As the local readers of this column know, I also write a twice-monthly column for the Indianapolis Star, devoted to civil liberties and public policy issues. From time to time, I use that forum to comment on issues involving sexual orientation, civil rights, the recent Texas sodomy case, and most recently, the Massachusetts marriage decision. Whenever homosexuality is the subject, I can expect lots of negative responses–more often than not, anonymous.
I should be used to it by now.
As the local readers of this column know, I also write a twice-monthly column for the Indianapolis Star, devoted to civil liberties and public policy issues. From time to time, I use that forum to comment on issues involving sexual orientation—civil rights, the recent Texas sodomy case, and most recently, the Massachusetts marriage decision. Whenever homosexuality is the subject, I can expect lots of negative responses—more often than not, anonymous.
In my discussion of the Massachusetts decision, I quoted approvingly a portion of the court’s ruling to the effect that people hold widely divergent moral and religious views on the issue of homosexuality, and that it was not the job of the court specifically (or government generally) to take sides on religious questions. The job of the court is to protect the liberties of all citizens. I went on to argue that the real question is the proper role of government:
What is the role of the state in marriage? Should government decide that unions blessed by one church will be legally recognized, but those blessed by another will not? How do we justify the distinction? And how do we justify telling some citizens that they cannot be guardians of ailing partners, take family leave, legally parent a non-biological child they have raised, file joint tax returns, use spousal gift or estate tax exemptions, seek civil damages for the wrongful death of a partner…and on and on. There are literally hundreds of legal benefits that the state denies to unmarried citizens. (Those who are single by choice may also complain, but it seems especially egregious to deny equal treatment to those who are forbidden to marry.)
What I see as an obvious violation of equal protection and basic human rights is clearly not seen that way by others. A week or so after the column appeared, I received a letter at my office; from the envelope, I guessed it wasn’t fan mail. There was a sticker affixed bearing the return address, and proclaiming “Every fourth baby dies by choice. Say NO to abortion.” (Give them points for this—it identified the senders.) Inside was a copy of a letter to the editor, plus a handwritten note to me. More points: both were signed. On the other hand…well, let me just share a couple of paragraphs:
“Homosexuality is a bigger issue than religion. It involves our human nature. You don’t have to be a religious person to understand that two men having sexual intercourse is unnatural. Their bodies are not designed to do what they are doing.” [Gee—I know some fairly kinky things heterosexuals do, for which our bodies are arguably “not designed.”]
“Studies abound demonstrating the sickness of the homosexual lifestyle, but Kennedy is never going to tell you about them, nor are any of the pro-homosexual media, because they have no argument against such facts.” [If he agrees with it, it is fact. If he doesn’t, it is propaganda.]
“The truth is that homosexuals are people who have acquired an addiction to same-sex relationships because of an unhealthy early childhood… They are sick people.” [Tell that to all of us who have gay children! In our view, those whose hate prompts these diatribes are the sick ones!]
There was much more, of course—“statistics” about multiple sex partners, and glowing descriptions of groups that “heal homosexual persons.” A suggestion that I am either “an ignoramus” or woefully uneducated on the issue. And so forth.
Where do we start with people like this? Logic and evidence obviously won’t work—the writer scorns the “politically correct” American Psychological Association and studies suggesting a genetic basis for homosexuality, so he is clearly aware of that research. Like so many others in these politically polarized times—talk show personalities, political pundits—he simply dismisses as “politically correct” or flawed any study or expert who disagrees with him. His mind is clamped firmly shut.
It would be tempting to toss this rant into the circular file, but the last sentence is chilling: after citing the “studies” that support his description of gays as promiscuous and unnatural, the writer ends his letter by predicting that those “studies” will inform “the decision that America has to make on this issue. And those decisions are coming soon as we are asked to vote for or against the protection of marriage.”
As feminists used to say, the personal is the political—inevitably, people like the letter writer will work to turn their bigotries into law. And right now, they know they have a sympathetic ear in the White House. When our “Compassionate Conservative” President was asked for his position on gay marriage, he piously intoned “I am mindful that we are all sinners.” Isn’t that special? Bush is willing to forgive gay people for the sin of being gay. What a guy!
The lesson is clear: If gay Americans do not vote in record numbers in the upcoming Presidential election, they will be complicit in their own relegation to second (or third)-class citizenship.