I’m a supporter of LGBT rights. I’m generally not too vocal about it, but with recent events culminating in the Orlando mass shootings, I had to say something.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the LGBT rights movement recently. Hopefully this effort can be another step forward following the Civil Rights Movement, as we work towards equal rights and treatment for all.

The Civil Rights Act made it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, or national orgin. Setting religion aside for a moment, the rest are distinctions that generally lead to noticeable physical differences. The ease of identification is probably one factor that helped the prejudice spread so much, and led to instituational disenfranchisement as well as terrible acts of discrimination and violence.

Gay rights, though. There’s no real difference between gay people and straight people, transgender people and cisgender people. It’s just a preference; it’s how people feel. Why are we judging, discriminating, and even killing people based on how they think and feel? At this point an explicit anti-discrimination law is probably an essential step to stopping it, but honestly this feels like the sort of thing that we teach on posters in our primary school classrooms. It’s depressing that it needs a place in the Constitution of the United States of America.

I don’t know if every anti-LGBT person comes from a religious perspective, but I think many do. If you believe that the Almighty says it’s a sin for two people of the same sex to love each other, then that’s a tough thing to reconcile. I get that. It’s a tragic situation, and it’s going to be hard to work out.

But when it comes down to it, I believe that all major religions are centered around teaching love and respect. We can work together to make the world a better place, by cherishing our relationships with those around us. Religion can be a way to guide us, give us purpose, and achieve more than the sums of individual effort. That’s why I have no patience for those who twist religion to teach hate. We need it to stop.