Opinion | Susan Knopf: Celebrate LGBTQ

Tolerance is not enough. It’s the lowest common denominator, and we can do better.

Atticus Fournette works at a local ski area. He told me tolerance is tolerable, but celebrating is better. Thanks, Atticus, for the title of this column.

Fournette told me about a conversation. A family member told him gay marriage is not blessed by G-d. Fournette asked, “What about marriage between atheists?” That drew a long, silent pause.

We are celebrating the Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, with amendments thanks apparently to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons. You may have noticed Mitt Romney, a Mormon, was one of a handful of Republicans who voted for this bill.

According to the Deseret News, a Utah newspaper, the Mormons have been working to reconcile their own belief that marriage is only between a man and woman, and embracing social justice for the LGBTQ community.

Don’t you wish more people could get on this page? 

For the record, the Respect from Marriage Act specifically excludes religious institutions. They are not required to render any services for the LGBTQ community.

Local married gay couple Ron Gebhardtsbauer and Greg Wright told me “We don’t like it.” They would prefer there were no carve-outs for religious organizations. At the same time, they acknowledged Congress has come a long way in 20 years.

I understand what they mean. There wasn’t a lot of good child care in the Louisiana town I lived in when my first child was born. What if the church child care we selected said, “Sorry we don’t enroll children from Jewish homes. We limit our enrollment to those who accept Jesus as their savior.”? I probably would’ve quit my job. There just wasn’t another good choice for infant care. 

That’s the issue when a gay couple wants a wedding cake from the best baker in town. They don’t want a second-best cake just because they are gay.

What about trans people? We’ve got a congresswoman in our neighboring district claiming on Twitter that children are being “groomed.”

The heterosexual grooming is pretty pervasive and ubiquitous. I don’t think I’ve ever observed any other kind of grooming.

A friend in town has a granddaughter who was born a grandson. The child selected a distinctly feminine name and told the family to use that name going forward. Trust me, no one groomed him. They are trying to adjust and meet her needs. They have sought professional guidance.

My friend fears for her grandchild’s safety. I do too.

Another trans person I know, who I will call Lisa in this column, told me she knew she was supposed to be a girl instead of a boy when she was just 4 years old. I know that may lead to incredulity, but I’ve seen interviews with children from respectable and authoritative news sources confirming the same kind of young certitude.

Lisa is a veterinarian and veteran of our military. Before transitioning, Lisa was married. After her wife died, she looked at her life and decided it was time to be herself. She transitioned from a man to a woman. There are still a couple more operations she could do, like changing her voice.

Before any surgery, patients are required to outwardly transition and dress and act as the gender of their choosing. Lisa said she was afraid of losing her vet practice. Her clients said they were good with her choice, and appreciated her work over the years. She said her business dropped 50% the next year, and another 50% the following year. She closed the practice.

Lisa said she worked at a grocery store for a while before another veterinarian practice offered her employment.

She knew she wanted to be her true self. She says she does not feel threatened, but there are lot of trans people who live in fear their whole lives.

Do we want our neighbors to lose their lives at an LGBTQ club, or lose their health to fear? Lisa and her companion of five years both told me the same thing. Everybody just wants to be treated like everybody else. The best gift this season: treat one another the way each of us would like to be treated. It’s really that simple.

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