The 12-year-old Mennonite Who Tried to Get Clinton to Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

girl writing letter

Photo credit: ladelentes

When I was 12, I wrote a letter to President Clinton regarding the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy. There I was, a conservative Christian pacifist 12-year-old writing to the president to convince him that citizens who happened to be openly gay should be allowed to serve in the military.

When I first read about DADT, I was appalled. “But…this is America,” I thought, “We don’t discriminate here. Everyone is equal in our country.

Of course, a child doesn’t have a whole lot of power to change things. The only thing I could do was try to persuade the president. Maybe he’d be so surprised a kid was writing to him he’d rethink the whole thing and put a stop to it.

I wrote to him about the first Anabaptists who came to our country. They crossed the ocean to escape persecution. By persecuting and discriminating against people just because they’re different, we are no better than the people who chased my spiritual ancestors out of Europe. I told him that America is supposed to be a place of refuge for people who are “different”. It didn’t matter what I thought about people who were gay. That wasn’t the point. The point was that they were American citizens and had the same “unalienable rights [of] Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” shared by the rest of us.

Several months later, I received an autographed photograph and read that DADT was implemented.

DADT was repealed in 2011. But, we’re still not the America I believed in when I was 12. Arizona is looking at a bill that would amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This would allow business owners to deny service to LGBT customers.

I tend to lean libertarian when it comes to politics. I’m not in favor of forcing businesses to serve customers. I think the issue is much deeper than that though.

Would a business refuse to serve a divorced man?

Would a business owned by a man who believes women should submit to their husbands refuse to serve me because I’m a feminist?

Would a Christian-owned business refuse to serve atheists?

Let’s call this what it is. It’s not about religious freedom. It’s about prejudice.

It is already a business owners right to refuse service to anyone. However, when that anyone becomes any group it changes everything.

If a business owner is going to refuse service to people based on religious reasons, they need to refuse service to all “sinners”. Of course, I doubt they’d be in business for very long if that happened.

This isn’t a post about LGBT rights. This is a post telling Christians to stop shrouding prejudice in religion.

(Note: This is about for-profit businesses, not churches. That’s a whole separate issue.)

4 Comments

  1. And, we have to determine, since we have become the arbiters, whether the person is denying service to a gay person because they are sinners, or whether he is denying service to a gay wedding, because by participating, he would violate tenets of his faith.

    They are two different issues, with two different solutions.

    Reply
  2. SO is it right that the government forces someone to do something, like intern the Japanese, against their religious beliefs? When does government trump religious doctrine?

    If the bakers do not serve them, is the couple out of a cake, or just not able to buy a cake from the one bakery? How do we balance this with the rights of the owner?

    Reply

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