Every once in a while a news item becomes so big that a threshold is reached. Thinking people must weigh in.
When the US Supreme Court hears two cases involving the rights and treatment of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, there is a lot at stake. Our country faces a really important test.
It’s not so much about the specific legal issues, though they are not insignificant. Much more important here is the larger question of what America will decide about compassion, grace and fairness. Will we, as a nation, stay true to our founding principles of freedom and equality for all?
I have a strong opinion on fairness. And I am sorry for your heart if you don’t agree.
In the “About me” segment over at DrJohnM, I connect the spiritual heart and the biologic beating one. What I mean to say is that having a cheery, kind and loving heart is good for your health. Study upon study provides the scientific evidence for this claim. Human companionship reduces the risk of heart attacks; happiness lowers markers of inflammation and improves endothelial (artery) function and unlike exercise, love has no known upper limit. Our biology favors being good to each other.
I know very little about comparative religious studies, and I am definitely not a bible scholar. But this deficit of knowledge matters not. It is simple. How we treat fellow humans doesn’t turn on whether they are short or tall, black or white, female or male and surely not whether they are gay or straight. How we should treat other living beings is a given: with kindness and compassion, as we would want to be treated ourselves.
One thing I have learned from being a doctor (perhaps the greatest lesson of doctoring) is that people are just people. At our core we all want similar things: kindness, health, freedom, justice and love.
Surely, all can agree that our nation needs more love. And can there be too much equality and fairness? LGBT folks want the same rights that my wife and I enjoy. When I was sick recently, Staci slept at my bedside in the hospital. Why was she allowed to do this? Because we are legally married. On what planet should the legality of our commitment to each other turn on our anatomic parts?
Do not overthink this issue. Step back from it. Put yourself in the shoes of others. Be the parent or grandparent of a lesbian daughter or gay son. Be their doctor, their teacher, their minister. Be their friend. Then think it over.
This should be such an easy test. And it’s way past time that we took it. How we treat our fellow citizens says a lot about who we are as a country.
I want to live in a place where we don’t discriminate on the basis of who we love.
More love please.
John Mandrola is a cardiologist who blogs at Dr John M.