A few weeks ago I came home to find some fliers wedged into my front door. They were promoting God as well as a specific denomination of Christianity.
It's certainly not the first time I've found such literature on my property. And I can recall three or four times in the 10 years I've been a homeowner in the city of Cincinnati when representatives of this and other Christian organizations knocked on my door and engaged me in conversation designed to introduce me to their lifestyle.
These folks have chosen to follow a Christian behavior, and that's great. I'm happy for them. It might bother me a bit to get solicited on my own front steps, but I'm not offended that they appear uninvited and unannounced.
Not once in the past 10 years, however, has a gay person knocked on my door and tried to convince me to consider his or her lifestyle. Never.
Yet, if you believe the rightwing political machine, gays are out to destroy everything we hold dear in the United States.
If not checked and controlled, the vast gay agenda would infiltrate our homes, our schools, our churches. We'd be powerless to resist them.
Gays want rights! Can you believe it? And they want to get married! What's next, dogs and cats living together?
And it's all because of this damn lifestyle they lead. A behavior. A choice they made to be gay, and now they want to flaunt it all over us and drag us down with them.
One behavior/lifestyle is deemed unfit for proper Cincinnati society, and so the rightwing politicians devised Article 12, which denies legal protection based on "homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation, status, conduct or relationship." The voters bought it and passed it in 1993.
Another behavior/lifestyle is not only openly promoted and marketed — particularly by the very same rightwing politicians — it's protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
(I know that many people consider homosexuality to be an instrinsic characteristic and not a lifestyle choice. But I'm trying to make a point, so let's deal with the rightwingers on their own terms.)
Yes, some behaviors and lifestyles — such as religion and marriage — are protected by law. In fact, legislators in Ohio just passed another law to protect, even defend, marriage.
And yet in Cincinnati, the only American city to do this, being gay doesn't grant you protected status in city ordinances, regulations, rules or policies. In other words, you can legally be fired from your job or denied an apartment here because you're gay — but you have legal remedy if you're fired because you're Christian, married, African American, a woman, of Appalachian background, practice certain other lifestyles or have certain other characteristics.
There's no way around it — Article 12 selects one group of Cincinnatians, gays, and denies them legal protection. That's discrimination, plain and simple.
Citizens to Restore Fairness (CRF) have decided to take on Article 12, working almost a year full-time laying the groundwork for the repeal campaign (see cover story, Persons of the Year: Healing the Hurt). They'll surely meet stiff resistance from the rightwing politicians, who surely will import fear-mongering carpetbaggers to confuse the issues here.
"Pssst, buddy, don't you know there's a gay conspiracy?" they'll whisper knowingly as they open their bags of hate throughout Cincinnati. "Yeah, they're coming for your kids. In the libraries. Hey, wanna see some photos? Incest, pedophilia, bestiality — it's all here. It's the Gay Agenda."
As the cover story points out, CRF is combatting that kind of misinformation with one-on-one conversations. Maybe you've already spoken with someone who came to your door to discuss Article 12. If not, and you live in the city, don't be surprised to hear them knock.
In my opinion, we can't have enough conversations with our fellow citizens. You want to talk about Article 12? Sure. Want to discuss the new public school being built in our neighborhood? OK. Want to pitch me on your faith? OK.
But if I can appreciate the Christian lifestyle and its meaning to vast numbers of fellow citizens and if I can tolerate them trespassing on my property to promote that lifestyle, Christians (and others) should be able to appreciate that certain people are gay and deserve to live as full citizens in Cincinnati.
It's what Jesus would do. It's what decent people do.
See our Article 12 archives for further background stories.