GAY ISSUES

Religious Intolerance

Discrimination against Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people; both by individuals and by government, as in the case of the military as mandated by Congress; is based on religious intolerance. We are persecuted because we do not subscribe to the dogma of fundamentalist Muslims, Jews and Christians that homosexual acts are sins. All of the other reasons put forth to justify this discrimination have been shown to be shams, covers for the underlying religious bigotry that continues, notwithstanding the numerous Christian churches and other religions that do not view homosexual behavior as sinful.

It is clear that fundamentalist Muslims, Jews and Christians are not content to require the obedience of their own members, but intend to force their rules on everyone, if they can. Each of these groups believes that, since they have the one true religion, it is perfectly reasonable for government policy and even the Constitution itself to be in complete accord with their principles. This is the necessary result of an absolute belief that they know the word of God.

Of course, if each of these is successful in its first efforts, demands will be made for the conversion of moderate Muslims, Jews and Christians and of people of other religious persuasions. Ultimately they well attack each other. It was to prevent this sort of thing that the founding fathers of these United States, did not create a Christian country, but a secular nation with strict separation of state and religion, so that we might have life, liberty and be able to pursue happiness each in our own way, free from the inquisition of any Church.

Homosexuality is immoral only for those persons who belong to churches that view the associated behaviors as sins. The rest of us have a right to our own beliefs. See Real Religion.

Some people believe that drinking wine is evidence of a poor character. Fundamentalist Muslims view this behavior as an abomination to the Lord. You probably drink a glass of wine on occasion. I don't think that you should be subject to job discrimination because you do (or do not) drink a little wine. Those who see this as a character flaw do so because your behavior is inconsistent with their religious convictions. However, it is not a relevant job qualification in most cases and if used to deny you a position would simply be religious discrimination in disguise.

Some people believe that eating pork is evidence of a poor character. Fundamentalist Jews view this behavior as an abomination to the Lord. You probably eat a pork chop on occasion. I don't think that you should be subject to job discrimination because you do (or do not) eat a little pork. Those who see this as a character flaw do so because your behavior is inconsistent with their religious convictions. However, it is not a relevant job qualification in most cases and if used to deny you a position would simply be religious discrimination in disguise.

Some people believe that engaging in a homosexual act is evidence of a poor character. Fundamentalist Christians view this behavior as an abomination to the Lord. You probably do not engage in homosexual acts. I don't think that you should be subject to job discrimination because you do (or do not). Those who see this as a character flaw do so because your behavior is inconsistent with their religious convictions. However, it is not a relevant job qualification in most cases and if used to deny you a position would simply be religious discrimination in disguise.

Former republican senators Gramm and Helms among others were fond of quoting Martin Luther King's words, that Americans should be judged by the content of their character and their abilities. Had their position on sexual orientation changed? Perhaps not, but it may be a positive sign that they found it necessary to disguise it.

Gay Marriage

Where marriage is a sacred institution, the state should have nothing to do with it. Each church should be able to do as it pleases

On the other hand, to the extent that marriage is a secular domestic contract between two people, there can be no justification for discrimination based upon the genders of the parties. Gay marriages are now legal in Massachusetts, Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands. Connecticut, California, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington have laws allowing either civil unions or domestic partnerships. Rhode Island citizens may get married in Massachusetts and these marriages are recognized in R.I. Hawaii extends certain spousal rights to same-sex couples and cohabiting heterosexual pairs.

Move to Massachusetts

States with constitutions that ban both same sex marriage and civil unions are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Utah, and Wisconsin. If you are gay or lesbian and live in one of these states of denial, consider moving to Massachusetts. Celebrate freedom in a state that does not practice discrimination.

Special Rights--Ordinary Rights

Social conservatives maintain that Gay people should not be deprived of their rights but should not be entitled to special rights. They should not be allowed to marry or form any relationship similar to marriage, such as, civil unions. Marriage, then, is a special right available only to heterosexual couples.

What distinguishes special rights from ordinary rights? What other special rights are there and what are the ordinary rights?

John Ashcroft, then Senator and later the U.S. Attorney General, was a sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act. In opposing the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, he wrote, "Thus, I will not support any legislation that would give preferences to individuals because of their sexual orientation."

However, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act did exactly that. It gave preference in marriage and related Federal benefits to persons with a heterosexual orientation and denied the same to those with a homosexual orientation. Arguing that marriage is defined as a, "… union of a man and woman as husband and wife," is similar to defining people of color as subhuman as a way of defending the institution of slavery.

He also supported preferences to individuals because of their sexual orientation with respect to service in the United States Military. Along with the majority in Congress he is responsible for the Uniform Code of Military Justice that gives preference to those with a heterosexual orientation in the expression of their sexuality. Some heterosexual behavior is legal and all homosexual behavior is illegal and punishable.

Thus, his statement that he opposed legislation that provided preferences to individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation is false. It could be that he thinks that only Bisexuals, Gay Men and Lesbians have a sexual orientation. Although I hope that he is not so ignorant; the alternative, hypocrisy, is worse.

The notion of special rights was invented by the radical right as a way to attack all forms of civil rights. It is a lie. The civil rights laws banning discrimination protect white citizens (European Americans) as well as black citizens (African Americans). They protect fundamentalist Christians as well as ultra Orthodox Jews. They protect men as well as women. If enacted to protect Bisexuals, Gay Men and Lesbians; they would protect heterosexual citizens as well, because they forbid discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation, neither establishing nor maintaining special rights for anyone.

What they do is take away the special rights that a minority (heterosexual, white, fundamentalist Protestant, men) has awarded to itself--a right of first refusal for education, housing, jobs and every other conceivable benefit. Those who have been the beneficiaries of these special rights do not like having their immoral and unjustified privileges removed.

Having It Both Ways in the Military

Three sections of the national Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994 amended the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The first provides that a person who has been found to engage in homosexual acts may be retained in the service if the Department of Defense finds that the behavior in question is not usual for the individual, is not likely to be repeated, and they wish to retain that person in the service. Thus, in a case of fellatio, the military may decide that one is a "homosexual" and be dismissed while the other is a "real man," who merely succumbed to praise for his anatomy, not knowing that allowing himself to be serviced is a violation of the UCMJ.

The second provision specifies that a person need not be separated for homosexual conduct when the Department of Defense decides that the acts were committed in order to avoid a hazardous duty assignment. This allows the military to continue its unstated, but historic, policy of using Lesbians, Gay Men and Bisexuals during wartime, while persecuting them in peacetime.

A third part subjects persons to separation from the military for saying that they are Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual, even when such statements are made while civilians and before entering the service.

None of this was new. The legislation passed by the House and the Senate was consistent with old Department of Defense policy as set forth in its Directive 1332.14. What was new was that now these cynical and dishonorable provisions can only be changed by an act of Congress or by the courts.

Some African-American members of the armed services have protested any comparison of President Clinton's ill-fated proposal to allow Lesbians, Gay Men and Bisexuals to serve with President Truman ordering racial integration. They say that, unlike their situation, "Gays in the Military" is a moral issue.

Indeed, components of the UCMJ proscribing certain sexual behaviors by consenting adults in private, are based entirely on the religious beliefs of selected churches, beliefs that are not subscribed to by all Christian denominations, much less other religious points of view. That is, the state has no compelling interest, and is forcing religious conformity so as not to offend a majority religious belief. As such, this creates a religious test of office, a regulation of religion, and violates equal protection guarantees of the Constitution, I believe.

Traditional Family Values

Do traditional family values call for rejecting Lesbian and Gay children? What kind of family discards its Gay and Lesbian bothers and sisters? What type of family banishes its Lesbian and Gay aunts and uncles? What sort of family dishonors its Bisexual mother or father?

How do you know that one of your granddaughters wont be a Lesbian? What sort of life do you want to provide for her? How do you know your grandfather wasn't a Bisexual?

Families in the United States and elsewhere are finding out that they do have Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual members. Many more people are coming out of the closet voluntarily or because they are sick with AIDS. For the most part, their families don't reject them. They are learning to reject government sanctioned and government sponsored discrimination, whether by employers, landlords, inn keepers, insurance companies or the government itself.

Only ten percent of the population is estimated to be Gay or Lesbian, yet the proportion of votes for Gay rights are far more than that, even in very conservative areas. In my opinion, the reason for the support is both simple and profound. Most people know someone who they love, care for, admire or respect, who happens to be Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual. The very idea of voting to discriminate against this person is abhorrent to them. Perhaps a person you love, care for, admire or respect just doesn't trust you enough to tell you, yet.

Some people, if asked, would say that if they found out that a friend of theirs were Lesbian, they would end that friendship, that if a child of theirs were Gay they would throw him out of the house. However, except for fundamentalist Christians, this seldom happens. Most people change their attitudes rather than reject a loved one. AIDS has proven this.

The Bisexuals Among Us

Then too, the number of persons with a bisexual orientation is much greater than the number of persons whose orientations are predominately or exclusively homosexual. That may be why so many men seem to think that being Gay is a matter of choice. Or why some think that homosexuality can be "cured." Men with slight to moderate homosexual feelings, because of their religious beliefs or cognizant of the opprobrium of society, are able to put those desire aside. Generalizing from their own experience, they find it hard to understand why others cannot do the same.

Bisexuality is as old as time. It was the ancient Greeks who gave us democracy and ideas of personal liberty including same sex relationships. These were celebrated in art, which may be viewed today.

One of the effects of the modern Gay movement, is that Bisexuals are increasingly unwilling to repress their feelings. There are many different patterns of bisexuality. Some have an early homosexual relationship followed by a heterosexual relationship in later life. Others have the reverse experience. Some alternate several times throughout their lives, depending upon the gender of the person they happen to fall in love with. There are those who have a primary heterosexual relationship, but engage in homosexual affairs. For some these are numerous and for others, rare occurrences. For some these activities are brief encounters, for others they are of variable or even long duration. Some Bisexuals only engage in homosexual activities in situations where the opposite gender is not available. Bisexuals may be over represented in particularly masculine occupations—police and fire departments, construction trades, truck driving, the military.

For political reasons, groups opposed to Gay rights want to deny or minimize the prevalence of bisexuality. Some people with an exclusively Gay sexual orientation decline to acknowledge bisexuality and prefer to see Bisexuals as closet Gays, unwilling to acknowledge their true sexual orientation or unable to make up their mind. Bisexuals are far less likely to make their sexual orientation public than are Gay Men and Lesbians. They are less likely to participate in marches, write to their representatives or engage in other forms of political action. But they know that they are affected by the same issues that confront those with a predominately homosexual orientation, and they are influenced by that fact. For all of these reasons, Bisexuals are systematically underestimated, and in more ways than one.

Why Republicans Should Support Gay Rights

The December 26th, 1996 issue of "Bay Windows" reported that Congressmember Jim Kolbe, Republican of Arizona, had publicly announced that he is a Gay man. He was quoted as saying:

"This is the best day of my life, really. I feel a tremendous burden lifted. It's a relief. I'm being totally honest about myself to friends and family. It feels wonderful."

He was reelected several times since. I suppose that most of the Republicans in his district voted for him. Obviously, these Republicans did not believe in discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Of course, that does not mean that it could not have been used against him if he had been a Democrat. That is one of the problems with this form of discrimination. A person can be fired for being gay, when it is really for some other reason that cannot be stated.

But what does he mean by the words, "tremendous burden?" He does not say. Is it really so awful to keep your job by hiding your homosexual orientation? Why don't you ask your friend, Jim Kolbe? If he still is your friend.

He has not said anything about entering a program to change his sexual orientation. He has not said anything about ending his sinful state through celibacy. Maybe he does not think that a homosexual orientation is either a disease or a sin. Whey don't you ask your friend, Jim Kolbe? If he still is your friend, that is.

One more point, as long as it is legal to discriminate against Bisexuals, Gay Men or Lesbians, you don't have to be one to be harmed. It is only necessary that someone think that you are. Some studies indicate that as many as four out of five people who are harassed for being Gay, aren't.

For more of Juan's comments go to Juan comments on the news .