By the end of this month, the Supreme Court of the United States will hand down its decision that will determine whether or not same-sex couples have the same fundamental right to marry that opposite-sex couples enjoy. To date, 36 states have full equality (37 if you include Alabama – which apparently exists in the twilight zone for the moment). This means more than 75 percent of Americans live in a state where their gay and lesbian neighbors can enjoy the same marriage rights as everyone else.

Interestingly, those who oppose equality do not have any real vested interest in the issue. They just don’t want gays to marry. The only people who are truly affected by marriage equality are people who would be able to marry their same-sex partner instead of existing in the legal limbo of technical strangers. Families in such households would be strengthened. But the stalwart anti-gay rhetoric continues.

“There is no gay gene,” some say. Which is particularly interesting because those who obstinately point to the lack of concrete genetic scientific evidence of a “gay gene” also reject science on a number of other issues, including evolution, climatology, geology, and anthropology. But suddenly they point to science (or the lack thereof) to support their anti-gay bias.

“Being gay is a choice,” they insist. No. The only choice an LGBT person makes is whether or not to be honest with themselves and everyone around them. Even the unethical practice of conversion therapy acknowledges what they call “unwanted same-sex attraction,” which points to the obvious fact that being gay is not a behavior; it is an orientation that we no more chose than we chose whether to be left- or right-handed.

I’ve heard several local pastors and other evangelical leaders insist that they know people who have changed their lifestyle, and as such, it means that gays do not deserve full equality. Because they can change.

I’ve interviewed people who were heavily involved in conversion therapy and “ex-gay” ministries, including former leaders John Paulk, Michael Bussee and John Smid. These were people who were on the national scene, and every single one of them confirm that not a single person was actually changed during their tenure in ministry — not even themselves. They’re still just as gay as the day they started. All of them. Others who have recently shaken off the chains of a “straight” charade include former Exodus leaders Randy Thomas and Alan Chambers.

Being gay is not a choice. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s not an abomination. Those who continue using such rhetoric are passing on dangerous language to teens and adults who buy into this kind of self-loathing rhetoric and take it deep to heart as I once did.

I cried myself to sleep for years praying that God would make me straight, and it became a great internal battle during my young adult years. Obviously, it seemed, that I didn’t have enough faith. I wasn’t good enough.

Thankfully, I have released myself from the shackles of such hateful rhetoric and embraced the reality that being gay doesn’t have to have a reason for being — it just is. Christian leaders across the country are now calling for full inclusion for LGBT people, just as families are recognizing and loving their LGBT children as the beautiful souls they are.

There’s only one real choice when it comes to LGBT equality – and that’s whether or not we’re going to love people as people and stop telling gays that they’re not good enough. Because we are.

Note: This article appeared in a slightly different form in The Leaf-Chronicle.