We are a young nation made up of individual states that reflect varying levels of maturity regarding civil rights. If we consider the maturation of rights in the states as a lesson in governing that benefits most citizens, then the passage of the civil rights laws of the ’60s and the same-sex marriage laws today can be viewed as a measure of our tolerance or (in the state of Idaho) intolerance toward difference.
The passage of an anti-discrimination law protecting the rights of LGBT citizens creates a positive right for the majority of Idahoans. This is a collective right that cannot possibly satisfy all individuals. Those who oppose the creation of this positive right defend their opposition on the basis of their individual beliefs in a negative right — the right to legally discriminate against gay and transgender citizens.
In a truly democratic society, one that bars discrimination against any person, participation in public life provides me with the opportunity to maintain whatever beliefs I want. It does not allow me to discriminate against others and deny their rights in my practice of those beliefs. Add the words or accept Idaho’s inability to govern itself.
Robert McCarl, Boise
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