Trending toward discrimination

Posted on 23 Jan 2015 at 8:05am

Marriage equality moves ever closer to being the law of the land, but the bigots keep looking for loopholes

Haberman-Hardy-
As more and more state laws against same-sex marriage fall in the courts, I see an alarming trend elsewhere: People are claiming it is their “religious right” to discriminate against LGBT people.

While this is absolutely their right as individuals, it is not their right as owners of public enterprises, as law enforcement officials, as civil servants and as other folks involved with serving the public either for profit or civic duty.

Yet this is the argument being made.

Apparently, the idea that gays and lesbians could get some kind of equal treatment so raises the hackles of some Americans that they have to find loopholes in the law to continue not just their personal hatred, but to institutionalize discrimination. As an activist it makes me both sad and mad.

Let’s start with the “sad” part.

I have to believe that the people who are so vehement in wanting to deny us equal rights are not doing so based on logic.

Logically, there is no reason for it. Therefore, I must assume it comes from something broken in them that leads them to search for scapegoats. They believe that their own misery must be caused by someone else, especially if finding that “cause” can divert them from examining their own condition and their own problems.

For example, “My marriage is in trouble because my spouse and I don’t spend enough time working on the relationship, therefore it must be somehow hindered by those gay guys down the street. After all if I didn’t spend all my time worrying about what they do in the privacy of their bedroom, and imagining how their sex must be more strange and lascivious and sinful, then I’d have more time to spend with my spouse.”

It should come as no surprise that studies show the most vocal homophobic voices belong to people who are trying to suppress their own homosexual desires. This has been proven out in the public eye by politicians, clergy and public figures whose voices are the loudest against LGBT rights, and who are exposed through an indiscretion or scandal as deeply closeted gay or lesbians.

Though I experience more than my share of “schadenfreude” at their public exposés, in my heart I ache for their pain, knowing if they had only been able to accept their own orientation honestly, things would be better for everyone. The train wrecks of “ex-gays” betraying their wives, or vehement anti-gay politicians being caught in restroom sex stings make for entertaining television. But they have long-term consequences for the people involved that are less entertaining.

That brings me to the “mad” part of my reaction.

I am angry that people can’t leave me alone and let live my life, loving who I do in whatever way I choose without making it a political statement.

I am angry that I have had to march on our nation’s capital, spend my hard-earned money supporting organizations that fight for my rights, writing letter after letter to a non-responsive politician until I have writer’s cramp.

I am angry that bigots with their badly spelled signs camp out at our parades and churches to spew their bile.

I am angry that we live in a country that finds it acceptable to put our rights to a vote! I am angry that my tax dollars support a system that categorically denies me the same rights as other citizens. I am angry that I have to write this damned column about a subject that should have been settled years ago.

So what the hell can I do about it?

Well, for one thing, I can try forgiving those broken folks who cause me such pain. And though that is small comfort, it is better than lashing out with the same vitriol I receive.

The second thing I can do is take action — not a protest or march, but direct action. I can get involved in the system that institutionalizes the homophobia and change it. That can be as simple as a vote, or as involved as running for office, something that I am more and more inclined to do.

The third possibility is one I am not really happy with, and that is pick up my toys and leave.

I have friends who have encouraged me to move to Canada, and others who are lobbying for South Africa. Both those countries have better protections for LGBT people and offer full citizenship regardless of sexual orientation. South Africa even has those protections written into its constitution, and that is certainly appealing.

The reason I am not going to leave is a stubborn streak ingrained in me by and inherited from my family. My maternal grandfather was an illiterate blacksmith, but he understood right and wrong and instilled in me that since of justice. He was a Roosevelt Democrat and he once told me if his hand ever pulled the lever for a Republican it would burn his fingers.

He refused to be bullied, and so do I.

So, if folks on the far right can claim it is their religious liberty to refuse to serve me, to protect me or allow me entrance to their place of business, I will claim my religious right to refuse to give them my money.

I will not just vote in elections, but vote with my feet and wallet. I consider that a sacrament, and to share my time or money with people who hate me is sacrilege.

I love the sinners, but not their sin.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 23, 2015.

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