Gay rights matter of cultural differences

Awkward Silence. Gay rights. The silence is what always seems to follow discussion on the issue. The issue of gay rights is a discussion that is not going away anytime soon, even in North Alabama.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the issue of gay rights. I have met many people and made many friends who are gay, lesbian or bisexual in my time at UNA. It still shocks me to hear someone openly declare that he or she is gay because that would have been a suicide note in my own hometown. I am amazed at the difference in acceptance in Florence compared to local places I have been to. I say “amazed” instead of “shocked” because I see this tolerance as extremely positive.

Regardless of sexual orientation-or moral system for that matter-nothing is positive about condemning others. Passing judgment or putting someone down in no way benefits society. The mutual acceptance of other human beings is how to truly make a positive difference in this world.

Acceptance of others’ differences is never an issue that will conflict with morality. Yes, there are issues in this world that are morally wrong. There is a standard of black and white. Rape, incest, murder and racism are just a few issues that are morally wrong throughout almost all humane cultures.

The fact of the matter is, though, in this imperfect world, there are many gray areas. It takes a mature mind to realize this. Immaturity is found in believing that sexual, racial or any other kind of prejudice gets this world any closer to reaching humanity’s common goals. A belief in prejudicial hate and intolerance is good for no system of morality.

In considering the issue of gay rights, I cannot help but think about situations of prejudice in the past we as a people have already overcome. Women and people of any race other than Caucasian used to be valued as less than the white male. If someone promoted this sentiment today, just imagine the amount of dissent that would meet that movement. Homophobia and the anti-gay rights movement harbor the same kind of discriminatory thinking and actions as racism and anti-feminism of the past.

Regardless of one’s own personal beliefs on the subject of gay rights, one has to admit that enmity among Earth’s people is never positive. Mature people will undoubtedly take the higher road on this issue by showing the mental understanding of cultural differences. After all the raging theological discussions end, a cultural difference is what the issue of gay rights is about rather than moral correctness.

Gay rights is not as complicated an issue as we make it out to be. Gay rights is simply an issue of just that-rights. Morality is not even involved in the matter, unless one is speaking of the immorality of the American government denying the rights of certain individuals in our society.

I hope the people of Florence continue and improve upon the tolerance that has begun to take root at UNA. For in a city of true social justice and understanding-no matter where one hails from-who cannot feel at home?