Daniel Suddeath

Daniel Suddeath

It's hard to fathom why some people have such a problem with providing basic rights to their fellow humans.

If you don't agree with someone's lifestyle, that's certainly your choice, but how can you excuse denying them equal treatment when it comes to housing, employment and protection under the laws of our land?

On Tuesday, the Bowling Green City Commission proved why discrimination is still very much a problem in our country. By a 3-2 vote, the commission decided that a fairness ordinance prohibiting housing and employment discrimination against residents based on their sexual orientation wasn't worthy of passage. Bowling Green remains the largest city in Kentucky without such protections for its residents.

In basically a cowardly concession of predetermined ideology, the trio who voted against the fairness ordinance including Mayor Bruce Wilkerson didn't even bother to comment during the public meeting as to why they were opposed to ensuring people aren't discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. Of course, we know this is about gay and transgender residents, as instances of discrimination against heterosexuals based on their sexual orientation are about as common as Eskimo sightings in Arizona.

Bowling Green is growing, Western Kentucky University is drawing students from places well outside of the Commonwealth, but the city's mayor apparently has a problem with commonsense legislation that would offer protection to some of those new and existing residents.

Let's be clear — this isn't about forcing religious people to accept practices they believe are wrong. There's even a clause included in the Bowling Green ordinance prohibiting the proposed law from burdening freedom of religion.

Too many people who should know better are allowing their religious beliefs to be weaponized by politicians and folks acting out of prejudice. It's almost become the calling card of politicians in Kentucky and other traditionally conservative places.

Abortion, gay rights and subsidies for the poor — many politicians have used these issues to attempt to demonize people and rally up religious support for their reelection bids. It's almost a way of covering up for their own inabilities to govern our state in a wise and efficient manner.

There are certainly passages in the Bible that state homosexuality is a sin. There are plenty more that label adultery a sin. It seems many only want to focus on homosexuality, or at least they don't go to the extremes to condemn adultery between men and women at the same level or with the same passion as they protest gay rights.

In Kentucky we have a problem with gay people being protected from discrimination but we have no issue voting into the White House a man who has been proven to have had multiple affairs. That's not consistent with biblical teachings.

But this isn't Sunday School, and that's the point. Our country is supposed to protect religious freedom, and that includes freedom from religion. If you believe homosexuality is wrong, you have every right to do so. The same goes for those who believe adultery, consuming alcohol and playing the lottery are sins — they have the freedom to stand against those practices and to attend a church that supports such beliefs.

The line is crossed though when we attempt to use our religion to ban people who are breaking no laws from having the same rights that we enjoy.

If you can't deal with people of other beliefs, or those who follow no religion, then there are plenty of countries in the world where you can live where non-secularism is followed. Of course many of those countries don't view Christianity or other popular religions in the U.S. as highly as we do, so you might find yourself under extremely oppressive rule. Maybe being the minority for a change would actually be eye-opening for some.

The Bowling Green vote is also important because of the example it sets. Smaller cities like Glasgow look to anchor cities like Bowling Green as examples. Glasgow should pass a fairness ordinance as well, but if the Bowling Green commission doesn't have the backbone to do what's right, how can we expect leaders in a smaller community to take the initiative and approve anti-discrimination legislation?

Bottom line, a person shouldn't be fired from their job because of who they love, nor should anyone not have a roof over their head because of who they're lying down with in their bedroom. Frankly, it's none of our business.

Hopefully the Bowling Green commission will reconsider its initial vote and take a stand for fairness. We're not all identical by any stretch of the imagination, but we all deserve equal treatment under the law. It's the American way.

Suddeath is the editor of the Glasgow Daily Times. His column appears in the Thursday edition and at various times throughout the week. Reach him at 270-678-5171, or by email at dsuddeath@glasgowdailytimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @DsuddeathGDT.