|To the Editor: Prejudice against sexual minorities is real|
|Written by Dan C. Shoemaker, Ph.D.|
|Monday, 17 August 2009 09:22|
I love my gay, lesbian, and transgendered friends every bit as much as I love my straight friends. More to the point, my GLBT friends are every bit as much citizens of this country as you or I, and are entitled to equal protection under the law as a Constitutional right.
I want my queer friends to be protected from discrimination in housing and employment the same way that other minority segments of society are protected by law.
As long as our culture stigmatizes people on the grounds of their sexual identity or expression, such legal protections will be necessary (and I can't tell you how many times I've heard students use homophobic epithets as derogatory terms on the supposedly-enlightened BGSU campus).
Discomfort with homosexuality on religious grounds can never be the basis for public policy, because we enjoy separation of church and state, and the First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing a preferred religion (it also states, "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States").
People who oppose fundamentalist theocracies in Iraq and Iran because of human rights violations should not support the establishment of a fundamentalist theocracy in our country that would violate human rights (which is what some people are doing when they say they should be allowed to discriminate against homosexual because the Bible tells them so).
Having a deep religious faith does not excuse citizens from their obligations to uphold the Constitution and the principles of a civil society; the freedoms of democracy require a degree of pluralism, not orthodoxy. And in my church, Jesus does not endorse intolerance. No segment of society that engages in legal behavior should be singled out as a target for discrimination.
Objections to the proposed ordinance which presume that (perfectly legal) homosexuality leads to or is identical with child molestation (an illegal act) are themselves prejudiced and inflammatory, as well as being ignorant.
I implore you to see through the fog of fear and intolerance, and instead achieve clarity with the light of freedom and justice. Prejudice against sexual minorities is real, and legal protections against it are required, if we want to live in a just society predicated on freedom and equality.
Dan C. Shoemaker, Ph.D.
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