By Bruce Christian, Oct. 9, 2014.

My parents taught me to never discuss politics or religion in public. While I like to write about both, discussing them — especially in a bar — only leads to arguments, hard feelings and even downright nasty exchanges.

That is what happened to me the other day when I encountered a proud, gay conservative. The problem is he has no tolerance for liberal members of the LGBT community.

The political disagreement regarding what has made Iraq so unstable could have gotten really nasty and boisterous. He took the view that the Obama Administration’s withdraw of U.S. troops led to today’s situation there.

I’m of the opinion that the Bush Administration’s ill-conceived occupation of Iraq and the overthrow of its strong-armed dictator who kept the country together, Saddam Hussein, fermented the situation and gave rise to ISIS.

In reality, it’s probably a combination of the two along with the overall centuries of religious intolerance and instability in the region. But the two of us never reached that point in our discussion, because I don’t tolerate name-calling.

Once his loud declaration, “you’re an idiot” was bellowed, I was through with him. I let him know the discussion was over. He stood at my table staring at me and tried to bait a response, but eventually, he gave up and returned to his bar stool, where he grumbled, mumbled and occasionally shot an angry glare my way.

After about five minutes, he returned and brought up his political beliefs to one of my friends, trying again to draw me back into the conversation. At this point the bartender asked him to leave.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve asked him to leave,” the employee said. “He’s always getting into arguments over his politics.”

It took me a long time to appreciate why members of the LGBT community choose to be conservative. I just couldn’t understand why people would embrace a segment of society that rejects them. After all, in its most simple definition, a conservative is “a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes.”

But there are some conservatives who provide good, reasoned arguments for why they choose to be conservative and reject liberalism, which is defined as “open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values.”

To their credit, LGBT conservatives choose to view the world beyond the rejection of marriage equality, employment nondiscrimination and other issues that are important to our community.

Many of these men and women have found ways to either live with or have found ways around the discrimination our community faces. While they are proud of their orientation, they simply believe other issues affecting their lives are more important. They believe their orientation should not be the sole reason to choose a political party or an ideology.

Instead, they make their political decisions based on their beliefs in:

  • how big and/or intrusive the government should be
  • whether federal, state and local regulations are needed or if they hinder their way of life or their business
  • taxes
  • federal or state control
  • how strong the military should be
  • or, my favorite — but the most illogical — their family has always belonged to the party, so they have to be loyal

Frankly, I love productive discussion with conservatives. I believe if they are willing to exchange their views and explain why they believe the way they do, I will be a courteous listener.

But I would expect they would be as open to my opposing points of view, without name-calling, yelling or closed-minded rejection. It is only through honest, debate that solutions to political issues are found.

It was through honest, respectful debate that “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed, that we are seeing marriage equality making the strides, and that employment non-discrimination will eventually be passed.

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