Mention �gay� and �civil rights� in the same sentence, and
some people�s hackles go up. Yet most, if not all, of those same people have no
problem acknowledging -- and protecting -- the �civil rights� of every other minority. So what�s the
In a 2004 AsianWeek
article opposing equal civil rights for gays and lesbians, Rev. Raymond
Kwong argued, �We are sympathetic to true minorities. Gays
and lesbians are not a genuine minority.� By most estimates, the GLBT community
represents about 2-4 percent of the U.S. population. That would certainly seem
to qualify as a �minority,� at least according to a standard definition
of the term: �a part of a population differing from others in some
characteristics and often subjected to differential treatment; a group having
less then the number of votes necessary for control.�
As for �subjected to differential treatment,� University of
Chicago historian George Chauncey documented that in his 2004 book Why Marriage? The History Shaping Today�s
Debate Over Gay Equality. Homosexuals were barred from government jobs by
an executive order issued by President Dwight Eisenhower. They were also
routinely barred from other forms of employment, as well as housing. During the
height of the McCarthy hearings, more homosexuals were �weeded out� than
Gays were barred from many taverns and restaurants, barred
from public assembly, and barred from using the U.S. Postal Service to send
newsletters. Homosexuals had no freedom of speech and could be arrested on
simple �suspicion� -- behaviors such as �gesturing with limp wrists,� walking
�with a sway to the hips,� or �wearing tight fitting trousers� -- and sent to
mental hospitals until �cured,� despite claims by prison doctors that such a
thing was impossible. Homosexuals and homosexual themes were barred in films by
the Hays Code and from the Broadway stage by �padlock laws.�
Those who are currently demeaning, denigrating and fighting
to keep homosexuals marginalized and who use their faith-based rhetoric to
inspire others to make young gay men and women targets for violence -- �Homophobic
Bullying Drives Teen To Suicide,� �In Harm�s Way,�
Unsafe For Gay Students,� �Anti-gay
bullying under investigation: Harassment may have played role in South Florida
school violence case,� �Gay, Lesbian, & Bi Teens:
Students & Schools� -- focus exclusively on what is arguably
the most private part of anyone�s life, sexuality. Would it be fair to define
heterosexuals� rights and base judgments of their value, equality and
contributions to society solely on
Of course not. Nor is it legitimate to define homosexuals�
rights and base judgments of their value, equality and contributions to society
solely on their sexuality.
Heterosexual or homosexual, all American citizens should be accorded the same civil equality.
Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. made some pertinent
comments in �A reminder
that debate is about real people�:
. . . since Richard Nixon�s infamous �Southern strategy� of the
late �60s, his party has sought, won and retained power largely by encouraging
voters to ignore and deny the humanity of people who were not like them.
In Nixon�s era, it was blacks. In
Ronald Reagan�s era, it was blacks. And yes, in George H.W. Bush�s era -- call
for Willie Horton -- it was blacks again. Bush the younger has added a new
wrinkle: gays. Indeed, the Grand Old Party has some Middle Americans so afeared
that gays are coming to take their children away that one imagines the poor
folks hunkered down with a shotgun, ready to shoot at the first sight of a
rainbow bumper sticker.
Marginalized minorities make convenient
villains and scapegoats precisely because they are so easy to demonize and
objectify. When �gay� is just a concept, or �black� only an abstract, it
becomes easier to justify grotesque mistreatment . . .
We�re dealing with human beings, he
[Mr. Bush] says. For the record, we always were.
Every minority has had to fight for its legal rights and
civil equality. A citation in the Oxford
English Dictionary�s definition of �minority� is as relevant today as when
the word was new to American politics:
U. S. Mag. & Democratic Rev.
Oct. 3 Though we go for the republican principle of the supremacy of the will
of the majority, we acknowledge, in general, a strong sympathy with minorities,
and consider that their rights have a high moral claim on the respect and
justice of majorities.
�A high moral claim on the respect and justice of
majorities.� How ironic that feigned �morality� and overt disrespect are the
primary weapons -- indeed, the only weapons -- those who oppose civil equality
for the GLBT minority deploy to thwart the American promise of �liberty and
justice for all.� In such campaigns
against civil equality for the GLBT minority, Oscar Wilde�s definition of
�morality� is appropriate, although Aldous Huxley�s may be more to the point:
Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people
we personally dislike. � Oscar Wilde
Morality is always the product of terror; its chains and
strait-waistcoats are fashioned by those who dare not trust others, because
they dare not trust themselves, to walk in liberty. � Aldous Huxley
Trust. Can anyone trust those who advocate denying civil
equality to fellow citizens?
A May 1 Associated Press article
by Steve Lawrence illustrated the point:
SACRAMENTO -- State Sen. Sheila Kuehl
says a key aspect of history is missing from school textbooks -- the
contributions that homosexuals have made to California and the nation.
Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, has introduced a
bill that would fill that void by requiring textbooks and other social science
materials to discuss contributions that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and
transgender people have made to the state and nation�s economy, politics and
The bill also would prohibit textbooks
from criticizing people because of their sexual orientation. Current law sets
that standard for discussions of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender and disabilities.
Mr. Lawrence also reported on a group strongly opposed to
the legislation, a group notorious for its efforts to marginalize gays and
lesbians even further and deny them any
form of respect or civil equality:
Benjamin Lopez, a lobbyist for the
Traditional Values Coalition [TVC], an Anaheim-based group that views
homosexuality as an abomination, doesn�t
dispute the fact that gays have been discriminated against and have made
contributions to American society.
But he contends Kuehl�s bill amounts to
�social engineering and social indoctrination.�
�You�re talking about elevating a
practice, a lifestyle, and putting it on par with the struggles of blacks,
women and (other) minorities,� he said. �As a minority myself, that�s
tremendously offensive.� [italics added]
Mr. Lopez�s feigned �morality� and �not-a-minority�
arguments are as transparent as his specious reasoning. Although there is not
yet absolute proof that sexual orientation has a genetic and/or neurophysiological
basis, evidence is clearly mounting.
That aside, apparently Mr. Lopez is unaware that one�s �religion� is, without question, chosen.
People can choose
to be whatever religion they want and can choose to �practice� it as a
�lifestyle� with varying degrees of intensity. Lopez and his organization are
among the first in line to defend the civil rights and civil equality of those
practicing religious choices and expressions, as long as those choices and
expressions are in accord with TVC�s parochial socio-political dogma, that is.
Mr. Lopez and the TVC vigorously campaign to have �approved�
Christians� contributions to American society not only noted but underscored in
textbooks and every other venue. Yet TVC�s political lobbyist claimed
acknowledging the contributions of gays and lesbians would be �social
engineering and social indoctrination.�
How hypocritical. How irrational. But Lopez did even better
than that in relation to what Huxley said about �morality� and �trust.�
lobbyist agreed that gays have been discriminated against and have made
significant, important contributions to American society, but found
acknowledging that history
�tremendously offensive.� How could anyone trust -- much less respect -- the
judgment or reasoning of a member of a minority who fights to keep another
minority repressed and excluded?
Not surprisingly, a recent report
issued by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute documented
that legislators with low ratings on gay and lesbian equality issues also
received low ratings from organizations that promote the rights of people of
color, including the NAACP and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. The
rhetoric of America�s premier homophobe Lou Sheldon and
his Traditional Values Coalition
were duly cited in the
report. Why is made clearer every day.
On May 2, Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, founder and chairman of the
Traditional Values Coalition, fired off a letter to the president of CBS
television. The TVC headline read
�CBS & ANTI-CHRISTIAN GLAAD TEAMING UP: GAY & LESBIAN GROUP OFTEN
ATTACKS CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS.�
As usual, Sheldon accepts only those �Christians� who agree
with his fanatical dogma and ignores all the other Christians who don�t sign on
to his pathological campaigns against civil equality for gays and lesbians,
many of whom are themselves practicing Christians.
GLAAD is the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against
Discrimination. What CBS and GLAAD produced was a public service spot against
discrimination. But Abramoff
beneficiary �Lucky Louie�
didn�t see it that way.
�Broadcasting GLAAD�s message to your audience can hardly be
called �a public service.� It is more an affront to the overwhelming majority
of religious Americans whom GLAAD regularly calls �hateful,�� Rev. Louis P.
Sheldon wrote in a letter to CBS President Leslie Moonves.
No one personifies �hateful� more definitively than
Rev. Louis P. Sheldon: the man who after the 9/11 terrorist attacks argued
against giving aid to the surviving
members of gay and lesbian partnerships, many of whom had children, and the man
who suggested rounding up gays and HIV+ people -- presumably that would include
children -- and putting them in concentration camps he euphemistically called �cities of refuge.�
What other motives did Sheldon have for writing to CBS?
the very least, I believe CBS should apply an equal time standard to this sort
of activity. My organization, the Traditional Values Coalition, would be
willing to discuss some sort of message which would provide the balance lacking
from GLAAD�s anti-religious attacks.
Seems Lou was just looking for some free publicity to spew
more of his vile bile. His �anti-religious� comment is pathetic, but typical. Apparently Sheldon
believes civil discrimination is a �Christian� virtue and �civil equality� an
�anti-religious� attack. Even
conservatives have questioned Sheldon�s �ethics� and �motives.� Others also
saw TVC�s attack on CBS-GLAAD as just another
Fade in: An advocacy group with an eye
toward grabbing newspaper headlines is using a television commercial as its
latest target. This time, the culprit in the ongoing war against �traditional
American values� is -- cue the organ music -- a soap opera.
With melodrama reminiscent of the
television genre it is taking on, the Traditional Values Coalition denounced as
�propaganda� a public service announcement that aired at the end of the May 9
episode of the long-running soap opera �As the World Turns.�
Sheldon and the
TVC were, of course, outraged:
In spite of receiving more than 3,000
emails from TVC supporters who used our CapWiz email service, CBS ignored their
concerns and ran its Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) public
service announcement on �As The World Turns� on May 9.
The text of the PSA was designed to
promote the acceptance of homosexuality for teenagers. Those opposed to
homosexual sodomy were subtly linked to intolerance, prejudice and violent
behavior. The PSA said: �Every day people face rejection, prejudice and
violence . . . But you can make a difference. Send a message of support and
acceptance. Be an ally and a friend. Go to GLAAD.org.�
A whole �3,000 emails.� Seems Lou�s brand of bigotry is
loosing its punch as more and more Americans wake up and realize �Every day
[gay] people face rejection, prejudice and violence,� not only at the hands of
religious fanatics in America, but worldwide:
police �killed 14-year-old boy for being homosexual�
Human rights groups have condemned the
�barbaric� murder of a 14-year-old boy, who, according to witnesses, was shot
on his doorstep by Iraqi police for the apparent crime of being gay.
Ahmed Khalil was shot at point-blank
range after being accosted by men in police uniforms, according to his
neighbours in the al-Dura area of Baghdad.
Campaign groups have warned of a surge
in homophobic killings by state security services and religious militias
following an anti-gay and anti-lesbian fatwa issued by Iraq�s most prominent
Shia leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Ali Hili, the co-ordinator of a group
of exiled Iraqi gay men who monitor homophobic attacks inside Iraq, said the
fatwa had instigated a �witch-hunt of lesbian and gay Iraqis, including violent
beatings, kidnappings and assassinations.�
�Young Ahmed was a victim of poverty,�
he said. �He was summarily executed, apparently by fundamentalist elements in
the Iraqi police.�
is replete with those who thought they alone knew how everyone should be and
live, and what should govern �civil equality.� They always failed in their campaigns of discrimination and bigotry.