LGBTQ people ask for equality, not special rights

By Cathy Martinez, Staff Writer

Equality Utah’s Common Ground Initiative was put forth in response to statements made by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality. Although I am not an expert on the Common Ground Initiative, I do know its main goal was to provide certain rights to a group of people who have historically been discriminated against.

LGBTQ people deserve the same rights and protections as every other human being. That being said, it concerns me when people claim that we are asking for “special rights”8212;there is nothing special about what we are asking for. We are simply asking for equality, for laws that protect our families against hatred and violence. We are asking for the right to insure our partners under our health benefit plans.

Imagine for a moment going to your job and knowing every day that this could be your last day if someone realized that you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Utah is a right-to-work state, which means that an employer can terminate an employee without stating a reason. This, in turn, allows discrimination to go unchecked in the workplace. Even though state law does not prohibit this, it still does not make it humane to fire people because they are different.

Now imagine the anxiety attached to going home every day and not knowing if there will be an eviction notice on your door because someone in your apartment building or neighborhood discovered and informed your landlord that you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Do we call it a “special right” to be afforded the same securities that mainstream society is privileged to have? This is just something to think about.

I am not asking anyone to compromise their beliefs or values, nor am I asking anyone to accept the LGBTQ community. I am simply asking people to look in our eyes and see us as deserving human beings, deserving of the same rights as everyone else. We are old, young, dark, light, parents, grandparents, children, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, partners, co-workers, soldiers and friends.

The Common Ground Initiative was one step toward equality. Granting human rights to LGBTQ people through legislation will not take anything away from society; it will only add to society. If you would like more information about the Common Ground Initiative and how you can continue to support it and similar programs, please visit Equality Utah’s Web site at www.equalityutah.org.

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Editor’s Note8212;Cathy Martinez is the director of the U’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center.

Cathy Martinez