Off the Leash: We all have rights, even if I don’t like your ideas …

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If we learn anything from the massacre in Orlando, it’s that we have to end the debate over LGBT rights in this country.

According to the FBI, the shooter held a strong anti-gay ideology, that he chose this club specifically to target gay people. It appears that the shooter inherited his father’s hatred for gay people, a child shaped by the beliefs of the parent.

Beliefs predicate actions, and consequences such as the ones this week cannot be tolerated. So, what needs to happen in this country to end the unacceptable persecution of the LGBT community?

First, we need to understand how our country is structured. Many believe that we live in a democracy. This is a misconception. We live in a democratic republic.

The main difference between the two is that a democracy is ruled by the majority. Minority classes only have the rights the majority decides to share or bestow upon others. Should the majority choose to withdraw those rights, it is appropriate given the structure of the democratic system.

A republic, while sharing many attributes with a democracy, has a constitution, laying out, from its inception, the rights and privileges given to its citizens. Republics are governed by the “rule of law.” Republics have a better track record protecting the rights of minority groups.

As America evolved, we have seen equal rights recognized for African Americans, voting rights for women and now rights for the LGBT community, including the right to marry. This is the nature of a republic.

This is why, in some states, the majority cannot rescind the rights of these minorities that are protected by the American Constitution.

The second principle in the U.S. Constitution that needs to be upheld is the separation of church and state. Religious persecution and wrongs were intimately invovled in the decisions of many to emigrate to the English and Spanish colonies in North America.

This protection was an integral part of our Constitution because the founding fathers knew that, historically, when religion becomes too entwined in the business of governing, things go very wrong for the state and the church.

In the 1970s, the conservative wing of the Christian church made a methodical move to shape policy in the U.S. government. I believe this move has been disastrous for the country and the church. It took almost 200 years to elect a Catholic president in this country, mainly because the people feared that a Catholic president would be more beholding to Rome than to the U.S.

Now to get elected, a candidate has to answer to conservative protestants if he or she wants to get into office. Donald Trump is now waving his protestant credentials so he can win votes. Suddenly he has seen the light and touts his commitment to faith when he has shown no interest in the past.

He has even kissed Jerry Falwell Jr.’s ring to win the reverend’s blessing on his candidacy. This has to stop.

Religion has too much sway over this government and we must return to the principles this country was founded upon.

LGBT rights are the civil rights issue of this generation. This republic is responding, as it should, by honoring the Constitution of the United States and giving LGBT people equal protection under the law.

You can have your religious beliefs, that is your right under the Constitution, but it shouldn’t be enacted into law. We are not a mob. We are a republic guided by laws.

Respect the Constitution of the country you claim to love.

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