Saturday, May 2, 2009

LGBT for Math Impaired Straight People - Lesson 5

As read in the comments log of a news website, "Why do they want special rights? They are only 2% of the population." Ignoring the ignorant adjective "special", let's talk about the ignorance of handing out civil rights based on what percent that minority is.

Are we making laws by the percent of people in a minority group now? If LGBT people were 10%, 20%, 50%, would this person change their mind? What's an acceptable number for a minority group before we respect them? Do they need to reach a majority because we are going to give rights based on voting? If we do that, all of us will lose some type of right. Because I doubt that very many of us are in the majority for every thing. Let's get some numbers and then answer that question.

It has been quoted for many years that 10% of the population is gay. These figures come from the original Kinsey study. There have been many surveys since then, with widely varying results. After all, the survey size has to be large enough and spread out demographically far enough in order to be statistically accurate. And then there is the problem of people telling the truth. Why would they? I searched the web trying to find a reliable source of information on this, figuring that any estimate by a gay organization would be immediately dismissed. Gallup came up and they seem as reputable as anyone. They estimate that anywhere from 3 to 8 % of the population is gay. They have some pretty interesting survey information so check it out.

Now, let's move on to religious denominations. Again, I sought out a reputable source of information, Pew Forum. This page shows the % of Americans belonging to each denomination.

Let's see. Mormons - 1.7%, Jewish - 1.7%, Catholic - 23.9, Atheist or not affiliated - 16.1%, Buddhist - 0.7%, Evangelical - 26.3%. Hmm. People not affiliated with any faith are about nine times those who are Mormon.

But there's a problem with these numbers. You see, they are constantly in flux. Why? Because, according to surveys done by PewForum, close to half of Americans change their faith.

Surprisingly, they do this without going to any ex-insert faith name here- therapy. For many reasons, they choose to leave the faith that they were raised in. Forgive what may sound like sarcasm here, but this seems like pretty good proof that people choose their faith.

So let's go back to something people don't choose, like being LGBT, their racial or ethnic origin. I tried to find out what percent of us are white, black, Hispanic, etc. Yep. Most of us are white. A good 70% or more. However, it turns out this is in a state of flux too. At the last census, households were allowed to choose more than one race. Huh? Well, that's more like "duh". Interracial marriage is on the rise. The US census bureau changed their rules in the year 2000 in order to more accurately measure the amount of interracial diversity in the United States. My source? The US Census Bureau, where else?

Does the US Census bureau track the percent of LGBT households? .....Sort of. The question is buried and has to be extracted, something that I could not find on their website. However, other folks with more patience and savvy than myself have pulled together the "unmarried partner" and "gender" data to compile what percent of households are gay. Take a look.

Ok, enough with numbers. Even those who are math impaired must know where I am going by now. It doesn't matter how many people are LGBT. It doesn't matter how many people are Evangelical Protestants or Mormons. If we are going to use percentage as an argument, all religions will lose as none are even close to 51%. Mormons will lose. And no matter how much I disagree with their faith - and I do, big time - I'm a staunch believer in freedom of religion.

How can I ask for rights if I want to deny the rights of others?

Our constitution was written in a time when we allowed slavery and women did not have rights. Only property owners had rights. Then we had literacy tests and poll taxes. We have read more into the words written into our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights as time has passed. We know that the founding fathers had heated debates about slavery and gave in so they could move forward with uniting the colonies. They knew in the long run, this would be best. Their vision reached beyond the social norms of the time. Did they intend for us to re-interpret their words? I don't know. But we do and we are stronger for it. I believe our constitution protects the right to equal treatment under the law for all - even if it applies to just one unique individual.

Some religions have taken this same approach with ancient scriptures. The motto of the United Church of Christ is "Our religion is 2000 years old. Our thinking is not." How could authors from 2000 years ago see into the future? Only Biblical scholars know why Leviticus was written for priests and it's cultural and historical context. But the messages of love one another, kindness, compassion and charity are timeless. It's the "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" lessons that are important. One does not have to be religious to have strong values or morals. One also does not need to be straight. One simply has to be human - with an open heart and compassion.

And I'm truly sorry I could not find a survey to find out how many of us fall into this last category.

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