Let’s Talk

For the second week this month, the Grand Rapids Press posted an editorial on LGBT issues. The last one declared it was a disgrace that Michigan hadn’t yet made LGBT a protected class, and yesterday’s appealed for calm and a conversation.

Here’s the backstory. After an owner of an auto shop brazenly (and sinfully) said he would not fix the cars of homosexuals, some responded with graffiti, vandalism, and death threats. The Press is now calling for “a frank and productive conversation” between Christians and homosexuals, as long as Christians realize they are wrong and LGBT people try to be patient.

Really? These are the ground rules? I can’t imagine why this conversation hasn’t happened already. Don’t try this at home. “Honey, we need to have a frank and respectful conversation. You’re wrong, and I will try to be patient. OK, you start.”

If I were part of the conversation, I would want to discuss the line, “most do not begrudge others their faith, and just want to live their lives, too.” It’s true that most do not begrudge others their faith, but many do. And with government support, they are destroying freedom for all Americans. I’d also ask why the editorial does not distinguish between human beings and human doings, but lumps all religious people with the auto shop owner. But since my view is declared wrong from the outset, I probably won’t be joining this conversation.

Here’s the editorial, emphasis mine.

LET’S HAVE A TALK ABOUT LGBT ACCEPTANCE

Grand Rapids Press Editorial Board
West Michigan, we need to talk. As the dust settles following a Grandville auto shop owner’s anti-gay Facebook post, it behooves us to look around at one another. Then, we need to have a conversation about diversity in our community.

We mean diversity in many senses. West Michigan is a region with religious and racial diversity. It is a place where many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people live and work. We come in all shapes and sizes. Our journeys are all different.

Emotions are running high, and not simply because of Dieseltec owner Brian Klawiter’s post saying he would deny service to openly gay customers. The Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday over same-sex marriage bans in Michigan and other states. Religious freedom legislation in Indiana, and a similar bill in Michigan, stoked tempers.

In all likelihood, same-sex marriage will be legal nationwide. If Michigan heeds the call of many citizens to add LGBT nondiscrimination protections to state law, more debate will ensue.

The Facebook post was unequivocally wrong. Klawiter has a right to free speech, but the sentiment is just as bad as saying your shop will not serve Christians.

It’s equally wrong to send death threats and attempts to vandalize his business.

This is not the conversation our region needs to be having.

We have a storied religious history and a sizable LGBT community, and we need to determine how to move forward. It starts with respecting one another’s differences.

Those in our community who spurn homosexuality must understand they are alienating more than just the LGBT community. It is simply wrong to reject our neighbors for who they are. Many in the LGBT community are religious; most do not begrudge others their faith, and just want to live their lives, too. They cannot change who they are, nor should they.

In turn, the LGBT community must be patient. The long road to acceptance and equality will not end if the Supreme Court allows same-sex marriage nationwide. It may take years before it is a societal nonissue that you are who you are and love who you love. That day can’t come soon enough.

But to get there faster, our community needs to have a frank and productive conversation. We urge religious and LGBT leaders to join with one another to talk, and to heal, together.

One Comment

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  1. I have been disappointed with the direction the GR Press has been taking lately. I haven’t found any counterpoint opinion printed on gay rights either. I was surprised to find not one story on Nepal in Sunday’s frontpage. Instead it was on police equipment. Nepal was in Section B.

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