Protecting LGBTs in Sterling Heights
Point blank: if you’re truly for freedom, liberty and equality, you’re for freedom, liberty and equality for anyone and everyone, no questions asked. Anything else is authoritarianism disguised as morality.
As regular readers of this blog probably know, it has been months since I have published a post. I’ve had some big changes in my everyday work that have made big demands on my time.*
I remain plugged in to events in and around the city, however, and when the issue of this ordinance came up, I made the effort to attend the meeting and have my say. I feel it’s incumbent upon me to comment here as well. The issue is too important to ignore.
As I said last Tuesday, homosexuals have been part of humanity since antiquity. Their reception by the heterosexual majority depends on the culture they find themselves in and the vagaries of history, but nonetheless they have always been with us. We happen to be at a turning point in our history as a nation here where it has become permissible for homosexuals to identify themselves as such and agitate for fair treatment by the rest of us. Personally, I think this is a good thing.
My reasoning is simply that oppression is abhorrent. We wouldn’t tolerate discrimination against racial groups, religious groups, or national groups in matters of employment, housing, or public access, much less open discrimination. Such discrimination is clearly immoral, it creates the conditions for hostility and violence, and it is patently un-American in my view.
Why then would it still be okay in 2014 to discriminate against homosexuals? And why then were there so many folks claiming to be Christian turning out at last week’s meeting to protest and say that was exactly what they wanted the “freedom” to do? Are these people not aware that their God, Jesus Christ, embraced the lepers, the prostitutes, the poor and the disaffected? Do they not know that the Golden Rule applies to the least among us as well as the mighty? The hypocrisy and tone deafness astounds me.
Several others attempted to make the argument “there’s no discrimination of this sort going on in Sterling Heights!” Since when have the omniscient among us felt the need to come to City Council meetings? I should think that the all-knowing who can be so certain that no discrimination against LGBTs is taking place here would be spending their time stopping traffic accidents before they happened, winning big in Las Vegas, or perhaps making a killing in the stock market. I am saddened and amazed by the “logic” that these folks employ.
Discrimination is subtle. Discrimination is pervasive. Discrimination is part of the human condition, and if an especially pernicious form of it arises, good people everywhere need to stand together to stamp it out.
I stated at the meeting and will repeat here that I am acquainted with several folks in the gay community. I have a few observations: first, not a single one of them would have chosen to be gay, lesbian or transgendered considering the reaction society has toward them. Of course there are some who have come to terms with their homosexuality and have moved beyond acceptance of their plight to advocacy for their rights, but this is not the norm. These folks want to be left alone to lead their lives as they see fit, just like any of us do.
LGBTs would not be asking for or publicly supporting ordinances and laws such as this if it wasn’t necessary. I reject the idea that this is some sort of attempt to throw their increasing political weight around. If you looked at the people at the meeting the other night and saw what I did, you would understand this was not something these folks were doing for fun. In a very real sense, it was obvious these people were fighting a grave injustice against perceived long odds: you could hear it in the quavering of their voices and see it in the fear in their eyes. For most of us, taking on City Hall is a trial, not a hobby, and these folks are no exception.
I can’t claim to understand the motivations of the people who spoke against this ordinance the other night. I have my doubts that anything they dared to say in public represents their real feelings, but that’s idle speculation on my part. What I do know is this: the freedom that I enjoy in being able to buy a house, get a job, rent a car, eat at a restaurant, or hail a cab is not mine because I’m white, conservative, heterosexual and somehow special. It is mine because I am an American, and freedom is my birthright. I would be just as American if I was black, wore a dress, or had a sex change, and my claim to our collective birthright to freedom would be just as valid. The people who don’t understand that freedom’s availability to all is the bargain we’ve struck in our society as a firewall against the evils of oppression deserve to live without it.
* I’m an experienced software developer who works in Perl, SQL, .NET and several other popular technologies. I am still comfortably employed, but I’m looking for a new job, preferably in Sterling Heights or very close by. If you have a need for a skilled programmer, see my resume here.