Why We Should Care About LGBT Rights

  • If we do not, ruthless governments will arbitrarily imprison homosexuals.  A new Nigerian law prohibits same-sex marriages and vastly restricts the rights of gay and lesbian citizens to socialize.  Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed into law earlier this month a measure that says anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage, civil union or domestic partnership could face up to 14 years in prison. The announcement and details of the laws drew a harsh rebuke from Secretary of State John Kerry.  “Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians.”  I can appreciate the argument that the U.S. should mind its own business when it comes to how other governments make policy decisions, but it can just as persuasively be alleged that isolationism in its strictest form led to World War II.  When it comes to human rights and protections, we cannot afford to ignore the cruel treatment of people.    
  • America thrives when everyone is treated equally.  A federal judge struck down Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage, who declared it a fundamental violation of equal rights.  U.S. Senior District Judge Terence Kern ruled in Tulsa that a state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples conflicted with the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the 14th Amendment.  The judge stated, “Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed.  It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions.”  It is my greatest hope that the path is being cleared to pave the way for full and equal citizenship for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
  • It should not be a sport to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. With just a few weeks before the Olympic flame reaches Sochi, Russia, signaling the beginning of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, all eyes are on homosexual rights for all the wrong reasons.  A relatively new anti-gay-propaganda law prohibits promoting “nontraditional sexual relations” around minors. The State Department issued a travel alert to anyone heading to Russia for the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, warning that LGBT Americans in particular should be mindful of the country’s laws banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.”  The alert provides, “Russian citizens found guilty of violating the law could face a fine of up to $3,100.  Foreign citizens face similar fines, up to 14 days in jail, and deportation.”  We should never yield to or appease unjust governments. 

What can we do?  Do not throw your hands up because fixing the problem is too monumental.  Historically, people are stripped of their rights when they and others did not defend individual liberties.  Think about it this way:  maybe you don’t have to be FOR gay marriage but you can be AGAINST discrimination.