I like to think I’m a tolerant person.
When you are in the line of work I am in, you really don’t have a choice.
Inevitably, I encounter people whose ideas I find flawed or perhaps even ugly. Sometimes, and I’m sure you can relate to this, I run into people that have plain old disagreeable personalities.
But at the end of the day, I do my best to treat everyone the same, whether it is on an interpersonal level or writing about them in a story. It’s a matter of professionalism, as well as a personal approach with which I am comfortable.
Being exposed to so many personalities and ideas on a daily basis, there is constant reinforcement that very little in this world is black and white — as much as people would sometimes like that to be the case. These interactions during my nine years in journalism have helped me grow as a person and better understand how the world works.
But it’s a lifelong class. The learning never stops.
That is a long introduction to the issue I wish to address, which is the matter of gay rights.
I was raised a Catholic in a small rural Nebraska community, and still live in a small city in South Dakota, but I don’t ever recall subscribing to the idea that there is anything wrong, moral or otherwise, with being homosexual. It never made any sense to me, even though I live(d) in a place where it is (was) popular to believe that is the case. I would like to think I am part of a majority in my community, as I have no statistics at hand to tell me one way or another, but I wouldn’t put money on that horse. At best, I would expect there is a majority of people in this area who would say they are OK with someone being gay “as long as they don’t rub it in my face,” which essentially means, “people can be gay as long as they stay in the closet.”
Do any of you disagree with that characterization of the local populace?
My hope is that with time, these attitudes will continue to evolve. I still encounter way too much overtly anti-gay sentiment (and that does include the old “hate the sin and not the sinner” line, as there is no sin in two consenting adults expressing love for one another), but it has come a long way in just the last couple decades.
Believe it or not, all of this is a lead-up to some real laughs.
As you may have heard, Lincoln, Neb., is considering an ordinance that would protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Sadly, this is a controversial issue.
The Lincoln City Council recently took more than six hours of testimony from more than 70 people on the proposed ordinance.
The Omaha World-Herald summed up the arguments:
Proponents of the ordinance described it as a matter of fairness, of gays and lesbians being able to live openly and to acknowledge their loved ones without fear of losing their jobs.
“You have an opportunity before you to not just make Lincoln more welcoming for gay and transgender people, but also to improve our economy and business culture,” said Tyler Richard, president of Outlinc, the organization that spearheaded Lincoln’s ordinance.
“People should be judged at work by their performance, not their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he said.
But opponents said the ordinance would impinge upon their religious freedoms by requiring them to accept behavior they consider immoral.
“Our faith is something that’s been the moral code for four thousand years,” said the Rev. Chris Kubat, director of Catholic Social Services.
“Now” — he snapped his fingers — “you’re going to force us to do something that’s against our faith. Last year we assisted more than 28,000 people. Most weren’t Catholics. If people are hungry or naked or thirsty, I’m going to help them. I don’t care who they are or if they’re gay, but don’t force me to cooperate with behaviors against our faith.”
Kubat said the church’s opposition to the proposal would be “mitigated” by an amendment that creates an exemption for religious organizations, but he said the church would prefer to see a conscience clause exempting individuals based upon their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Some video footage from this hearing has gone viral.
In particular, provocative, if non-sensical testimony from a woman who is known to Lincoln residents for her regular flyers has been making many major sites.
If you read the entire World-Herald story above, you’ll notice that she is not quoted. Honestly, I wouldn’t have quoted her in a story I wrote either, because her testimony is so fanciful. I would guess that some sort of mental illness plays a role in her behavior and beliefs.
Jon Bershad at Mediaite had an apt description:
You know what’s not funny? Hate. You know what’s also not funny? People going on hate-filled rants. However, you know what is funny, people going on hate-filled rants that make so little sense that they sound like someone took the worst comments from a political message board, mixed all the words around, translated them to Japanese, and then translated them back. And that’s what happened at a council meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska and it resulted in one of the craziest videos you’ll see this week.
What exactly are we talking about? Here is the video (and take note of the reactions of the guy sitting behind her):
Now, did you also notice the older lady sitting in the background who kindly sat through that testimony? She testified, too. Quite honestly, I prefer her speech.