Our country was founded on religious freedom giving each of us the basic right to choose to be a Roman Catholic, an Orthodox Jew, a Muslim, a Presbyterian, an Episcopalian, a Southern Baptist, a Methodist, and equally protected-the right to choose to not believe at all. With that right comes the requirement of separation of church and state. Without that separation between religious beliefs and our government, Jews can’t be allowed to worship freely, nor Catholics, nor Southern Baptists, nor agnostics and atheists to not attend church at all.
It is not the right of believers to force their personal religious views on the masses in this country, but we see it time and time again in our society. Through our country’s history, we have had to fight for the civil rights of segments of our society…women, immigrants, African Americans. Now we find ourselves embroiled in whether we should allow another group of our citizens to hold full citizenship in our communities and nation. Those who would deny the civil rights of the LGBT community do so based on their religious beliefs.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council would count me as one of those parents who didn’t teach her child the right and wrong ways of living in our world because she is gay. I taught her to be tolerant. I taught her to respect others. I taught her to stand up for herself and for those who couldn’t stand up for themselves. I taught her to be compassionate and loving and honest.
As a parent, do I wish she were not gay? Yes. Not because I find her to be breaking the laws of mankind, but because I know her life would be easier as a straight person. She wouldn’t have to face being called a fag, a queer, a dike. She wouldn’t have to face the constant hate by believers who say her way of life is a choice, not whom their God made her to be.
I will never forget the call from college when she said she had to come home to talk to me. When she got here, she told me she was gay. She was afraid I wouldn’t love her anymore. Can you imagine in your life having first having to come to grips with who you are and then having to face, not only the world, but being afraid that your mother and your family wouldn’t love you anymore? Can you imagine believing that the love you had been given all your life would be withheld simply because of who are you? In our case, that didn’t happen, but in many families across this nation, it happens every day because of bigotry, because of religious beliefs.
I believe the Bible says that Jesus fed the masses, that he wanted us to help the downtrodden, that it was not ours to judge others. I wish that his believers followed those tenants. I wish there weren’t people like Governor Bob McDonnell, Del. Bob Marshall, Tony Perkins and Pat Robertson who promote discrimination and bigotry against segments of our society. I wish there were more people like President Barack Obama.