It is extremely frustrating to hear people who are voting in opposition to the equality of LGBTQ Americans simply brush it off as their "personal choice." What's even more infuriating is that our political system is continuing to allow that to happen, by permitting the rights of LGBTQ citizens to be decided upon by the majority of voters, most of whom will never be affected by LGBTQ equality.
LGBTQ people are denied a myriad of rights granted to their fellow heterosexual citizens. It doesn't stop at marriage equality (even in states where it has become legal, LGBTQ individuals are still denied over 1,100 federal marriage rights because of DOMA); it also includes things such as the right not to be fired, evicted, deported, harassed or forced to pay higher taxes simply for being LGBTQ.
When we have politicians and public figures openly and fiercely discriminating and legislating against LGBTQ people, it's no wonder many can reduce LGBTQ rights to simply another political issue we can openly debate and disagree on. However, we aren't deciding how we should spend public money or how we will work with foreign countries; instead, we are deciding whether or not our fellow citizens should have the same rights as everyone else. This is a clear civil rights issue and is no different from any civil rights movement of our past.
Today, most of us would surely be outraged if we were to take a vote on whether or not women should be able to work, or whether African Americans should be able to get married. We would be outraged if politicians spoke publicly about those minority groups the way they openly talk about LGBTQ citizens. Yet that's exactly what we are allowing to happen to the LGBTQ community, and somehow we've given ourselves permission to align with politicians who want to continue stripping away the rights of LGBTQ citizens and write it off as a simple difference of beliefs.
No one is taking away freedom of speech or religion, nor are they taking away anyone's choices or beliefs. The only people having their choices and freedoms infringed upon are LGBTQ people. We can see from our not-too-distant past that at one time it was certainly our right to choose whether or not we wanted rights for slaves, women, and African Americans. Most of us now find that completely obscure and morally wrong, but here we are again returning to the same situation.
At the end of the day, we must ask ourselves if putting the rights of a minority up to the vote of the majority is acceptable. If we must follow the system and partake in a political environment that is allowing that to happen, then the question becomes whether or not we vote for candidates who want to continue to oppress the LGBTQ community. We need to consider how we can use our voting power to ensure that we aren't suppressing our fellow citizens.
The rights of LGBTQ citizens shouldn't be our "choice," but sadly they are, and it's up to you to be on the right side of history and stand with your fellow Americans. LGBTQ equality is clearly something that should be a bipartisan issue, which it's not, and our equal rights should unify us, not divide us. How can anyone honestly believe that they should have the right to make a choice about whether or not fellow Americans are treated equally under the law?