Right to Rights

October 4th, 2012

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 What is it about that we can’t seem to understand?

As published in The Daily News, October 5, 2012, and in The Memphis News, October 6-12, 2012

Equal Logo


I know a guy who’s into shoes.

And into colors, theatre, and rearranging furniture. He majored in art, and can spend hours hanging one piece in the only two square feet of wall space he has left  – robin’s egg blue and Chinese red walls I might add. He wrote and directed musical satire in college. Johnny Mathis is allover his iPhone, iPad and iPod along with Judy Collins singing “Danny Boy” and way too many original Broadway casts singing their show-stoppers, all of which he incessantly hums. He makes tomato aspic. He wears a lot of purple and pink, liberally sprinkles words like fabulous and spectacular in general conversation, has a couple of precious matching dogs, and has the legs for cross dressing. He’s a lifelong Memphian, but he doesn’t hunt or fish.

Gay, right? Please.

I know a guy who’s into football.

College and pro, not to mention college hoops, the front row seats he had when the Griz hit town and the box he had when AutoZone Park opened. He gets more score alerts on his phone than Bob Costas. He’s played just about everything, still plays golf for beer, stays up all night for poker, drinks old school scotch rocks, and still stays in touch with frat brothers from 40 years ago. He’s an Eagle Scout, former scoutmaster, coach and pool shark, and can scratch and belch with the best of them at inappropriate times while telling inappropriate stories. Hard rock, hot blues, Motown, Stax, the Stones and the Dead, Willie and Waylon wail from his speakers, and he still likes the way his wife moves. Many of his friends aren’t just right of center, they’re right about everything. While he will eat ten Krystal cheese and something he just dropped on the floor, he won’t eat quiche.

Straight, right? Please.

I know these guys, because I’m both of them, and all of that is true – except for the legs part.

When we allow ourselves to be defined by stereotypes, or to measure, judge and exclude others because of stereotypical thinking, we become the most common of denominators – unable to rise any higher or sink any lower.

I don’t believe gay is a choice – any more than ethnicity, or age, or heterosexuality is – but even if it were a choice, it should be afforded the same protection against persecution because of that choice.

Like, say, the choice of religion. Like, say, the freedom to believe whatever I like, and the freedom of not being forced to believe what you do.

In other words, while I object to the sanctimonious, self-righteous and judgmental diatribes of oh-so-very-certain church folks and others who would deny the LBGTQ community their basic civil rights, I do recognize their right to disagree, and my religion asks that I ask their forgiveness for my unkind words.

So forgive me, and let’s quit stalling and get on with what’s right.

I’m a Memphian, and for this city to work, we all have to work together.


guy miller: Just like you I also have several gay friends and I'm against anyone discriminating against them. But I'm against the new City of Memphis law because it TENDS to extend special rights to certain types of people. It is the same reason I'm against HATE Crimes. A crime is a crime... discrimination is discrimination. Let's aggressively go after anyone who commits a crime or commits discrimination but let's not set up certain individuals for SPECIAL considerations. We ALL should be protected equally under the laws of our nation.

Bill Butler: You are so right on the center of this, that there is no room for further discussion or thought. Thanks for saying what is right, what we know is right and what we can only hope, wish that all others will accept as right.

Karen Tynes: Amen!

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