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Posts Tagged ‘discrimination’

I’ve had to remind myself this week that I still live in the United States of America. I had to check and make sure the Constitution was still in place, and, for good measure, I checked to make sure the Bill of Rights hadn’t been changed. My fear was that rich, white men were the only ones who were now entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

My main thoughts and most of my focus, much to my dismay, has been on religion.  The President was to sign an Executive Order that would grant exemptions for religious believers, schools and businesses, to federal laws they disagree with – mainly LGBT and abortion rights laws.  You know – an Executive Order that would allow people of faith to discriminate based on their beliefs – they called it – “Religious Liberties.” Thankfully, but much to the dismay of the evangelical folks, these exemptions were not included in this Executive Order.

This whole thing has made my head, and my heart hurt.

I do not understand anyone who goes to a church who tells you it’s okay to discriminate. Even if you believe in your heart you don’t agree with discrimination, my thinking is this; if you can sit in that pew and listen to the sermons, there is a part of you that does agree. And even if you say to yourself, I don’t agree with that – If you give them money, you’re supporting discrimination. I’m sorry, but that’s just how I feel.

I’m gay, so perhaps my take on anti-LGBT preaching’s may be different that a straight person, but they shouldn’t be.  I just know I could never support a church that tells me it’s okay to discriminate or that someone is less than simply because of who they are.

Personally, A church that tells anyone they are less than, is not a place I want to be. A church that tells anyone they must pray the gay away to get to heaven, is not a place I want to be. Any church that feeds the hungry, clothes the poor and does good works, and yet discriminates and pickets and marches against LGBT people – well, that’s not a place I want to be either. You either love all people as they are, or you don’t. You either believe God made us all in his image, or you don’t. Period.

This is the reason I no longer attend church. The picking and choosing of who we should vote for, who we should discriminate against, what passages of the Bible we should read…  It’s not for me.

We are all human beings. Every one of us. I want the same respect given the straight woman who lives her life just trying to help people. We’re no different in the eyes of God.

As a nation, we already have “Religious Liberty.”  The Founders made sure of that in The First Amendment.

“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.”

What these evangelical people want, is the freedom to discriminate. Against women, against LGBT, against anything and anyone who doesn’t fit into their little religious box.  They not only want it, they want it to be the law of the land.

We are all searching for something. We’re all just trying to make our way in this world as best we can. Personally, I do what I know to be right and just. I write and march and protest for everyone to have an equal shot at this thing we call life. I believe that equal rights are human rights.

I don’t hang with people who are negative and have hate in their heart. I walk away from people who like to tell me I’m bound for hell because of who I am.

I try and spread kindness, and I do what I can to let other gay people know it’s okay to come out. It’s okay to be who you are. It’s okay.

And it is okay. No matter what your family, your church, even your government may throw at you…

It’s okay.

You’re okay.

Your life matters.

You matter.1-DSC_1766

 

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Lately, there have been lots of words written and spoken about being an American. What makes you an American, what your responsibility is as an American, how to act like an American.  You’ve heard the remarks; you’ve seen the headlines.

Not putting your hand over your heart when the star spangled banner is played, not standing and facing the American flag when said song is played, and folks getting all upset because these people aren’t acting like the “real” Americans want them to act.  These “real” Americans write all sorts of vile comments telling the non-flag wavers, non-star spangled banner singers to leave the Country. Like they have any right to tell them anything.

The thing is – being an American is having the freedom to do all of those things.  Just as these “real” patriots have the right to spew their beliefs, those folks not standing or singing or taking off their hats or putting their hand over their heart – they have the freedom to do so – it’s their right under the Constitution. You may not like it, but this is what America is.

Being an American isn’t just about waving a flag and singing a song.  Being an American is about respecting everyone’s right to not wave the flag or not sing a song.  It doesn’t make them any less of an American, it just means they aren’t what you expect an American to be. And therein lies the rub.

It’s not about who they are – it’s about who you are. We love to tote the Freedoms:  Religion, Speech, Expression, Guns. And we love to love to speak of our rights: to vote, to protest, to own homes and watch whatever we choose on television, to wear whatever clothes make us comfortable, to listen to whatever music soothes our souls, and on and on and on.

But, as soon as someone does something we would never think of doing – then they aren’t an American, and they need to leave the United States.  Do you not see how ridiculous that is? Everyone born in the United States of America has the same right and freedoms, everyone.  Sadly, not everyone has the same opportunities, but they do have their Creator-given, unalienable rights. (Read the preamble to the Declaration of Independence)

Let’s stop worrying about the things that don’t matter.  Just because someone might not wave a flag doesn’t mean they don’t love their country. And just because they don’t sing a song doesn’t mean they aren’t a patriot.  It may simply mean that they aren’t happy with the way things are in their country at this point in time.  It may simply mean that we are all supposed to have the same rights under that flag, and it’s obvious that to them we all don’t, and this not standing or singing or whatever – is their form of protest. It’s not about you – the world does not revolve around you and your beliefs. The United States of America is filled with all genders, all religions, all political parties, all matter of people from sea to shining sea. The one thing we all share is our individual freedom.  It’s the most important thing – this freedom.

Not waving a flag or singing a song is the least of the problems we face as Americans at this point in time. Donald Trump has unleashed the – build the wall – lock her up – ship them out – hatred that we now must deal with.  These gun-toting, flag waving, hate-mongering fools who want to “Make American Great Again” who have forgotten that America is not just about the white men-folk.

As is their right to voice their “make America great again” opinion, it is my right, No, it is my duty, to voice my “America is already pretty great” opinion in opposition to their nationalistic point of view.  America is an inclusive nation, not a nation of wall builders. Do things need to be changed and tweaked and started anew?  Of course, but ostracizing millions of people is most certainly not the answer.

It all starts with me and with you. I may not like someone turning their back on the flag, but I stop myself and think that I don’t know their story. I don’t know from where they came and why they feel so apart from everyone. Perhaps if I knew, I’d understand – so I don’t judge, and I certainly don’t tell them to leave.

I’m a white woman raised in a small rural town in the 1950’s that didn’t allow blacks into town after a certain hour – How can I possibly understand the life’s journey of a black woman born and raised outside of those town limits?  I can’t – so I don’t even pretend that I do. It’s not for me to judge, it’s for me to understand that her version of freedom may be different than mine, and to understand that she may not have the same affection or respect for our nation’s history as I might.

I’m also a lesbian, so I do know a little of how it feels to be judged and set apart from the rest of society. I’ve not been served in restaurants, I’ve been ostracized from family, I’ve been called every derogatory name one can think of; And still, I believe in the goodness of America.

It’s about respect and understanding. It’s about inclusion not exclusion. It’s about freedom – for everyone.  It’s about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and ALL its Amendments representing every single American citizen. You can’t pick and choose who gets what – every citizen is entitled to every single right, every single amendment, every single Freedom.

Waving the flag doesn’t make you an American – respecting the right of someone to not wave the flag – now that – that makes you an American.

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Since the Salvation Army is on every street corner and outside every store with their little red kettles trying to reach your heartstrings at this time of the year, I’m thinking perhaps this is the right time to fill you in on the do-gooders who aren’t really such good doers.

Let me state upfront that the Salvation Army has done good works – I don’t deny this – what I’m saying is this…  If you’re gay or you support gay rights – you should not put money in the little red kettles.

The Salvation Army has a history of discrimination against gays and lesbians here in the States and elsewhere in the world.  Yes, they do offer their services to all who are in need, however if you are a practicing homosexual (having sex) then you are ineligible for full membership in the Salvation Army. They also believe if you are a Christian and you are attracted to members of the same sex you should embrace celibacy as a way of life.   In other words – if you’re gay and having sex – you can’t work for them.

There are also documented cases of pure discrimination of gays and lesbians who went to the Salvation Army for help.  The gay couple was told that help would only come if they broke up and the lesbian couple and their children were told that they had two choices: One of the lesbian women could live on the street and the Salvation Army shelter would take the other lesbian and the children or… they could all sleep on the street.

The Salvation Army also gave money here in California to help Prop 8 halt the marriage rights of gays and lesbians.

Yes, I’m aware that The Salvation Army is a Christian organization whose roots are deep in the teachings of the Bible. And yes, I’m also aware that The Salvation Army is considered a “church” and thus entitled to all the tax-exempt and other misguided “gifts” our government deems to bestow upon them.  And yes, I do understand that they have every right to make their own rules and serve whomever they please. It doesn’t mean that I have to agree or that I can’t voice my total disgust with their system.

Maybe it’s just me – But I believe that an organization that labels itself a charity and collects money from anyone and everyone – should in turn give services to anyone and everyone. If I were to place money in one of those little red kettles would that bell-ringer ask me first is I was a member of the LGBTQ Community?  Would the money fly back out of the kettle because it was “unclean?”  Of course not – they take the money from everyone – but if my partner Susan and I needed their help – help would not be forthcoming without some sort of straight hoop for us to jump through.

So, just to be clear… LGBTQ money is perfectly fine to flow through the Salvation Army – but the LGBTQ Community is not worthy to partake in what help flows from our own contributions.  Does this make any sense to you – on any level?

Try and imagine how you would feel if you needed help and were turned away from a shelter simply because of who you are and who it is you fell in love with.  Charity is defined as something given to a person in need, there’s nothing in the definition about exceptions for the LGBTQ Community.  These exceptions belong entirely to The Salvation Army.

If you are considering where to give your money this year, I’m asking you to walk past the little red kettles, and please consider your local food bank, or Habitat for Humanity or any of the many different charities who offer help without any sort of prejudice.

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What is it about the Gay Community that frightens the Straight Community so? What is it about the Gay Community that frightens the Evangelical Community so?  I really don’t understand why there isn’t common ground to be found.  Why is it that gay folks can’t believe in Jesus and live a spiritual life in the eyes of the Evangelical? I don’t believe for a moment that Jesus was a gay-bashing preacher, so where does the gay-bashing anger come from?

I’m not being a smart-ass, I’m really asking.

I don’t understand the whole hatred thing.  I don’t understand how my 30 year relationship with Susan has endangered the world as we know it.  I don’t understand how a parent can love a child beyond all measure until the moment their child declares they are gay – and then, in a blink of an eye, that child no longer has a parent, a sibling, a family.  I don’t understand how people who profess that they live their lives according to the teachings of Jesus can talk and act and vote with so much hate in their heart.

Again – I’m not being a smart-ass, I really don’t understand.

I don’t understand the folks who go to any College or University which only allows certain people to attend. In my mind, if you only surround yourself with people just like you, and learn only the things that fit into what you believe – then I have to wonder how you will ever adjust and grow and succeed in a world that certainly doesn’t fit into any mold.  How does one learn of other cultures, or religions, or politics or history if the only thing you are learning is what you already know?  And how does one learn tolerance and understanding, and compassion when being educated in an environment that discriminates?  I’m aware that there are Universities and Colleges where I would not be permitted to attend, but really, is it a place I would want to go?

Again – I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m simply saying I do not understand.

I don’t understand how, when we all know of the inequities in the world, there are those who continue to do everything in their power to make said inequities almost impossible to overcome. We only seem to want to help people in the aftermath of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, etc.  I don’t believe the thought of helping people on a daily basis, just because it’s the humane thing to do, enters the conscious thought of most Americans.  And certainly, this humane thought doesn’t enter the conscious mind of many politicians, who do have the power to make a difference. They don’t seem to want to make a difference that might work for the common good.

Again – I honestly don’t understand.

And finally – I don’t understand these folks who fight with everything power they can buy to stop abortion, and yet… They support the death penalty and sending people to war.  And if they knew the fetus was gay – would they still want the child to be born? And if we drop bombs and kill millions of innocent children – would those deaths be okay? How do these folks determine which life is worth saving? Is there some sort of litmus test for a life worth living?

Again – I really don’t know – I’m asking.

Perhaps there are no answers – I just don’t want to believe that hatred, racism, homophobia are things we really have to live with… If only…

 

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