Letters to the Editor: March 4, 2015

Legalizing discrimination

In October, marriage became legal for same-gender couples in Oklahoma. Since then, thousands of couples exercised their right to marry, celebrating with families and friends as Americans traditionally do.

Recently, the Oklahoma Legislature kicked off its 2015 session with numerous bills that would treat people differently based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Some bills are more repressive than others, but each one seeks to limit the freedom of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals to enjoy the same rights as the heterosexual majority.

Same-gender marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for over 10 years. Our nation has had a decade to notice that the sky didn’t fall. In fact, polls show an increase in support of marriage equality as we have come to learn that the people we interact with every day are gay and decided, “So what?”

The fears were unrealized.

Change can be unsettling, but a rush to write prejudice and discrimination into our laws out of fear is destructive and divisive. Diversity isn’t a threat. In fact, it’s enriching for any environment — a workplace, congregation, family, society — and each is the better for it. Ours is a society that recognizes that our personal beliefs should not determine the rights of our neighbor.

Sexual orientation or gender identity isn’t something an individual chooses or practices. It’s who they are, and each person is some family’s loved one, deserving of equal access to services and equal treatment under the law. No one deserves to have their relationship devalued in a misguided attempt to exalt another’s or to be treated as “less than” in any way by employers, businesses or government agencies.

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Norman is an organization formed to support and advocate for LGBT individuals and their families. We have the diversity of experiences, beliefs, identities and opinions that any group would have plus an intense concern for equality. We are asking our fellow Oklahomans to resist fear, stand for mutual respect and insist that legislation designed to diminish the rights and hurt the spirit of a vulnerable minority be rejected.

Please contact your state legislators to share your concern about bills that would treat LGBT citizens differently. Each one of us has a voice. The price of silence is too high. — Steve Davis, PFLAG Norman president Norman

Change, please

Oklahoma has many issues facing it today: budget shortfalls due to a drop in energy prices, a continuing public education black eye, water woes due to drought and increasing population, the Department of Human Services, painkillers, prisons, etc. All of these issues need the full attention of our elected representatives.

With these serious issues at hand, it is a real shame that Rep. Sally Kern instead uses her bully pulpit in the house to further her personal agenda against those who are different from her.

Ms. Kern, we have real problems in this state.

Please refocus your time and energy on the above issues instead of your own homophobia. House Bill 1598 does nothing to make Oklahoma a better state; it is simply hateful and unchristian. — Blake Gibb Oklahoma City

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