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    Faith and Love

    1-Photo-RebeccaKaplan(1)In recent weeks, several states and national Republican leaders have been pushing for laws and policies to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people—and to discriminate against other historically marginalized groups, such as religious minorities. They claim these efforts are for the purpose of protecting religious freedom. The advocates for these efforts are saying that faith and love are incompatible, and that the only way people can practice their own faith is by oppressing others.

    This is a sad and wrong-headed depiction of what it means to be a person of faith, and all people of conscience should be prepared to oppose and denounce these efforts wherever they pop up, whether in Indiana, where a massive push-back occurred, or most recently as proposed by Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana. The stereotype that people of faith and LGBT people have opposing interests is destructive and untrue and, of course, also ignores the reality of the existence of millions of LGBT people of faith.

    In fact, one of the most repeated lines in the Bible is: “Do not oppress the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Numerous faith teachings over thousands of years have focused on the importance of treating all people with respect, and honoring all of humanity as being made in the “image of the divine.” It is important that people, whether they are of faith or not, recognize and condemn this type of religious manipulation whenever and wherever it occurs.

    In fact, there are real and important examples, in the United States and elsewhere, of people being oppressed for their religion, and it is insulting to claim that is going on where it is not. Native Americans have faced ongoing struggles to have their rituals protected from discrimination and laws that were designed to wipe out their faith practices.

    Religious minority groups, including Jews and Muslims, have faced hatred and prejudice in this country. Oppression of people of faith is something that has occurred, and which some still struggle against, and it is an insult to those efforts to suggest that the arena in which religious discrimination is taking place is towards the LGBT community, when LGBT people are provided equal rights under the law.

    Let us stand clearly both for LGBT rights and for the rights of people of faith to live in dignity and respect. We can teach and show that faith and love are compatible, and that my rights do not depend on taking away those of another.

    Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide councilmember. She was re-elected in 2012 and serves currently as Vice Mayor. She is working for safe neighborhoods, for local jobs and for a fresh start for Oakland. Vice Mayor Kaplan graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtained a Master’s degree from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School.