From: Erin Hawkins
Having just finished reading The Republic’s front page story, “Over the Rainbow,” I am appalled to learn that there are individuals in our community who feel compelled, and astonishingly are not at all ashamed, to make public statements of intolerance against members of our LGBT community.
These prejudiced people don’t seem to realize the banner program on Washington Street is open for participation by any group. Pride Alliance paying for its banners to be displayed is nothing more than a simple advertising transaction and does not indicate that the city or any other group in the community endorses its organization. This is analogous to someone purchasing a roadside billboard. When traveling through many communities in our state, I frequently see billboards that are in direct conflict with my personal values. When I see them, I don’t feel like I’m being oppressed by the city in which the billboard appears, rather I understand that it merely reflects the values of the individuals who paid to have their message displayed there.
As the referenced article mentions, several years ago St. Peter’s Lutheran Church purchased banners celebrating the anniversary of its founding. I do not believe the Pride Alliance banners infringe upon the rights and values of those who oppose them any more than the St. Peter’s banners marginalized people belonging to other denominations, religions or nonbelievers, which is to say not at all. As someone who wants all people, residents and visitors alike to feel comfortable and welcome in Columbus, I was pleased to see the rainbow banners when they were first installed. It made me proud that our community is progressing.
The June 12 Republic also contains a letter from a man who is under the misapprehension that white, Christian men are a marginalized population. I am almost embarrassed for him that he is behaving as if he has been affronted by the mere existence of those who have differing values. That letter is followed by another gem penned by someone who doesn’t understand that a rainbow is nothing more than a phenomenon caused by the reflection and refraction of light in water droplets. I’m unsure why this letter writer feels his religious group is more entitled to appropriate the rainbow as a symbol than any other group.
I am disheartened having read such antiquated, bigoted sentiments in the June 12 paper. I thought we had come further than this.