A Time for Tolerance

Zachary - Morganton, North Carolina
Entered on March 4, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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One Saturday morning I was reading the newspaper, looking for anything that looked interesting. As I read, I came across the Dear Abby section. “You could move,” read Dear Abby’s response in her weekly advice column. As I glanced back over the article, careful not to misinterpret anything, a state of confusion set in. The question that preceded that particular answer shocked me. The reader asked, “A gay couple has moved in across the street and I wanted to know what I could do to improve the quality of the neighborhood?”

Being only thirteen years old at the time, I knew exactly what “gay” meant, but I didn’t know why the guy had bothered to ask what seemed like such a brainless question. The answer, while funny, made me think of how I felt about the discrimination that resonated just from that one question. The discrimination is unjustified. I believe that society has no justification for discriminating against our homosexual “neighbors.”

Growing up, my mother always preached compassion and tolerance as two necessary virtues. She told me no matter how different someone seems or how much you disagree with them, you should always have a respect for his/her beliefs. Those views of compassion and love for your fellow man were also preached in the church that I attended. However, I found a blinding contradiction that could be found in most of the congregation. When our minister spoke of homosexuality, tension rose in the air. The people around me became disturbed by the sheer sound of this word. Some chose not to discuss it, yet some chose to blatantly attack it as if it was disgusting. That day I realized the blinding contradiction. It clearly states in the Bible, the book they had sitting on their laps and clutched to their chests, that homosexuality is wrong. Nevertheless, in that same book, it clearly says to “love thy neighbor.” It clearly says to “do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.” It also clearly says not to judge, for the ones who judge will be judged in the end. It was surprising to me that these people who claim to be loving and compassionate could harbor such feelings for their fellow man.

This past summer the California Supreme Court ruled that it was wrong for the state to deny marriage rights to homosexuals. After the ruling, I felt relieved that maybe discrimination of another minority group was slowly coming to an end. However, in this year’s seemingly groundbreaking election, voters in California voted to take away those marriage rights. How could this even happen? Later, as I was browsing through quotes for my U.S. History class I came upon an eye-opening quote. Thomas Jefferson once said, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.” What the voters in California did was oppress a minority. I don’t understand how the majority, who clearly is against it, would be able to vote against a minority group’s own pursuit of happiness.

As an eighteen year old, I know I do not possess the worldly knowledge of my elders. However, I do remember a principle that America was founded on and reiterated throughout history; all men are created equal. I cannot sit back and watch discrimination take place just as it did until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I cannot watch the plight of a minority become worse because of the so-called “good will” of the moral majority. I’m positively not going to discriminate against my “neighbors” who share two, simple common goals as I do: to live and love until my time on earth is over.