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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rising up

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday, I think we all reflected on the work of Dr. King and the changes our country has seen. Yet, not only are there still mountains to climb in race relations, but there are so many other areas of injustice that we've not only declined to address but some people still think are OK.

Sunday at work, a whole bunch of college girls came into work to shop for a baby shower. As I was talking to them I learned that they were Belmont soccer players and they were all on their way to Lisa Howe's baby shower.

And that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

(If you're not sure why I care about Lisa Howe and her baby shower, click on her name and look at what comes up when you Google her.)

Unfortunately, the warm and fuzzy feelings lasted for about 20 seconds, because then I realized that our country is still filled with evil, dangerous, bigoted people. And these people are not only not feeling warm and fuzzy about Coach Howe's baby shower, but they are also not feeling warm and fuzzy about the fact that she, along with other gay folks, feel like they should have rights.

Yes, in 2011, there are people who still feel like human beings should be denied basic rights based on who they are. Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he's running for president and one of the first things he'd do if elected is repeal the recent overturning of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. Rep. Casada and my newly elected state Representative, Mr. Gotto, have formed a group to fight the Metro anti-discrimination ordinance that was proposed after Coach Howe's firing. Rep. Casada even went as far as to say that it's not government's place to tell businesses with whom they must do business.

Do you know what that reminded me of?

Back in 1964, the United States Congress passed a law requiring workplaces and "facilities serving the general public" to stop discriminating against race. And I think today, 25 years and one day after the establishment of Martin Luther King Day, we'd all agree that was a pretty good idea. Or at least I'd hope we do. I know people sure were up in arms when Rand Paul said he didn't support that landmark piece of legislation.

Yesterday on Oprah, she did a restrospective of her shows on race over the last 25 years in honor of Dr. King's legacy. On one of those shows, she had the Little Rock Nine and some of the white folks who had gone to school with them. Those white students, now grown up, all renounced racism later on in life and were mortified by their actions. They cried and begged the black students to forgive them for their comments, actions and even their indifference. At the end of the show, they all hugged and talked about how far our country had come since those days so many years ago.

And our country, for the most part, has come a long way since those days. Or at least I used to think that it had until Obama ran for president and I realized how many racist people are still out there. To some extent, I think even people who are "OK" with people who are different than them are not really OK with people different than them being in charge. It's sad.

But, I can't help but wonder: Will there be a day when all of these people who denounce gays, treat them poorly, fire them from their jobs, etc., come together with them and apologize?

I know people hide behind religion and say that people choose to be gay. And to those people I ask, when did you choose to be straight? No one chooses whom to love. Trust me, I have had in-depth conversations with many gay people on this topic, and they don't choose. Just like we didn't choose to be straight. And regardless, God makes us all and He doesn't make junk.

How can anyone claim to be a Christian and fire a woman because she has a baby on the way? Because now she has no job and a baby on the way. She had no performance issues. She lost her job because of who she is. If she had been fired because of her skin or eye color, there'd be a lot more people pissed off about it. And, I'd like to think that even in Tennessee, a lawmaker wouldn't have the balls to stop a law aimed at discriminating against people for those reasons.

I've said a million times that all of my political opinions stem from one sentence: What Would Jesus Do?

Jesus dined with prostitutes and tax collectors. Jesus healed the blind and lame. Jesus loved everyone.

I just don't believe that Jesus wouldn't love someone because of whom they love. I can't believe Jesus would begrudge two wonderful people of being exceptional parents because of their genders.

Of course, I think Jesus would also be cool with a black president.

Yesterday, much like everyone else on Twitter, I tweeted a favorite quote by Dr. King. Mine was: "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

Yet when gays demand freedom, we say they are in our faces flaunting their sexuality. Yeah, because straight people never do that. When a guy has a picture of his wife and kids on his desk, why isn't that "flaunting his sexuality"? Because that's what people said about Lisa Howe. If she hadn't "flaunted her sexuality" she'd still have a job. Since when is telling people that you and your significant other are expecting "flaunting your sexuality"?

Really? I'm waiting.

Everyone in this country who is oppressed -- the poor, those without healthcare, immigrants, those who look different, GLBT people, the disabled -- everyone needs to rise up. And those of us who support them cannot be silent. I would rather step on toes now by standing up against injustice than to be the person 40 years from now who has to apologize for just standing there and letting it happen.

Jesus never did that. In fact, Jesus told us: "Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me." So, just like I proclaim the Lord's good works and profess my faith, I stand up for my brothers and sisters who have no voice.

After all, it's all about "What Would Jesus Do?"

[Sidebar: What a crappy little blogger I am. Oops. Anyhow, I think I am back in business. And, since 2011 is the year that I reinvent myself professionally and personally, there will be more stuff coming soon.

And by soon, I mean right after I de-Christmas my house and run the vacuum. But soon, I promise. Not just to you but to my roommate, as well.

One of the things that I'm going to be embarking on is actually making my novel into a novel. I have a start of it in my brain, and we'll see where it takes me. After talking to some professional colleagues today, you'll probably all see it first. Like I said, stay tuned. You are all about to witness greatness.

Or, at least, better-than-averageness.]

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