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Koons: I didn't choose to be straight

BY GUEST COLUMN | FEBRUARY 27, 2013 5:00 AM

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My grandfather was born left-handed, but when he attended elementary school, his teacher smacked him with a ruler when he didn’t write with his right hand. Do we, figuratively, want to be a nation of instructors who abuse students for being who they are? I know that I don’t, which is why I support the right of people to express their love for the person of their choosing.

When discussing gay rights, we often get stuck in legal mumbo jumbo and our limited understanding of “social norms.” Marriage may have historically been between men and women. I’m sure the founders hadn’t thought about the issue when composing our nation’s governing documents.

Furthermore, our nation has looked to Judeo-Christian beliefs for guidance and wisdom throughout our existence, and the vast majority of Judeo-Christian leaders believe and teach that gay activity and marriage are sinful.

But we don’t need such context to arrive at the right answer on this issue. The same common sense that tells us that skin color shouldn’t determine an American’s access to rights and justice is enough. When I think about gay rights, I consider two things: my sense of my personal sexual orientation and what it would be like to be held to the standard some wish to impose on gay Americans.

I, personally, am straight and have no control over my orientation. When women that I consider attractive walk by, I instinctively take notice. Surely, it is absurd to suggest that gay people are making a choice to be gay when I’m not making a similar choice to be straight? I try to imagine a world where society expects me to never express or act on the deep love I might feel for a female soulmate. If straight people cannot imagine a life of celibacy or a life of lies married to someone of the same sex, how can we expect acquiescence from gay Americans?

If an American is born a certain way and has no choice in being who they are, is it right to ask them to live without what their fellow Americans consider a crucial part of life — of what being an American is all about? America is not only a nation of entrepreneurial patriots; those patriots are part of families and fall in love. America is more than geography and written laws. America is a nation of families, where individuals work hard and want partners with which to share life. If being part of family, falling in and expressing love and starting new families are central to being an American, how can we bar fellow citizens from that experience?

If we’re equal under the law as well as endowed with certain inalienable rights, then our assumption should be that one citizen should have no less right to live and love in America than another. Let’s not hoard certain rights for some Americans and refuse others. Let’s stop holding others to standards we ourselves cannot imagine living.

Andy Koons
Daily Iowan guest columnist


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