The latest "big thing" appears to be the St. Louis Rams drafting the NFL's first openly gay player, Michael Sam.
Of course, some people are up in arms, decrying such a sexual orientation and labeling it as an abomination in God's eyes. They carry that belief into the debate over topics such as gay marriage and the like. So, I want to take this opportunity to point out a couple things to those who preach these very words.
I won't take the time to point out that many people openly condemn this type of behavior in the name of a chosen religion (and while completely dismissing the teachings of said religion, which instructs that it's not our place to judge, but God's).
I also won't take time to point out that many who condemn this behavior in the name of religion are also the very people who, when it appears that other religions might be gaining influence in our political process and subsequent laws, express displeasure by proclaiming "Religion has no place in politics." In addition, spare me the argument about how deplorable radical Islam is -- we are all aware. That is precisely why religious beliefs are not supposed to be a part of lawmaking. It's a principle that protects us from would-be fanatics.
No, I won't point out those glaring hypocrisies. What I will point out is: Religious beliefs do not trump people's civil liberties, and our love for liberty and freedom shouldn't be exercised on a selective basis measured on a contingency that it must jive with one's chosen way of life or religious affiliation.
Either you want the government deciding laws based on religion, or you don't. Your right to be religious is no more important than a person's right to not be.
This type of selective enforcement of individual liberty based on translation is also what drives things like the debate over the Second Amendment. Those who oppose the amendment proclaim it is outdated, and that having the ability to own things like AR-15 rifles is not what the Founders intended. I reject that belief, but I find it ironic that many people who also reject that belief reject the idea of things like gay marriage and base their rejection on their interpretation of one of many versions or translations of the Bible.
This type of interpretation, when left to the wrong people, is what lead to slavery being legal. It's what led to laws that are said to equal the playing field for all but ultimately rob from one group in order to help another. The only way to truly balance the playing field or make everything "fair" is to start adhering to the U.S. Constitution and applying it to everyone -- free of personal preference and idea, regardless of race, religion and, wait for it, sexual orientation.
When we leave it up to the government to "fix" problems we create because of our intolerance, they usually do so with devastating and divisive overreach. And then we come full circle to start yelling about our own civil liberties all over again.
I wanted to use a quote regarding what the Bible says about judging others -- but, ironically enough, there were too many translations and versions of the verse to come to a decisive decision on which one to apply.
So, to put this simply: Gay people don't hurt you. Gay people being married doesn't hurt you. Gay players in the NFL really don't hurt you. It may all hurt someone's feelings, but the last time I checked, the Constitution was written for people to be free of oppression, not free of being overly sensitive to things that have little or no effect on their civil liberties.
Ian Pickett is a former Marine, retired correctional sergeant and current high school basketball coach.