Being gay is not a choice; being intolerant is

Bill Michael lives in Elizabethtown.
Bill Michael lives in Elizabethtown.

Richard Nelson's commentary uses, as its entire premise, the conviction that gay people deliberately choose a lifestyle that often comes with the deepest scorn and contempt society can dish out.

I tell you, despite even how things are much better now than 10 years ago, only those of the most committed masochistic intent would "choose" to be gay.

Nelson's quote from A Tale of Two Cities seems to serve as a warning about letting gay people emerge from the darkness for society will surely disintegrate if gay people are treated as human beings.

I, too, have a quote, from Voltaire, who famously said; "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

That myth, that gay people "choose" their lifestyle, is used mercilessly by many including "good" Christians and Christian leadership who all find it a convenient means by which to excuse themselves from their persecution of gay people.

Nelson says being persecuted for skin color or racial heritage is simply not on the same level as persecution for being gay because gay people have "chosen" their lifestyle and so should suffer the consequences of making that choice.

Young people who hear words from people like Nelson commit suicide every day because they hear him and have no one else to turn to.

Nelson, executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center, and others like him occupy unassailable positions of authority, shouting from high up in the bully pulpit that children who choose to be gay will, and should, burn in hell forever because they chose to be gay.

I was a child once, and then I was a teenager, and without lifting a finger, I fell in love with an adorable Native American boy who was my classmate in high school. No one made me do it, nor did I choose to be smitten by Bobby, but he was suddenly the all-consuming object of my undying affection and desire.

Nelson also says that gay people were never harmed by Christians, yet I know this to be untrue, because the first order of business by early Christians on this continent was to burn alive at the stake Native American male couples who wouldn't repent and convert to Christianity.

Nelson asserts that it is he and his fellow Christians who are the real "victims," suggesting that it is they who are increasingly hobbled by government in the freedom to practice their faith.

Nelson cautions that this will lead to a chilling effect on the practices of Muslims, Christians and Jews.

But if you study much religion, you know that early Christians stoned to death their disrespectful children. Muslims and Christians alike share holy scriptures that condone slavery, torture and child brides.

Of course, we don't allow any of that in the United States, because we are a nation of liberty and justice for all, and there are laws against stoning back-talking teenagers at sunset.

There is simply nothing stopping Nelson from speaking his mind or praying to his God wherever and whenever he wishes. In fact, he was given almost a quarter of precious space on the op-ed page to speak his piece.

If Nelson chooses to walk out of his church and go open a business to the public, supported by infrastructure built with taxpayer dollars, protected by public police and firefighters and operated under the protections guaranteed by the rule of law, then he doesn't get to hide behind his religion every time he disagrees with something.

I am happy to report that my same-sex partner and I just got married at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Rockville, Md., and Nelson should know that my marriage is legal under the law, doesn't affect him, is of no concern to him, and certainly shouldn't keep him awake at night since we all live together in a republic, and not a theocracy.

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