By Katelyn Lawson
A song that many of us sung as children, begins with “My county, ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty,” and ends with “Let freedom ring!”
Today, I still yell the last line hoping that the line will echo into the generations that are still growing. America has faced her problems from slavery, prohibition, women’s rights, and civil rights.
We have progressed since then, but today we are still facing the question what does freedom mean? The issues at hand in the General Assembly of Virginia are those of the LGBT community.
For instance, House Bill No. 663, if passed, would impose a fine on those who do not used the restroom facilities that align with the sex they were assigned at birth. House Bill No. 773, would allow the use of religious beliefs to deny services to those in the LGBT community. House Bill No. 431, could prohibit transgender people form changing the sex on their birth certificate.
What these bills appear to be doing, is taking us back instead of moving us forward. This is very similar to a situation that American’s faced in the 1950’s known as segregation due to racism.
While there is a difference in segregation then and now, the basis for LGBT segregation is the same as racial segregation. They are founded on the same beliefs: the use of scripture, the fear of what you do not understand, the “bad egg,” and the blindness to the real issues. In both situations, people use their religious beliefs to impose strict laws against those who ‘go against’ their beliefs.
What I refer to is ‘cherry-picking’. If you want to use your religious beliefs against a group of people, that is fine, but first, shouldn’t you look at yourself?
The fear during segregation was that black men are sex-crazed monsters who will attack white women if they get the chance. Today, it is seen as all members of the LGBT are pedophiles. Apparently it still stands that one egg ruins the dozen.
While there are real issues at hand, legislators and government officials are focusing on LGBT issues. Issues that I would like to be addressed are: better healthcare, decrease in tuition, and other things that affect me as a person – not where will I be allowed to buy a wedding cake, where would I be able to get married or, if I offend someone who has the same religious beliefs as me, what will happen to me?
One thing that strikes me as interesting is that Senate Bill No. 40 is being dubbed the “Kim Davis Bill,” allowing clerks and officials to deny the issue of marriage licenses. Many people do not know this, but Kim Davis has been divorced, more than once. My blood boils when there are people who say that “gay weddings and gay marriages ruin the sanctity of marriage”. Wait, so being divorced and going against your beliefs is okay, and getting your divorce is okay because it applies to you. You are okay with taking pieces and making them fit around your lifestyle, but use them against someone on of the LGBT community. The next time someone uses the phrase “same-sex marriage ruins the sanctity of marriage,” I hope they decide to look at themselves.
There is a hope to this. The Democratic response has been overwhelming. There have been two bills to protect the rights of the LGBT community.
There are questions I ask myself lately. When I wake up in the morning, I wonder – do I really have to go to class? Do I really have to get up? What am I going to wear today? These thoughts are the same as everyone else. There are also three questions I ask myself: Will I ever be able to get married? Where will I be able to buy a cake? Where will I be able to obtain a license?
These three questions are also questions everyone asks, except I do not have an answer. Everyone in the LGBT community does not have an answer at this time due to the proposed legislation.
My county is OUR country, ‘tis of thee. Now I say, let OUR freedom ring.
Lawson, a senior English major, is vice president of LGBTA