however, deeply saddened that in this day and age a company would deny service to a citizen based on sexual orientation under the protection of “religious beliefs.” What if my religious beliefs didn’t for example, support “promoting” people of color or bi-racial children or, or, or….

I understand you allow the LGBT community in your store, but by refusing to embroider anything that reflects sexual orientation, you are indeed, blatantly discriminating.

Please don’t invoke Scripture to validate your discriminatory stance. Instead, please pause and think for yourself. Does your policy even FEEL remotely God-like?

Your policy is anything BUT in line with the Jesus and God that I know. You mention that you “have been the victim of racism” and I’m terribly sorry. I hope your children will never feel the sting of racism, or any other “ism” in their lives. Yet somehow the pain you felt doesn’t resonate with the pain you cause someone under the protection of “religious beliefs?”

You must understand it’s simply impossible to “promote” one’s born sexual orientation any more than one can “promote” being white, black, female etc. I don’t promote my “female lifestyle” I am female. I didn’t decide to be Caucasian. I am Caucasian.

How old were you exactly, may I ask, when you decided to be heterosexual?

Your refusal to create products that “promote homosexuality” is no different than if a business owner refused service that “promoted the interracial lifestyle.”

If God was against our gay citizens God would not have created people attracted to the same-sex. If you can’t use compassion to grasp these concepts, please use good old-fashioned common sense.

The God I know is shaking His or Her head and frowning. I truly hope one day you’ll sit down with yourself and realize that refusing service based on one’s sexual orientation is the same as refusing service based on race, ethnicity, gender etc. The Bible isn’t a book of conveniently held beliefs or a book to uphold discriminatory practices, the Bible is an interpretation through the prism of Man and I’d suggest, a reflection of what sits in one’s heart.

I hope your children will know true grace as they grow; I hope they will know, despite their parent’s views, that all God’s children, born who they are, deserve respect and equal service.

God, guns but no gays? Shame on your Kentucky lawmakers.

Sincerely,
Laura Owens

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Gay marriage a serious ill of our nation? We’re sick alright, but that’s not the issue.

An Orlando Sentinel reader wrote the following opinion letter:

(Gov) Scott should stand steady

Comparing same-sex marriage and integration is like comparing apples and oranges (Letters, Wednesday, JoAnn Lee Frank).

There are many people in the state of Florida who find the subject of gay marriage to be one of the many serious ills that America faces, rather than a good thing. This is one of the issues that is tearing the fabric of this great country apart.

If Gov. Rick Scott has any morals and intestinal fortitude, he will maintain his stand against same-sex marriage and be known as a wise and prudent leader who stood by decency and left a legacy that can be admired.

~ K.B. 

My response:

I respectfully disagree with KB who wrote in her March 24th opinion “there are many people in the state of Florida who find the subject of gay marriage to be one of the many serious ills that America faces, rather than a good thing” and that this is “one of the many issues that is tearing the fabric of this great country apart.”

Sexual orientation, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is not a national illness in need of a cure. If it is, ask yourself when you first realized you were heterosexual. Next, ask yourself when you sought treatment.

The fabric of our nation weaves stronger when we’re not threatened by law abiding citizens who happen to be different than ourselves. Support of gay marriage in Florida continues to gain ground so to fight against a changing public tide is to flail against a strong and relentless undercurrent. Lawsuits against same-sex marriage bans are cropping up all over the nation’s court systems. In January 2014 Public Policy Polling found 47% of Floridians support gay marriage and 44% opposed. This the first time the company found a plurality supporting it

To ban citizens the same marital and adoption rights I’m afforded goes against the 14th Amendment for Equal Protection (states must apply the law equally and cannot discriminate against people or groups of people arbitrarily) and it throws energy into widening rather than narrowing, social divide. Gay men and women aren’t a special interest group screaming “me, me, me,” they’re citizens seeking equal protection. They deserve what I deserve. No more, no less.

What tears at the fabric of our nation is to deny gay adults the right to marry (and to adopt children who need homes) thereby denying the full legal spectrum of marriage, the joy of raising children and the dignity of sanctioned social acceptance. If a citizen can’t internalize support for gay marriage and gay couples adopting (I understand acceptance takes time and sometimes it never happens) then as a nation we must externalize our citizens’ inalienable rights through the law of the land.

To ban gay couples from marrying or adopting children is from my view ethically wrong and cruel. It’s also entirely impractical because thousands of children need loving homes. Loving a child transcends sexual orientation.

How does a gay couple who married and adopted a child in one state move to Florida on a job transfer and explain to their daughter that their life is now a legal no-no? “Your Dad and I love each other and we love you, but this isn’t quite okay enough in Florida?”

I hope through the beauty of a child’s pure mind she never understands any of this. I certainly never will.

Wake up Sunshine State. Time to see the light.

 

Footnote: Florida Public Policy Poll:  http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2014/PPP_Release_FL_122.pdf

 

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Turn gays away bill: NOT business 101

No Shirt.

No Shoes

No Service.

P.S. If you’re a same-sex couple, take a hike.

Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey introduced a Bill which would permit persons and religious or denominational organizations  based on sincere religious belief, to refuse to provide services or goods in furtherance of a civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage not recognized by the Tennessee Constitution. 

If you can’t stomach the idea of same-sex coupling (civil unions, domestic partnership, same-sex marriage) for Biblical or other reasons then disagree without attack or taking away rights.

The Federal Civil Rights Act guarantees all people the right to “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

This Bill would entitle business owners based on religious belief, the right to refuse service if a same-sex couple wants to further or celebrate their coupling. By that standard that’s everything in the store. The list of what humans use to further or celebrate their life is infinite.  Housing, food, lamps, medicine, toe nail clippers, party hats, orchids, medical care, a dog, laundry detergent, bug spray.

Go away customer; I can’t sell you Sinner-services or No Repent-ware.

My outrage is probably a waste of time. This Bill won’t pass. It’s discriminatory, arcane and laughable.

This Bill is also mean.

“I would feel like what I need doesn’t matter,” said Priscilla Majano a sophomore majoring in child development at The University of Memphis.  “Like I’m worthless,”  “State senator introduces new bill coined “turn the gays away”

But okay forget being nice. Values trump being nice, right?

Practically speaking this isn’t smart business. The gay population has weighty buying power which translates to disposable personal income or DPI, total after-tax income available to an individual to spend on personal consumption, personal interest payments or savings.

On principle you can argue losing business doesn’t matter compared to holding to one’s values. Pride comes before the fall ~ Proverbs 16:18.  I can’t imagine sending someone away who has good money to spend in my business (except sexual predators and Neonazis).

I’m curious what a Turn Gays Away scenario will look like.

A same-sex couple walks into a locally owned hardware store to buy a boatload of supplies. They want to expand their family room now that they’re living together.

“I’m sorry sirs but we don’t serve same-sex couples,”  says the store owner or clerk who discerns sexual orientation from his/her own spot on gay-dar.

“Oh, okay then,” says the couple. “Can you give us directions to the hardware store for gay people? By the way, I’m really thirsty. I have diabetes. Is your water fountain for everyone or do you offer separate spigots for straights and gays?”

For an added-value bonus some kids might be milling about the hardware store and overhear the conversation.  Kids are blind to adult idiocy until they absorb it later on. Kids ask questions about something that seems new or out of their ordinary, “Mommy, why won’t that person sell those two men a hammer?”

If this passed in Florida, (It won’t, the country hasn’t lost its mind and neither has Florida) I’d have to stop visiting heterosexual businesses with a Turn Gays Away policy. It goes against my religion.

My guess is Dan Cathy, President of Chick Fil-A who publicly opposes gay marriage, wouldn’t refuse catered chicken platters to same-sex couples who order food for a civil union or marriage reception.  Mr. Cathy disapproves but he’s not legally discriminatory.  He and gay activist Shane Windmeyer are friends so Mr. Cathy is open-minded.

Mr. Cathy and I will never agree on the foundational issues of gay rights.

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’ and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about,” Cathy said in that interview, which can be heard here.”

Indeed. I’m prideful, arrogant and audacious enough to define marriage as love between two committed adults. I don’t define marriage by a human- created and Interpreted Guide to God.  I  don’t fear judgment in the afterlife.  I believe Hell exists in the Here and Now.

More reading:  Sen. Kelsey introduces ‘Turn The Gays Away 

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