Monday, January 3, 2011

Sometimes there is no other side

Matt Kailey is a transman living in Denver, Colorado, and an author, public speaker, and trainer on transgender issues. He blogs at Tranifesto. In his ideal world, no one would be equal to anyone else – everyone would just be equal.

When President Obama selected Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the presidential inauguration, much controversy ensued. Gay and lesbian groups, aware of Warren's anti-gay stance, complained. Obama defended his decision by saying that he wanted to present “a wide range of viewpoints.”

The central argument of the gay and lesbian community at the time was that the desire to deny equal rights to a particular group of people was not a “viewpoint.” 

Of course, this issue was debated into the ground two years ago, and we've all moved on, but the fact remains - sometimes there is no other side.

Although I would support moral relativism in far more instances than I would oppose it, a viewpoint is inherent in the concept. If something is not inherently “right” or “wrong,” but is subject to debate based on the circumstances, then that something, whatever it is, lends itself to a viewpoint. There are sides to the debate.

But there are some situations that only have one side - those that have to do with the worth and value of people. A person can dislike me based solely on the fact that I am transsexual. “Not liking transsexual people” is a viewpoint. But saying that I'm not entitled to certain things because I'm transsexual is not a viewpoint. There is no other side to equality. Basic human rights should not be up for debate.

Certainly, everyone has a “right” to his or her opinion. But opinions should not control rights. 

There is no other side to:

Equal employment opportunities for everyone, without regard to race, ethnic background, religion, ability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and a host of other variables. That doesn't mean that criteria cannot be established for a certain job, but the criteria have to be related to what is needed to do the job and not based on someone's opinion of who is or is not “acceptable.” 

The right of consenting adults to enter into a civil contract that provides the same rights and benefits to all of those who enter into it. It can be called “marriage” or not, but it should be called the same thing for everyone. This has nothing to do with religious ceremonies or beliefs. Churches have the right to discriminate against anyone, and they can continue to do so as long as they meet government guidelines for that discrimination.

The right to serve in the military, which is a government- and taxpayer-funded operation. No program funded by the government should be allowed to discriminate. If those programs are allowed to do so, then citizens should be able to designate where they want their taxes to go.

The right to be as healthy as possible and to receive quality health care, regardless of financial or employment status. The “other side” to this is that the rich are entitled to be healthy and to live, the poor are not, and only people who have “socially acceptable” medical conditions are allowed to receive treatment. That is not a legitimate “side.” 

These are only a few of the issues that have no “other side.” They do not lend themselves to “viewpoints.” Basic human rights should never be subject to debate - and there is no “other side” to this, either.