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It all seems so ...unnecessary

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Another city, another ordinance, law...whatever, it almost seems absurd.

Why is it we have to codify behavior that any normal, right thinking person would understand ought to be unthinkable. Everyone who lives in this country has rights. Born here? You have even more rights as a citizen. So why is it we have to spell out what should be obvious?

Is it that judges and courts have made it so necessary? Discrimination is a wilful act of some kind against another person, do we have to list everyone that might be the object of some form of discrimination? LBGT is the current focus, fifty years ago it was black people...and yes, Native Americans never seemed to get a fair shake at anything.

But what about people with one green eye and one blue eye. If no one spells it out is it okay to discriminate against them? How long will the list be if we have to put each and every category of person into some form of law? Absurd notion, but then there is probably a lawyer out there working on it...for a fee of course.

"We believe a just society is a society that creates an environment of fairness and tolerance for all its citizens, not just some of its citizens." Yes, isn't that the truth. So how did we end up having to pass laws to protect LBGT people in the first place?

Rather than pass protection laws I think we need to pass intolerance laws that spell out the illegality of any religious persecution of people for who they are, especially if they are not members of that religion. Let's also include bullies in schools because they deny other kids their lawful right to a decent education. Anyone who is intolerant needs to face prosecution for shameful behavior.

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I would like to point out that the need to pass laws like these is as old as history of laws themselves. Human nature is such that in any gathering of people you will have those who use deception, strength, force, or guile to have their way and control others. The use of laws to limit such tactics has been common for millenia, but never so frequent as it is today.

Look at the founding of this country - it took an armed revolution to implement the idea that the government cannot force you to quarter soldiers in your home, feeding them out of your own pocketbook (add a long list of all the items in the Declaration of Independence and more here). Looking at your suggestion there appears to be no real difference other than wording changes to appeal to your sensibilities. Whether worded your way or the way of the current and proposed laws, the goal is the same - to stop people from harming others.

Whether you say protection laws or intolerance laws, they serve essentially the same purpose and are just more semantic games.

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What we seem to have more of today than in the past is that groups of people thinks it fine to force their views on others to an unholy extent. The Islamic extremeists are doing it, and so would Rick Santorum if he could. Ministers who out gay kids in church feel that way. So do gang members who'll shoot up a party because someone in the partying group did something they didn't approve of. Police forces are beating on people and otherwise violating rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution. Armed forces in Pakistan are putting tribal views ahead of national ones, and killing people who don't see things as they do. Why we have more of this now than in the past, I have no idea. But it seems rife now in all elements of society, in societies around the world.


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I commend to you Steven Pinker's recent book The Better Angels of Our Nature in which he makes the case that we have, as societies, particularly in the West, become less violent since the rise of nation-states. Unfortunately, a statistical view of the prevalence of violence doesn't make each instance less a horror. Sometimes, our better angels require assistance and we must stop the nonsense where we are able, by word, by deed, or by both.

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History, present day and past, is full of people behaving very badly. We haven't outgrown it just because we have technology or other modern benefits. The human being is still capable of doing wrong against his/her own kind.

Our modern developed-world civilizations are not perfect, not immune from violence, prejudice, corruption, any number of things. Just look at the headlines and the nightly TV news.

Now, the will to fight, to defend, to survive, can be a good thing. It's the use of that aggression to hurt and deny others that we have to find a better way to deal with.

There is also the greatly overlooked, where people do a great deal to counter violence and alleviate human suffering, to make life better.

I don't really buy the argument that because I'm gay, I'm in some specially creative, blessed group, sorry. Uh, and my physical endowments are all too average. That argument that being gay or bi makes you more creative, smarter, more spiritual? What about all those creative, smart, spiritual straight folks? Or what about that fabulously uncoordinated and dull gay guy? Come on, we're just people. I'm not great at sports and athletics, but that's as much eyesight as any natural talents or inclinations.

Is there a need for laws to protect people based on certain groups they may fit into? (The original topic.)

Well, it seems to me as long as we keep seeing articles about yet another smiling, bright, boy next door who committed suicide or was bashed because he was gay (or because someone *said* he was) then maybe better laws are needed.

Likewise when other groups get treated unfairly.

Extremism in religion and politics (any brand of those, mind you, not only one) are rampant today. I really wish people would simmer the heck down and shut the heck up, if all they can do is spew distrust and hate towards the other guys.

My gay agenda? I want to pay all my bills. I want a decent job. I want to buy groceries and do other errands tomorrow. I want to be able to do home improvements I need around here, but can't afford. I want my tomatoes to actually grow tomatoes. I want to be treated as an equal person and citizen, instead of have someone assume I am something I'm not. I'd like new friends, family, a good roommate, and I'd really like to have someone who loves me and wants to share his life with me without being a jerk...and with nice benefits in the bedroom...or other parts of the house, maybe out in the yard, I'm no longer quite so picky. (Desperate? LOL.)

That joking bit -- Really, we can be angry and cranky and spout off, or we can be positive and try to do something. I'd love to know how to make a real, lasting, permanent difference. I would love to see the day, for instance, when I can legally, publicly, officially join in partnership with another man, if we find each other. I would really love to see the day when two boys, whether they are teens, adult men, or school kids, can show whatever sorts of affection for each other they feel, and without someone assuming they are wrong, bad, for doing so. In fact, it would be nicest if no one has to assume they are gay, bi, OR straight, but simply happy showing affection for each other. How hard could that be? Why is it our society is so afraid of that, generally? I don't know.

See, there I go being crabby and *itchy again instead of positive and helping bring about that world by changing, somehow, not only how others think, but how I think.

Sure, there are times I rail against the ugly parts of humanity. There are also times I'm just tickled somebody was nice for no apparent reason, and did something good and made someone feel better.

All the horrible, hurtful news? All the arguments of political and religious so-called "leaders," who seem more interested in jockeying for power and stepping on or eliminating anyone who doesn't think like them? Phooey. Beneath contempt.

Give me a random smile and hug instead.

Maybe a random kiss or, uh, offer of more, might not be the worst idea ever either.

Brownies or ice cream might not be so bad.

Didn't all these angry people ever have a mommy or grandma or even a daddy or grandpa, who took time with them to be nice, fed 'em a nice meal, and just hung out? Didn't all these angry people ever have a good friend to hang out with and talk, do all the ordinary, silly stuff friends do? Or somebody to, you know, have a nice romp in bed (or the hay or wherever, whatever suited 'em)? Or were they so busy being mad at everyone and everything, that they forgot all those wholesome and decent, or just plain nice, or downright fun and funny things?

Phooey indeed.

There/s got to be a better way.

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Said from the heart, Ben. Thanks for that.

As Cole points out, people are out to get other people. But, sadly, it's not a modern phenomenon, and we are still dealing with the fallout from the Crusades.

It's exhausting being gay. We all want peace and quiet to live our lives. It's no wonder many of us seek out the safe places, the cities we've identified where we can coexist, the enclaves where we are relatively safe. But I'd like to be safe, and respected, and included regardless of where I choose to live and work and engage in 'relationships'. Must we settle for a ghetto culture? If society cannot accept me, I want laws to protect me and mine. Harsh laws.

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Thanks to the fact that we're raising my niece and nephew, we now live in suburbian - and are enjoying the heck out of it. My husband is running for the HOA board, we're both members of the PTA, and I'm not only a Manager for a little league team, I'm also on the League's Board of Directors. It's fun and we're always busy.

For the most part our sexuality isn't an issue. We don't throw it in people's faces but we don't hide it either. Some of the parents are very conservative, others less so. Only one parent has even given a hint of a problem about the whole 'gay' thing and all he did was pull his kid from the team.

Unlike the boy scouts though, I don't have to hide anything or worry about being removed from my position because of my sexuality. THIS little league has sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy, making it abundantly clear that kicking someone out because they are gay, or straight for that matter, is not an option. Nor will the league reassign a player to another team because a parent has a problem with my sexuality. The parent can either let their kid play on the team he was assigned to, or they can pull their kid.

What they care about is if I can do the job I volunteered to do and whether I can be a good coach or if I'm not a good coach. Since I have kids from other teams begging to play on my team or get drafted to my team for next year, more kids committing to fall ball than ever before, I think I've done a good job. That's what matters to the league, and it's all that should matter. Yet, you better believe that if there wasn't a policy in place stating explicitly that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not allowed, there would be more problems from the more conservative elements. The policy tells all of us we have to get along.

It works for more than being gay, too. We have a kid on our team who is Mormon and some of the kids were ganking on that religion. I shut them down and told them that was wrong and could get them removed from the team. When the Mormon kid had to miss a game because of religious activities, he got the exact same response from me that the kids missing a game for a track meet got. "Make sure you have a good enough time that it's worth missing a day of baseball." While I might have that reaction naturally because I believe in equality and nondiscrimination as a guiding principle of my life, it's good knowing the League's policies protect this player as well as protecting me.

Proper nondiscrimination policies protect people when there is a history of discrimination based on characteristics of people. For legal purposes the term 'class' or 'group' is often used, but in the end it boils down to the individual discriminating and the individual being discriminated against. Religion, race, gender, age, physical ability, and sexual orientation are the most common characteristics used in discrimination. It's been this way for thousands of years, but hopefully, bit by bit it won't be this way forever. As a society based on laws, it is through our laws that we can make the biggest changes through the ages.

Look at interracial marriage as an example. Around sixty years ago, it was illegal in most places throughout the nation. One court decision forcing the states to change their laws changed that. Nowadays instead of 90% of the people saying it is wrong, you have a super-majority saying there's nothing wrong with interracial marriages. Interracial couples are becoming more common, now making up more than 10% of the population of married couples in total. This change didn't happen because people mounted a publicity campaign or because they went door to door asking people to change their minds. Nor did it change because they just went about living their lives.

Public opinion changed because the LAW was changed.

Some might see laws like the one that was the topic creator's post as being unnecessary, but they are more than necessary. They are vital to changing the public opinion and to making this nation a place where gay people can go live their lives without worrying about all this crap. It is through laws like this that enforce the notion that yes, it is okay to be gay.

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It may seem like a small thing but we're talking about the heartland which is usually quite conservative and religious.

Such a step is welcome and is progress.

Maybe if I live to be a thousand, I'll live to see such an ordinance in Jackson, MS.

According to various local clergy, such a step would lead to the collapse of humanity as a species.

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I have been thinking about this topic thread for another reason.

My local polling location happens to be an elementary school. They clear out one of the assembly areas (cafeteria / auditorium) (the kids get to eat outside or elsewhere, I guess.)

In my previous district, the local polling location was a large church.

In the district where I grew up, it was my old elementary school, and they had the voting booths set up in the main entrance hallway.

In both cases with the schools, throughout election day, the teachers march the kids by, single file, and the kids see voting, the democratic process, in action, with all those adults from all those walks of life (and their own parents and neighbors) waiting to vote, signing in, stepping to a voting booth and voting, and leaving. The kids then get lessons in class, especially history and social studies, about what it means. -- I'm sure it works that way all across the country, so that's not news.

At my present location, several of the volunteers are teachers or admins at that school, I can tell. Others are civic-minded people from the community, or politically active. That's great, no problems there.

What I've been thinking about is this: Because of my eyesight, I sometimes (not always anymore) carry around special "telescopic glasses." If you've seen jewelers or surgeons on film, you've seen similar glasses. I use them for distance, distances most people would not consider "distant." Back in school and college, I used them for the blackboard and overhead. Oh, and the whiteboard, when those came in. (By the way, I think chalk on blackboards are easier to see, not harder.) These glasses are bulky. You don't wear them just walking around, or I don't, anyway.

So you put them in a box in a carrying bag, so they don't get damaged. The bag is a typical sort of small camera or carrying bag. Ho-hum, big deal, right? Wrong. In school, people knew me, and the bag was never any big deal. I never once got comments or bullying about the bag or the glasses. The most I got was the phrase, "scope it out," and often as not, I'd get curious questions from classmates and friends. Cool, that's how it *should* be.

Not so in college and out in the adult world. I get looks. Looks that say, "that boy" (later) "that man" -- "is carrying a *bag.*" -- You'd really think a camera bag or other equipment carrying bag would be no big deal at all, especially these days, with cell phones and tablets. Nope, sorry, not so.

In college once, because my hair was a bit longer (and my hair is wavy) and my clothes that day were vaguely off-color from the local hard water (they had started grey and had drifted toward purple for no reason) -- that and the bag were more than enough to have one guy hiss, "faggot," under his breath and get up and move away, when I sat down at a college cafeteria table. I hadn't expected it at all. Sure, the color was a little odd, and I had the bag and my hair was a little long. My hair wasn't any longer than any other guy on campus, though. ...The guy who walked away, clearly it was a huge problem for him. Issues. I'd never seen him before, so what the heck? :: shrugs ::

But what got me thinking, and prompted this reply, is what has happened at three recent elections in the past few years. (Not, by the way, the most recent one.) At three of those, I came up and waited in line with all the other voters, with my bag and glasses, in case I needed them. In an adjoining line, I had "the look." The look of, "What is that, there's a man with a bag (a purse?) in that line near me!" The look makes it plain the person thinks I am a threat to baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, the good old American way of life, Mom, and God, and...family values. Especially the guy's own masculinity, and that he thinks I'm one of those terrible people (those homosexuals) who he probably thinks are out to get his grandkids. And yes, all that is very evident from The Look. It's been, I think, a different random older man each time. Each time, I have tried to ignore them or look their way and stare and frown slightly, then look away. I don't want to cause a scene and be turned away from voting. (Actually, unless arrested for disturbing the peace or being violent, I'm not sure they could tell me to leave.)

But of course, there'll be another election day in November, and yes, as usual, I'll show up, bag and all, to exercise my rights as a free American citizen and registered voter.

I think, this time, I'll frown a little harder, stare a little more pointedly, and possibly say out loud, I'm a registered voter and free citizen too, and not bother to enlighten him whether I'm gay or what's in the bag or why I'd carry one.

Yes, you are not supposed to film or audio record voting without permission, to protect voter privacy. But no, The Look is always about, "That man is carrying a bag, a purse, he must be gay, he's a threat to me and my kids and grandkids."

I haven't liked that look any time I've seen it. Not in college, not out in everyday adult life, work or off-work, and not when I'm with (presumably) fellow Americans and about to exercise my Constitutionally granted right to vote as a free citizen, born and raised. Yes, I carry that bag with those glasses. Yes, I'm gay. All those other things you're so worried about, mister, are not going to happen, not by me. So I really wish you'd stop and think that you've just insulted a fellow citizen with that look. You have just made it plain that to you, I am a second class citizen, and you think I'm not worthy to be there, voting and representing the good ol' USA. Guess what, sir? I'm every bit as American, and I have every right to vote, to carry a camera bag with weird-looking glasses, and to be a gay man.

It's strange to me that classmates in junior high and high school never gave me that look, but in college and in adult life, I do get that look sometimes. I'm not substantially any different, just a little older.

School life wasn't perfect, but the kids were not bad about everything. About many things, I was just another kid in class.

Strange that in adult life, people are less tolerant, less neighborly and willing to accept what's different.

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