Even though it’s 2019, there’s still legislation attempting (and succeeding) to reduce the rights of marginalized communities, particularly the LGBTQ community. From Trump’s national transgender military ban to Tennessee’s proposed Natural Marriage Defense Act, both pieces of legislation hinder the LGBTQ community’s full rights as a citizen of the United States. In this regard, it seems as if some legislators are more focused on backpedaling pre-existing legislation in favor of bigotry, ignorance or the blanket excuse: Religious beliefs.

Many proponents against LGBTQ rights argue their religious beliefs should be respected, and they should. The First Amendment clearly states anyone may choose, or not choose, to practice any religion. Anyone may go to whichever church they choose or not to go. Anyone may choose to pray in school or not to pray. Anyone may choose how to dress, who to love and how to live based on the values their religion teaches, if any religion is chosen at all. The definitive line separating religious beliefs and personal choice are people’s rights, including legislation. The First Amendment doesn’t mean a religious community gets to choose who gets rights and on what premises based on their religious doctrines. Separation of church and state wasn’t meant to protect the sanctity of the church and the fairness of the state.

For those who still don’t understand the importance of people’s rights, please review a general overview of European/American history. England nearly had a civil war, and many would argue they actually did, when two sects of the same religion (much less two different religions) fought for government power. America left that behind when they wrote the Constitution. Never again would someone feel marginalized or afraid of living based on the fear of the majority religion’s doctrines.

Right now, LGBTQ people can feel nervous and afraid of expressing themselves, of coming out to their families and friends, and before 2015, LGBTQ people couldn’t consider their partner their legal spouse. As the LGBTQ community brings more awareness to the public and more legislation is passed to uplift and protect the rights of LGBTQ people, it’s up to the majority, heterosexual community to advocate the rights of a minority community; it’s important to be an ally.

Regardless of religious beliefs, nobody said religious people need to spend more time degrading a community; nobody needs to more spend time eradicating pre-existing rights; nobody needs to condone prejudices against the LGBTQ community. I’ve never seen a religion that argued people need to judge, hate or hurt other people. If that’s your personal beliefs about your religion, it’s no wonder nobody wants to convert to a side that values negativity over love.