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You Choose


A recent ruling by a judge allows for bar owners (among others, I'd guess) to remove Trump supporters from their establishment because there is not, apparently, protection under the law for political discrimination. Whatever side of the political aisle you fall on, that surely has to be a somewhat eye-opening factoid. More so than the ruling, itself, I've been intrigued by the online chatter about why certain folks have been okay with the decision.

Discussions I have read seem to center themselves around why it is okay to allow political exclusion, but not okay to ban someone from someplace because of their ethnicity, or sexuality. The latter two factors are, many argue, not a choice, while someone's politics are most certainly chosen. The aspect of choice, it would seem, is what dictates punishment or praise. It is also, I would argue, not a great way of determining what we accept, or don't accept, about people.

I am a gay man. This doesn't comes as a shock to anyone who knows me, or who has read this blog on a regular basis the past seven years. I've no idea how much of my sexuality was by nature or nurture. Some will argue one way or the other about homosexuality, though it would seem difficult to exactly know for sure. Personally, I feel as though I was probably born with a definite predisposition toward being gay that my straight friends were not, but whether or not external forces influenced that inclination further is difficult to say. Regardless, let's just roll with I was likely born this way.

Does being born gay really matter? Does choosing something always make them better or worse? I ask this because -- whether we mean to or not -- we often tend to imply a pitiable state of being upon those whose differences we assign as involuntary. Perhaps the most cringe-worthy example has been when I've watched talking heads discussing how similar (or not) the gay rights struggle has been to the civil rights struggle of old. At one point, on national TV, I watched a middle-aged black man shake his head and say that there was no similarity, as LGBT people choose their lifestyle, whereas African-Americans (and those of any color) do not choose their race.

Setting aside for a moment the debate about whether LGBT people choose what they think and how they feel, the notion of race as an excuse is a troubling one. We only tend to excuse something if there is an inherent problem with it. It's almost to say, 'Please don't discriminate against black people. They can't help that they're black.' See how ridiculous that sounds? Yet, to disavow or allow discrimination based upon a choice (an 'Oh, they can't help it' defense) is risible in its frustration. The issue of choice shouldn't matter.

No, we can't choose our race, but then that shouldn't even be a factor when it comes to prejudice. Nor should it matter whether or not someone chooses to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or anything else of that nature. I think we get too wound-up in using that as a crutch, when the real issue of consequence is treating people with equity because it's simply the right thing to do.

Yes, people choose to support Trump, or Clinton, or any myriad of politicians. That is apparently grounds for being kicked-out of an establishment, and I suppose people can (and will) argue the merits of political affiliation when it comes to discrimination. Just don't bring my race and sexual orientation into the debate. That's insulting.



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