The great majority of us know absolutely nothing about what will be discussed at a special public hearing in Chattanooga on Tuesday, yet virtually every one of us understands hatred, prejudice and the difference between right and wrong. The subject is homosexuality and the question is whether or not the city of Chattanooga should give same-sex couples the same benefits that heterosexual couples receive.
I believe it is impossible for a heterosexual person to know what a homosexual must endure on this earth. I also believe that any and all human beings are capable of falling in love. And, while I define marriage as a religious vow between a man and a woman, I firmly believe a gay couple in a committed relationship should get the same benefits as a straight couple. That’s the only fair thing to do.
The problem, of course, is that the argument has nothing to do with what is fair. You see, the critics won’t argue about work-place benefits. This is all about homosexuality and because over 90 percent of us are straight – and don’t understand homosexuality at all -- our fears and prejudices and ignorance get a very simple question all muddled up and out of balance.
For the record, I am a gay-friendly guy. I am strictly heterosexual, mind you, and would no more mess around with another male than a lesbian would be attracted to me. But I believe every human being is an inherently good person, until a few prove otherwise, and that the God I worship loves each one of us the same regardless of race, sex or any other reason you can name.
I believe a gay person is born that way. Again, I know zero about it but from those who I have had rather candid conversations down through the years, I think homosexuality is more about a gay person discovering who they really are rather than making a choice to be gay. That’s why I think those special “clinics” where purportedly they turn a gay person into a straight should be outlawed.
I know some gay people who are devout Christians and who, in their daily walk, are far greater examples of Christ than the egotistical Bible-slappers who will try to get in a TV clip by spewing their hate before the City Council. And we all got a dose of “a different religion” from the Ridgedale Church of Christ when its officials banned a family that had nothing to do with the fact their daughter is gay.
The daughter, a much respected detective, caused Collegedale to become the first Tennessee city to offer same-sex benefits and Knoxville just did the same things. Other cities across the state and the nation are moving towards treating all employees equally but there are some real issues, too.
If you approve same-sex benefits where no marriage is involved, what do you do about the man and woman who are not married but who live together? What is the difference if they love each other like a same-sex couple? Who determines a “committed relationship” versus “just an arrangement” where a friend gets health insurance? And, since without a marriage there can be no divorce, how will the city of Chattanooga know a same-sex couple has split up?
I think homosexuals have offended a good number of straight people by their constant demands for acceptance, their blatant public displays for attention and their aggressive methods to overrule the majority but I also believe they should be treated and respected the same as anyone else in this country. Should we have gays in the military? Of course. If a gay person sexually assaults someone or misbehaves, they should be arrested and tried just like we do when a straight person does the wrong thing. Let’s tear down these walls.
What I am trying to say is that the laws of our country and the rules of our society should be the same for everybody. When it comes to the question of homosexuality being right or wrong, I think that is a matter between God and anyone who is gay. I think God created each of us and, therefore, if God created someone who is gay, that is God’s business. He created me straight and that is our business.
Following Tuesday’s public hearing, the City Council is expected to vote on the benefits question later this month. Remember: the vote will not be about homosexuality, sin, hatred at the Ridgedale Church of Christ or the fact the City Council has a gay member. It is only about benefits and fairness.