Maybe it’s because I’m the mom of a gay man. Maybe it’s because my work tries to aid the progress of humankind. Maybe it’s the words “with liberty and justice for all,” or something about equal rights and the pursuit of happiness. But wait. What? Because “sexual orientation” isn’t listed in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a whole segment among us isn’t protected from discrimination?

Really? The Department of Justice found this 53 years later? Why now? What about 68-year-olds? Are they listed? Am I protected? Are we all invited to America’s banquet table? No? Ouch.

My whole life, I have been surrounded by “gays”: uncles, cousins, my son and their friends and mine. Truth is, we all have been, whether we know it or not.

Sometimes those gays are hard to spot when – like my son – they do what we all do. He put his arm around his sister’s shoulders at her wedding and urged her to relax and have a good time. My uncle cooked turkey on Thanksgiving and made pecan pies. My cousin plays golf. My friend folds her laundry and writes her grocery lists. Truth is, if we really know them – how they show up at work every day, pay their bills, just as everyone does – then the idea of “us” and “them” disappears.

In my heartfelt attempt at human kindness, what am I missing? Maybe I’m naïve. Maybe I need to go to law school, but I don’t get it. If, in our essence, we are all the same – which we are – then it’s our judgment that separates us, which fuels the trance of imagined difference.

Maybe I’m simplifying, but it seems to me that a good motto for those who would leave out a bunch of us might be “no judgment, no problem.”

Susan Lebel Young