Rev. Keith Ogden's comments as Asheville City Council discussed providing health-insurance benefits for same-sex partners come from the same ignorance that could have kept this country from electing an African-American president. He said, "I didn't choose my skin color. … But the homosexual lifestyle, that's a lifestyle choice."
My daddy, alongside all the deacons in the fundamentalist Baptist Church in Alabama where I grew up, barred entrance to the church when desegregation laws were passed. Rev. Ogden would not have had the opportunity to celebrate the election of President Obama had that same ignorance prevailed.
If Rev. Ogden chose to learn about the lifestyle he abhors, he might be enlightened. At least he would be informed that not one gay/lesbian person would say they had a choice about their lifestyle.
Instead, his ignorance and fear keep him from living the lesson of "Love thy neighbor as thyself." My daddy never could explain why that didn't really include everybody.
I would have Rev. Ogden line up all of the city's gay/lesbian people and tell them they have two choices: Door No. 1 for heterosexuals or Door No. 2 for homosexuals. If you enter No. 1, you will go to heaven and live a life without harassment, discrimination and fear. If you enter No. 2, you will go to hell and might be beaten up, killed, harassed, know people who killed themselves rather than come out, put in a psychiatric hospital to cure your gayness, have your kids taken away from you, have your kids told you are mentally unstable, lose jobs, not get hired, not be able to get married and certainly not have health benefits for your partner.
As he is offering the choice of a lifetime with Door No. 1, thousands of gay/lesbian people are lining up behind Door No. 2. Shame on you, Rev. Ogden.
That same ignorance would still have you in the chains of slavery if people like my daddy and his fellow deacons were in charge. Your ignorance comes out of the same box.
— Farrell Sylvest