Duke: Arguing against rights in a vacuum

Let’s imagine there are two rooms with a wall separating them and a door in the middle connecting them. Let us now imagine that I am having a conversation in one room with you in the other room. But I am standing directly in front of the wall, and you are on the other side of the wall at the other end of the room. We are both speaking, but there is no true conversation until we both approach the door and see each other face to face. Simple? It should be.


So many of our arguments that we have are compounded by the fact that we are arguing about different things. The past year brought about sweeping changes in abortion restrictions in Arkansas. Those on the pro-choice side argued that the woman’s right to her body is paramount while the anti-abortion set argued that they were protecting those who had no power in the decision. The problem is both of those basic arguments are sound. The real debate consists of where the basis of life begins. Otherwise you are just yelling at walls.

Arkansas is also the ground for another debate, this one on the firing of a teacher at Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock. The teacher, Tippi McCullough, married her female partner in New Mexico, and as a result, she was fired. The school based its decision on the rules of the Catholic Church, whose newest leader, Pope Francis, has made many statements with a softened stance on the homosexual community.

McCullough has asked for an apology, and petitions have circulated demanding her reinstatement.

Many have tried to come out in the middle of the argument, saying that although they don’t have a problem with her “lifestyle,” Mount St. Mary Academy is a private institution with very clear rules. She knew those rules, and she broke them. She should have known better.

But this is where the argument could fail. Is being gay a choice? More and more evidence is coming forth to say that it is not. So if being born gay is the same as being born black, would these same people have a problem with a private school that was “white only?”

This is the precise conundrum that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got himself into when he publicly stated that he believed homosexuality was a trait one was born with and then followed that revelation with his belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

I’m sorry, what?

I would have more respect for you if you stuck to your guns and just decided that it was a choice. Then all your arguments would line up correctly. By admitting that homosexuality is not a choice and still falling in line with an institution that restricts the rights of those who are gay is most definitely a civil rights issue.

But I haven’t seen that. I’ve seen a defense of the school and the principal, who knew for years who McCullough was and what she was, but who decided it was easier to wrap themselves up in doctrine that actually goes against what a certain Savior came here to preach.

Arguing that she should go to a public school ignores one important factor: Do we want to live in a society that chastises someone simply for who they are, especially if that person had no choice in the matter? Do we want religious institutions, ones that we have built much of our society upon, to have so much control that they can discard human rights and human dignity based on rules set forth by those who thought the earth was flat?

Quit yelling at a wall only to hear yourself. Come to the door, and state your honest feelings. Only then will a real discussion begin.

Ricky Duke is the editor of the Log Cabin Democrat. Contact him at ricky.duke@thecabin.net