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Kel Kelly Headshot

Equal Rights Shouldn't Have an Asterisk

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Right or wrong, I have become acutely aware that all of a sudden, I take it as a personal affront that my friends would vote for any candidate who does not support gay rights. As a gay woman, I have always respected the diversity of people's opinions and believe that that's what makes this country great. However, I think it is unacceptable and against our constitution to have anything short of equal rights for all human beings. While I have always felt this way, up until now I tolerated and respected friends' vocal support of the GOP and their anti-gay-rights agenda. I'm not sure what changed, but that tolerance is gone.

If a presidential candidate vocally and repeatedly declared that he or she was going to fight against equal rights for Catholics, Jews, Mormons, African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Irish, Italians, the physically handicapped, the intellectually handicapped, men, women, heterosexuals, senior citizens and/or some other category of people, my friends who fell into any of those categories would never vote for that candidate. Moreover, they would be outraged beyond words.

So why is it OK for a friend to vote for a candidate who doesn't believe gays are as important as every other human being? Is it because if my friends are not gay, then it doesn't affect them? Think about it for a moment. If I vocally supported a candidate who vowed to fight against equal rights for Catholics, my Catholic friends would go ballistic. Why is that any different when I hear my friends are supporting a candidate who has vowed to fight gay rights? Do I not have the right to be as equally outraged?

I think many of my friends rationalize it by telling themselves that it's not that they have an issue with gay rights; it's that they have an issue with gay marriage. That is as ridiculous as any of the following statements:
  • "It's OK for African Americans to vote; we just don't want them using our toilets."
  • "It's OK for Catholics to practice their religion; we just don't want them to have the right to run a daycare."
  • "It's OK for Latinos to bear arms; we just don't want their kids in school with our kids."
  • "It's OK for Jewish people to have a right to a speedy trial; we just don't want them to sit in the same section with us at a ball game."
  • "It's OK for women to be in the workforce; we just don't think they should be paid as much as men."
  • "It's OK for Mormons to be innocent until proven guilty; we just don't want them to be able to run for public office."
  • "It's OK for heterosexuals to have personal property; we just don't want them to have children."

This isn't about gay rights. It's about human rights. And equal rights should not have an asterisk that carves out some exclusion. Any kind of discrimination is unacceptable. A vote for a candidate who doesn't support gay rights is a vote for discrimination, no matter how you rationalize it in your head.

We as a country will win as a team or lose as a team. We won't get there through excluding groups of people. Karma doesn't allow that to happen.

Recently I posted a message on my Facebook timeline that netted out my feelings, and for the first time I invited people I love to defriend me. And I'm OK with that. Equal rights matter more than trying to save a friendship.