Bigotry is a two-way street

Equal rights are not just about race. To most students at UK, the term equal rights is not even synonymous with color of skin, but sexual orientation. Our generation is fighting for LGBT rights.

While many students, particularly in a conservative state like Kentucky, may be fighting against it, polls show roughly 75 percent of college grads and college-age people actually support equal rights.

At what point do we reach equality? Lexington and four other Kentucky cities believe they have taken a huge step by passing the Fairness Ordinance, effectively banning discrimination on the basis of sexual preference. But what does this law actually mean in practice? It is not as simple as the name might suggest.

Bigotry is a two-way street. Just recently the friend of my very close gay friend decided I was, among other things, a “pompous arrogant ‘jerk’ who had never had to face any real challenges in my life. Look at your daughter, your life is perfect. You don’t have any problems.”

My crime? Discussing tax policy implications of gay marriage.

While my accuser was apparently flabbergasted by the revelation, I had to ask why having a daughter makes me a jerk.

I am not an opponent of marriage equality, but I have never rallied for or with supporters for one simple reason: I do not want the association. Please do not read that the wrong way. I have no problem with the LGBT community, and love my gay friends just as I love my straight friends. Associating with gays and lesbians is in no way negative, but many supporters take it too far — to the types of bigotry shown by my accuser.

Nobody should be fired for being lesbian, gay bi or transgendered. That is pretty much unanimous in 2013, even among some of the most ardent opponents of LGBT measures like gay marriage. If every aspect of the law was as clear as that case, you could stop reading right now and the rest of this column would mean nothing. But sometimes it seems equal rights tip the scale too far and become unequal.

Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery in Gresham, Ore., had to close down their store because of the LGBT attacks that came from choosing not to bake a cake for a gay wedding. Here in Lexington, Hands On Originals, a clothing company, faced backlash for refusing to print T-shirts for a gay pride event. Hands On Originals employs gays and lesbians and sells to them regularly.

They simply did not want to print a message that contradicts their Christian beliefs. Failing to understand this seems as close-minded to me as a Christian telling a gay person they do not even know they are going to hell because of who they are. This type of thing is becoming more and more common, which is why the definition of fairness is so important.

Should Christians be forced to abandon their religious beliefs in the name of fairness? Is it fair to eliminate the First Amendment that guarantees freedom of religion in the name of fairness? If we force a Christian DJ to abandon his beliefs and service a gay wedding or shut down his business, have we achieved fairness? Having many friends on both sides of this issue has helped broaden my understanding in ways I now realize most people have not considered.

Christianity does not teach hate, and Christians that do hate are sinning. But opposing gay rights is not a causal relationship with hate.

Many good Christians have no malice to the LGBT community, but because their religion teaches them it is a sin, they do support it. Why don’t they make a different choice, many gay people ask? Because to those whose beliefs do not allow them to support gay marriage, they have no choice. Asking them to make this choice is as unreasonable to them as it is for them to ask a gay person to choose to be straight.

Most gays and lesbians will tell you being gay is part of who they are; they did not choose to be gay. Many Christians feel exactly the same way. It is who they are; to ask them to just choose not to oppose homosexuality is as ludicrous as asking someone to just be straight.

Society expects Christians to be accepting of everyone and never voice opposing views — or else it is labeled bigotry. But society never sees anything wrong with gays, liberals, atheists and teenagers having zero acceptance of Christianity. Why is it that Christians are considered oppressive if they voice their opposition to public displays of sex (homosexual or heterosexual), drunkenness or foul language, but it is never considered oppressive if any of these people express their opposition to Christian beliefs?

A fairness ordinance is a great thing, as long as it achieves true fairness. However, often one person’s fairness is another person’s oppression. So it is time to ask ourselves what we stand for? Gay rights and fairness may not be the same thing. Religious rights and fairness may not be the same thing. It is time to truly support the cause of fairness. Can’t we all just get along?

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