Freedom Writer - August 1994
Responding to homophobic rhetoric
Right-wing opponents to civil rights for gay, lesbian, and bisexual
people use similar arguments and rhetoric around the country, whether
they're in Prineville, Oregon; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Knoxville,
Tennessee; or Anchorage, Alaska.This article includes responses, ideas,
and themes you may use to counter their erroneous allegations. Each
topic begins with the rhetoric used by the conservative right, followed
by some ideas on how to respond.
Homosexuals are already covered under the Constitution just like the
rest of us. What they want are special rights. We oppose special rights
The right wing rhetoric of "special rights" skews the issue. The right
to get and keep a job based on merit is not a special right. Equal
access to housing is not a special right. Renting a hotel room and
being served food in a restaurant are not special rights. The right
to have and raise children without the state seizing them is not a
special right. The right to walk down a street and not get attacked
because of who you are and whom you love is not a special right. Gay
and lesbian people want the same rights guaranteed to all American
citizens. However, without civil rights laws which specifically ban
discrimination based on sexual orientation, gay people can lose their
jobs, their homes, and their families and be refused service at public
accommodations simply because they are gay -- with no legal recourse.
Right-wing zealots who speak of special rights want the very special
right to discriminate against those they hate.
Local ordinances for gay men and lesbians force the rest of us to
live against our religious beliefs. We're entitled to our rights too.
Extending civil rights to one sector of society does not withdraw
rights from another. Most civil rights ordinances provide exemptions
for religious institutions. In addition, many gay and lesbian members
of various religious denominations are organizing within their faith
so that religious institutions may become more accepting of the diversity
of their following.
They want to be treated like a minority, like an ethnic minority.
The Supreme Court says they're not. And we know they're not because
they never rode in the back of the bus and they are not economically
deprived. Studies show that gay men have more disposable income than
the rest of Americans.
Gay men and lesbians are a numerical minority in American society.
Like ethnic minorities, we do face job loss, evictions, non-service
at public accommodations, and the loss of our children simply because
of who we are. And like other minorities, gay people face harassment,
physical assault, and murder based on an assailant's hatred against
us as a group. A Department of Justice study reported that "homosexuals
are the most frequent victims" of hate crime. "Minority status" affords
no benefits to anyone; rather it provides guidelines to attempt to
redress the inequalities that impair the exercise of constitutionally
guaranteed freedoms, including equal protection under the law. Our
constitution says that all people are created equal _ that must include
gay and lesbian people as well.
Homosexuals lead an abominable lifestyle. People who care about traditional
family values must not encourage the open expression of this sexual
Discrimination is the abomination, not gay and lesbian people. The
family values we uphold are support, love, understanding, and respect
between family members. Discrimination and bigotry are not traditional
You can't let gays near children; since they can't reproduce, they
recruit. And they are all pedophiles.
Statistics show that the vast majority of sexual abuse is committed
by men against women, usually within the heterosexual family structure.
Pedophiles are criminals who derive illicit pleasure from sexual abuse
of children, and whose adult sexual attractions are almost always
to members of the opposite sex. Most sexual abuse of children occurs
at the hands of parents or relatives. Lies perpetuate stereotypes
that are then used to deny gay people our rights. It is wrong to deny
rights based on these myths.
Gay people want to force their lifestyle on us and take away our rights.
Civil rights laws that include lesbian and gay people do not limit
the rights of others. Instead, they extend to gays and lesbians the
same rights already enjoyed by most Americans -- the right to obtain
and keep employment based on ability to do the job; the right to equal
access to housing; the right to raise their children; and the right
to live free of violence. There is no so-called "gay lifestyle." Gay
men and lesbians are members of every social class, religious faith,
ethnic group, occupation, and political affiliation. Gay people are
not interested in forcing anything on anyone _ just the opposite.
We demand the freedom to live our lives with the same freedoms are
rights that are accorded to all citizens, without fear that our liberty
will be usurped by far-right bigots and religious intolerance.
What about bisexuals? They sometimes pretend to be normal heterosexual
people, but they engage in the same abnormal, unhealthy sexual practices
as homosexuals. Bisexuals are getting AIDS from homosexual sex and
then spreading it throughout the heterosexual community.
Bisexual men and women live, work, and organizing within the gay and
lesbian community and in the larger human rights community. Lesbians,
gay men, and bi people are all targets of the same oppression, excused
on the basis that we value sexual and affectional relationships with
members of the same gender. The US Department of Defense "ban against
gays in the military" also includes those acting or identifying as
bisexual. Many right-wing initiatives, including Colorado's Amendment
2, target bisexuals along with gay men and lesbians in their petition
language and in the effects of their discriminatory legislation. Lesbians,
gay men, and bi people work together to oppose these attempts to legislate
against our civil rights. AIDS is the cumulative effect of immunosuppression
exacerbated by the presence of a virus (HIV) that critically impairs
the ability of the body to keep itself well. Viruses do not target
specific people or discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation
or identity. The prevention of HIV/AIDS ultimately rests with each
individual person's responsibility for his or her own actions, regardless
of sexual orientation, class, race, gender, or sexual identity.
Reprinted from Fight the Right, a publication of the National Gay
and Lesbian Task Force.
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