All Things Considered Opinion

When Silence Is Harmful

Written by Agenda Florida

By Joel S. Slotnick

For many years, my thoughts and opinions have been known to be  those of a person who will cross a line that some won’t.  It is my belief that one can get their message out and still (try to) be respectful of opinions and views unlike your own, whether they be from friends or strangers.  It’s not always an easy thing to do, especially if you’re passionate about the subject at hand.

I will try to do that now.

These last few weeks have been quite the go around not only for the presidential candidates, but for religious and everyday life.   A few of my previous articles have been about voting, and in light of the ever growing “anti” views and opinions out there, my column this week will touch on it again.

Just a little over a week ago, Indio California’s Shadow Hills High permitted students to wear anti-gay stickers on their school badges.  In an article reported February 29th, 2016 from the Associated Press, the administration of the school stated:  “We all have a right to freedom of speech, but students also have a right to be educated without fear. This has always been our policy, and we will continue to enforce it …”

On March 2nd and 3rd, many news sources reported about the Florida Legislature passing a bill (82-37) where churches don’t have to wed gays.  This portion was reported March 2nd on WSVN online: “Democrats said the U.S. Constitution already protects churches and that they can refuse to marry any couple, whether they are gay or not, based on their religious beliefs.

But Rep. Scott Plakon said the bill simply gives pastors added protection. He said he hopes it is never needed. The vote was largely along party lines, with most Republicans in favor and most Democrats opposed.”

Excuse me for being repetitious in my next comment.  I have officiated many marriages since July of 1976 when I became a notary, and many as an ordained clergyperson in near five years.  Never once have I been,  nor have I heard of any other clergyperson or religious entity  being, FORCED  to preside over a marriage I/they didn’t want to.  However there is clergy that has refused to join a couple if they have been divorced.  Nobody has said word one against that for decades.

In Florida, it has been over a year since same gender marriage has been legal, almost 13 years since it became legal in Massachusetts (2003), and almost a year that the Supreme Court ruled in favor nationwide.  Ever since, it has been a battle, be it under the mask of religious freedom, the “anti du jour” or just plain hatred toward others one may choose not to accept.

I am tired of being called various and sundry names, being told I am less than someone who isn’t like another person. Tired of being told I can’t be a Christian, but minister and be gay.  I am truly over it.

However, I can’t do the battle by myself.  Yes, there are groups and organizations who stand up for many LGBT causes, but it isn’t enough.

Early voting has started this past Saturday, March 5th and is available through Saturday March 13th.  For those who don’t early vote, Tuesday March 15th is your day to vote.

Yes, I am pushing voting again.  It is one way to speak out.  YOU ARE OBLIGATED to VOTE.

Other ways to speak out about things that involve your life – Facebook, Twitter, sending an e-mail to a specific official, candidate or any other person who makes decisions that can impact your life as an LGBT person and an ever day citizen.

If some of you spent even 1/8 the time that you do on social media, in the gym, a club or any other basic everyday thing in your  life and used that time to contact your elected officials to speak up and out, we just may have a chance to fight back.  If you choose not to, there is nobody else to blame but everyone who sits on the sidelines.  STOP BEING A SILENT OBSERVER and STOP LEAVING IT UP TO SOMEONE ELSE to fight for what should naturally be yours.  Stop thinking “it will never happen”, because tomorrow is a whole new day and none of us know what it will bring.  Remember, staying silent is harmful.

I leave you with this thought:  “Never take anything for granted because sooner or later the wheel turns.” – Unknown

Rev. Joel S. Slotnick is an ordained Interfaith minister and full time digital court reporter for the state of Florida. He can be found on Facebook and followed on Twitter.