Memo From Michael: Take a Stand on Gay Rights

One thing I’ve learned in the 813 weeks I’ve been writing and posting these commentaries is that some people who love you (or at least say they do) can turn on a dime if you disagree with them on something fundamentally important to them. So I confess I think twice (or more) before I publish a commentary I know will evoke this sort of intense reaction. I don’t want to lose anybody — even those I disagree with.

My hesitation to speak my mind on certain topics for fear of losing friends and followers is a very pale shadow of what  many gay and lesbian people, especially teens, feel every day. Many of them “stay in the closet,”  filled with anxiety that they will be found out and guilt that they care so much about what others think that it causes them to hide who they are and pretend to be someone else.

President Obama’s unequivocal support for gay unions in his inaugural address and the recent decision of the Boy Scouts to defer action on new policies toward openly gay volunteers and employees has brought the issue to the forefront again.

I know many of the people who follow my work have a deeply grounded religious belief that homosexuality is a sin. Many fortify their convictions by believing that God would not make any child homosexual and, therefore, that it is a choice to be gay or lesbian. Whether you fall into this group or simply want to better understand the human dimension of this aspect of the bullying problem, please — I really mean please — read my commentary on the subject and take the time to watch one or more of the videos included in this piece that I posted last April. It could change your perspective, maybe even your life.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 32

  1. Michael,

    Thank you for speaking out for a group that is, I hope, one of the last clearly identifiable groups facing discrimination in our country.

    You are about my age, and we both can look back at the civil rights movement of our youth, and I will always wonder why I did not go to Selma and Birmingham and at least add one more voice to the cause.


    John Olsrud
    Retired director of the North Dakota Legislative Council and proud graduate of your course, ethics in the workplace back about 1998.

    1. Strangely, i often have the same regret. Thanks for your comment. It’s great to hear from one of the early members of the Ethics Corps

  2. I am a Christian and study mysticism and believe that we are no one to judge others sexual preferences.God did not made everyone to think with the same concept .Called it free will and in the only thing that is important to me is that we come together in spirit to praise and love God with no pastors or priest in between only God

  3. While I confess that I am a Christian and that I do believe the Biblical descriptions of what God thinks about homosexuality, sin and salvation, I also believe that the LGBT topic needs to be handled with truth, compassion and respect for all concerned. This ideal of respect means that even though I may disagree with you if you hold a different belief than I do, I am able to treat you with the respect and dignity that every human being deserves. You also must respect me even though you differ in some ways. There is no bullying in that. There is no room for name calling, hatred or trying to tear down the other. I can still respect your opinions eventhough I may disagree. I do not need to push my beliefs on you. And I hope you do not feel the need to push you4rs on me, either.

    I have had friends, family members and coworkers who see things through the lenses of LGBT glasses rather than my Christian perspective. I love them dearly. I both respect and agree with them on many other things. I don’t think that everyone has to be just the same in order for us to get along in life.

    The character counts! traits of good character in respect, trustworthiness, responsibility and caring are all at work here. Do we really believe in these? Do we live by them? Are they applicable to life’s various situations? I think so!

    1. God did not create gay people. He created people. How people act and behave do not always reflect the way he created them to act and behave. The Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin, as is gossiping, lying, gluttony, adultry, and many other behaviors. When we justiy sinful behavior we are on a slippery slope – we are all sinners, but we must always recognize sin.

  4. Hi Michael,
    Of course every person must be loved and respected but not every behaviour/lifestyle must be and it is important to separate these 2 things. The fact that homosexuals are sometimes bullied or hated is very sad and unfortunate and reflects how we as a society still struggle with the concept of loving the sinner (we are all sinners) but hate the sin. On the one hand we have those that are hating the person living this lifestyle (the sinner) which is terribly wrong. On the other hand we have those that are embracing, supporting and promoting the lifestyle (the sin) which is very wrong also. The homosexual behavior is destructive to the body, the soul and potentially to society. Putting the spiritual aspect aside for a moment it is proven that gay lifestyle leads to far more disease, illness, depression, suicide and an overall significantly shorter lifespan (please search up the many studies on this). Now if truly we care about someone do we not want to prevent them from going through this. We might try to stop friends and family from smoking or doing drugs or even eating too much unhealthy foods and yet we won’t help prevent them from living this lifestyle. This lifestyle is also by its nature more selfish. Sexual relations should include the mutual possibility of conception to be truly giving. Also, (again shown in studies) children need a mother and father. I won’t go further Michael except to say that I strongly and respectfully disagree with the extent to which you go in supporting the lifestyle rather than just the person. You mean well but may be doing more harm than you realize.

    1. Pat has expressed the words I have been searching for to articulate a response after reading Michael’s commentary on gay rights. I too strongly disagree with Michael’s support for what is an unhealthy lifestyle. What the culture is not addressing is from the very start, the premise is incorrect. To compare a lifestyle choice to a civil right is a total disconnect. That being said in all cases, a true person of character will respect and care for one another no matter their lifestyle choices. And isn’t that the greater goal, to develop people of character?

  5. Promoting gay rights is a solely personal agenda. It’s up to the individual according to what they believe and what political viewpoint they h old. I do not support it. I do not think it is appropriate for minors to “come out” so to speak in schools or to make this a school issue. There is enough research to clearly point to socio emotional and psychological problems resulting from premature sexual relationships or activities. This is very controversial. Let’s let the best sources, parents, decide on whether this needs to be promoted in schools for their monor children. Character Education needs to be inoffensive and general enough to have support overall. The LGBT issue is not part of character education, nor should it be. If public schools do not want a religious agenda pushed on students, let’s also stop pushing someone’s sexual agenda and belief system on students as well, eh? Is that fair? I believe it is.

    1. Kathleen, well said and explained!! There are many double standards and many people confuse Loving one another for accepting destructive behaviors as being tolerant. I will always love my son no matter what he does, but I will not accept nor tolerate certain behavior that goes against our values, faith, and that will destroy him and hurt others.

    1. Sad to say there has been censorship related to research if it disagrees with a popular political agenda. There has been no proven science to support someone being “born this way”. However, it is popular to believe this. Here is where we can seek truth even though it may not be the popular or “trendy” issue. We can choose to be responsible human beings and take ownership of our actions. We can determine our destinies and direction in life.

    1. Tolerance has been reshaped or “redefined” to mean that we just put up with anything without debate, without making an evaluation or judgement. Anything goes. Your ideas are as good as mine. If you disagree you are narrow minded and bigoted.

      As a teacher I am aware that our students need to make evaluative judgements as part of higher order or critical thinking skills, so in demand according to Bill Gates and our new Common Core standards.

      Tolerance truly means that even though I disagree with you, I still can respect your right to believe what you believe. You are accountable to your own conscience.

      When we step on other’s toes or impose our beliefs on others, this is when our rights have crossed important boundaries. I believe this is an essential idea when we are discussing anti bullying or our intolerance for bullying. Of course this means under all circumstances, when Christians are being bullied by others for their beliefs as well as many other groups that have had bullying experiences.

  6. However, truth never changes, and that’s what we must strive for. The Bible commands that I love everyone, but I don’t have to tolerate their choices. That said, I treat people the way I wish to be treated, with respect and dignity, no matter who they are.

  7. I don’t believe that gay people should be persecuted or offended.
    Unfortunarely however, in todays climate, it seems that people who do not agree that gay relationships are for the best, are treated as outcasts.
    Adults have a right to choose their lifestyle, even when according to my Christian beliefs, they are unacceptable.
    God does give a free will.
    I really do object to people in a position of influence, putting the thought in an innocent young mind, and turning them into something unnatural.
    I saw this first hand, when a young man was influenced in his formative years, and I am so sad for what he has become.
    You might think you are helping young people, but they would do better to remain as innocent as possible, for as long as possible, and then make up there own mind without the influence of people peddling this gay lifestyle

  8. Fixed. Please republish.

    Memo From Michael: Take a Stand on Bestial Rights
    by Josephson Institute on February 7, 2013

    in Bullying, Caring, Compassion, Commentaries, For Teens, Honesty

    One thing I

  9. Thank you for your comments and true understanding of what a GLBT person lives with. I struggled for years with being gay. My struggle was I had no resources to help me understand my feelings. I am 52 years old and growing up, we did not have the Internet. We had no one to speak to for fear of the punishment. I did my duty like I was raised to believe a man should do; I married a great lady, I had the house, car, job. I went to church, but I never FELT right. I LOVED my wife, but I was not in love with her. With the divorce, I obtained counseling. With understanding, I met a man and it FELT right. My vision was clear, my mind was clear and I have never felt better. I still struggled with my career, as being gay in law enforcement had challenges. Challenges my agency would force me to confront. It was not my choice, but they made it the issue. I can now say, 18 years later, my agency and I have come a long way. While like any relationship, it is not perfect, I can proudly say my agency is the best to work for and I’m proud of our journey.

  10. Michael, I wish you hadn’t used the Character Counts platform to express your opinion on gay marriage. As you know, the Catholic Church does not recognize gay marriages. Many Catholic schools have implemented the Josephson Institute’s Character Counts program. Sadly, we will have to disassociate ourselves with it now that you have counteracted the Church. You are entitled to your opinion, but this one does not belong in the Character Counts forum. We will continue to teach and model good moral character as we teachers always have. It is called The Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

  11. Thank you Michael for your honesty and willingness to speak out on this subject. Your voice and voices like yours can make all the difference in the world. Some individuals just need a bit of a push from someone they trust and value and for many you are the someone. Thank You again

  12. I dont think catholics should be throwing the first stone .Catholics priest have abused children for centuries and have killed and prosecuted by the thousands.God is not a religion and people are to ignorant of god to condemn anyone Priests and Pastors are not God or resemble him in spirit

  13. Paul the apostle wrote this almost 2000 years ago amazing how it fits into most societies today. Taken from Rom 1:26 to Rom 1:32

    “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient. Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful. Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them…..end.

    We all have sinned and come short of receiving Gods glory. Let’s not deceive ourselves God did not plant in us the desire for un-natural affections. This has come from somewhere other than him. I do not judge my fellow man personally everyone’s situation is different, but from a societal behavioral standpoint I absolutely condemn sexual perversion. The standard has been given by God to man. We need to obey and do his will not ours he promises heaven as the reward. It it were left up to Lucifer he would have the entire world confused and believing that God made us this way, that is a lie. He wouldn’t bring confusion into his world without telling us who he is Lucifer who can tempt us to corruption and death.

  14. Mr. Josephson,
    There is no ethics or good character unless it had come from above. Good ethics and character comes form each person loving one another we never really knew how to do this unless Jesus hadn’t shown us. The fruits of the spirit bring about an ethical person with the character of Jesus.

  15. I do not support gay rights. I support human rights. Whether I think what they are doing is “right” or “wrong” – from a religious perspective or anything else – the fact is that we are all human and should be treated as such. No one should be denied the right to live or work based on their race, gender or sexual orientation. Nor should they be discriminated against, shunned, or looked down on for those things. As for marriage, if your religion does not condone same-sex unions then they will not be performing marriages sanctioned by God. If other churches do, then it will be up to God to sort it out. Not us. Civil unions are a separate issue.

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