I don’t like rainbow crosswalks.
Rainbow crosswalks have dominated the news in the Okanagan.
The past few days have brought forward objection and indignation — even the threat of a lawsuit.
I’ve seen letters written condemning the decision and threats of fire and brimstone on “judgement day.”
The point being made is that these crosswalks somehow condone a lifestyle that those on the God-fearing path object to.
That is where I have a problem.
A few years ago, a major retailer instructed their staff not to say Merry Christmas to customers. The uproar was deafening. How dare this retailer take Christ out of Christmas!
That expression should be protected and it seemed perfectly fine for those of different faiths to be ignored.
Freedom of expression and inclusion can’t be a one-way street.
If a rainbow crosswalk is an expression of inclusion, then it too must be protected.
At what point do we as a society see past identifiers like someone’s sexual orientation, gender, race or religion and just see people?
People who have families, moms and dads, people who contribute to society, people who smile, laugh and cry just like you.
They have brothers and sisters.
They even put their pants on one leg at a time.
We like to believe we live in a free society.
Along the way to a free society, we forgot about the free part.
We decided that it was more important to force our views down each others throats.
If you dare to lead a different life, then you must be shamed, ridiculed and singled out. Protested against. Threatened.
It’s okay though, because some of those spreading the hate and bigotry believe they can go to church on Sunday and be forgiven.
It’s not okay.
This weekend, I met a very nice person. An accomplished lawyer. Happily married. Wicked sense of humour. The fact that she is a woman and a lesbian are not relevant.
My problem with rainbow sidewalks isn’t the paint.
I just don’t think we should need a rainbow to remind us to treat our fellow humans with respect and dignity.
If you believe that people of a certain gender, race or sexual orientation don’t deserve these basic principles, then I doubt a rainbow crosswalk will change your mind.
I happen to be an atheist. As an atheist, I don’t judge those that choose to believe in a higher power. I see them as people that choose a different path. I value them. I respect them. I don’t need to be reminded to do so.
We all have a responsibility to respect each other and embrace our differences.
Religions in Canada have freedom to worship. They have sanctuaries, monuments and public holidays.
We are taught to be tolerant of different belief systems from an early age.
Intolerance and ridicule need to end. We all need to take a deep breath and start over.
The purpose of these rainbow crosswalks, pink shirt days or other gestures are to remind people of what they should be naturally doing anyway.
So I don’t like rainbow crosswalks but I accept that they serve a purpose.
Rob Murphy is the sales manager at the Summerland Review.