Now that the Trump turmoil is done, let’s talk about equality

It’s been a while since I have sent a column to Dallas Voice. That makes me a little sad, because I really enjoy writing these columns, sharing thoughts and questions with the readers. If I can provoke thoughtful discourse, that’s a win in my book. The reason I’ve been on a self-imposed hiatus is because the Voice is published once a week; I would usually write down some thoughts on a Sunday, edit the piece after giving it some thought on Monday and send it in on Tuesday.

The trouble was, with Trump in the White House, I could write about his engaging in a conspiracy to overturn an election on Sunday, and by Wednesday he’d inspired a crowd of violent MAGA zombies to assault the Capitol!

And suddenly, just like that, a semi-well crafted column is old news!

It has been like this for quite some time.

Now that President Biden has taken office, many of us have been able to exhale, at least little. Inauguration Day featured me ugly crying happy tears on my couch. The nation is still sharply divided; there are a mountain of problems, and we are still near the high point of a deadly pandemic. But at least the guy at the top has some compassion and sanity.

Since his inauguration, I’ve yet to wake to a tweet of some ridiculous policy announced at 3 a.m.

President Biden seems to respect the truth, which has taken a beating over the last four years. The nation has been the proverbial “frog in the pot,” never fully realizing just how insane things were getting until the liar-in-chief got on a plane to Florida — where he will blend right in, by the way.

Still, there are a few things that have continued to perplex me; please feel free to reach out if you have answers.

First of all, we have a raging pandemic; 420,000 Americans have died. I personally know more people who have been infected than who have been vaccinated (and it’s not even close). A survey of some 6,000 Americans indicated that 83 percent understand that masks and social distancing can help prevent the spread of this deadly pathogen. (WTF are the other 17 percent thinking??) But a follow-up question showed that only 51 percent wear a mask when in crowded gatherings or out in public?

Then the corollary: Why is it easier to potty train a toddler than it is to teach a full grown adult how to properly wear a mask?

Every time I’m out (which isn’t often); there are nitwits wearing the mask below the nose. Is your nose magical? Does it prevent virus particles from attaching or does it not expel them when you breathe or sneeze? No, it doesn’t. You aren’t helping, and you just look ignorant.

Then there was the guy who wore the mask properly, then pulled it down to his chin, sneezed (!!) and then re-fitted the mask.

Now that Trump is out of office, the religious wing nuts are getting all riled up again. I’m not a religious person, but I have read the Constitution. And it seems to me that, in that document, both those who are religious and people like me are protected from discrimination, which is fair and correct. But saying people like me joining the U.S. Army or enjoying the protection of the

Equality Act are infringing on YOUR religious freedom is puzzling to me. Just what is your religion, anyway?

I remember when Katie and I got married. Representatives of organized religion (not all of them, but some loudmouths like Tony Perkins and our own Robert Jeffress) thought marriage would become meaningless with marriage being between “two men, two women, three men and a woman.” It didn’t and hasn’t. My being married to Katie hasn’t changed any other person’s marriage. Your free practice of religion remains on solid ground.

I read the Equality Act — all of it. Every word. The word “religion” is mentioned in two ways — as one in a list of protected classes, like: “race, religion and national origin.” The other time is when it says that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act can’t be used to challenge the rights listed in the Equality Act.

In other words, don’t discriminate. And if your religion requires you to regularly assault other American’s human rights, that’s a messed up religion. You might want to find another kinder, more compassionate religion. After all, when it comes to freedom of choice, the ultimate choice is deciding which religion you want to follow. You can even change your mind.

But that’s not so with your sexual orientation or gender identity. Being discriminated against because of those things is just plain wrong.

Freedom of religion is just one of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. It’s not above or below any of the others. It’s on an even par with free speech, free press and the right of the people to peaceably assemble.

So stop acting as if it sits atop all others. It doesn’t. It’s also as much about the government not establishing a religion as the free exercise clause is about practicing it. But there are prudent limits: If your religion involves human sacrifice, the government is going to want to have a word with you.

And if your religion is not about helping the needy but instead about judging others and discriminating, well then, your religion is one of the reasons we need the Equality Act.

You can believe what you want, but there have to be limits to your actions. And that is as it should be.

Leslie McMurray is transgender education and advocacy associate at Resource Center in Dallas. She is also a regular columnist for Dallas Voice. Read more of her blogs at