(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
(I originally submitted this article to Truthout.org, but, they declined to use it. I hope you enjoy it.)
For those that believe the fight for equal rights for homosexuals is different than the past civil rights battles of the Native American, African-American and women, I disagree. Every group, every person, that has had to fight for equal rights and treatment has endured its own history of intimidation, violence and murder without exception. It is no different for homosexuals and it is time to end the discriminatory practices against them.
Homosexuality has been a part of society since ancient times. The word lesbian is even derived from the island of Lesbos, the birthplace of Sappo, a female Greek poet that lived in the 6th century BC. Homosexual relationships in ancient Greece were open affairs as Maximus of Tyre, a 3rd century philosopher, wrote: “What else could one call the love of the Lesbian woman than the Socratic art of love? For they seem to me to have practised love after their own fashion, she the love of women, he of men. For they said they loved many, and were captivated by all things beautiful”.
Even though Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, likely written around 50 AD, denounces homosexuality as a sin worthy of death, the true vilification of homosexuality in society didn’t really begin until the 13th century when Pope Gregory IX’s Papal Inquisition to stamp out heretics was expanded to include “sodomites”. The demonizing of homosexuality is based solely on religious beliefs.
When our founding fathers stated in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” what they meant, literally, was “all heterosexual white men of land and wealth that practiced Christianity (in some form) are created equal”. In order to vote, you had to be a white male over the age of 21, be a land owner, and in some areas have a certain amount of wealth. Discrimination against everyone else was wired into the very fabric of our society. Slavery was considered a right. Native Americans were considered savages to be converted or destroyed. Women were second-class citizens whose only function was to have children, cook, and clean house. And, while homosexuality was the “dirty little secret”, sodomy laws, originating in Medieval Europe, were enacted in the United States as far back as 1776.
Keeping the power of government in the hands of the elite white male was not just a goal, but, a right that was voraciously defended. John Adams wrote in 1776: “Depend upon it, Sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end to it. New claims will arise; women will demand the vote; lads from 12 to 21 will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level.”
The right as a citizen to vote isn’t the only right guaranteed to all citizens in our Constitution, however. It also guarantees every citizen equal treatment under the law. In 1963 with the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women finally gained the right to earn the same wage as men for doing equal work. It wasn’t until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 that African-Americans gained full protections under the Constitution. It took the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 before disabled Americans were granted fair treatment and access under the law. It is now those who are homosexual fighting for their rights.
Being an American citizen is the foundation of who can or cannot enjoy the rights granted by our Constitution. Because of this, the Supreme Court has continuously considered the question of who was a citizen of the United States. In the ruling of Minor v Happersett in 1874, the court ruled: “For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts. It is sufficient for everything we have now to consider that all children born of citizen parents within the jurisdiction are themselves citizens.” This ruling was upheld in the ruling of US v Wong Kim Ark in 1898 when the court stated: “The constitution nowhere defines the meaning of these words [citizen and natural born citizen], either by way of inclusion or of exclusion, except in so far as this is done by the affirmative declaration that ‘all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” Yet, the attempt to deny American citizen’s the rights afforded to them continues.
In 2003, the Supreme Court heard the case Lawrence v Texas. In a landmark ruling, the court held that intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, thus invalidating sodomy laws whose only purpose had become to persecute homosexuals. This was a major victory for the gay rights movement, but, it hasn’t stopped the discrimination from occurring in other areas.
Donald Altshiller wrote in his book, “Hate Crimes: a reference handbook”, that in 1988 a Florida judge, trying a case concerning the beating to death of a gay man asked the prosecutor, “That’s a crime now, to beat up a homosexual?” The prosecutor responded, “Yes, sir. And it’s also a crime to kill them.” “Times have really changed,” the judge replied.
Times may have changed, but, they haven’t changed enough. Marine Corps’ commandant Gen. James Conway stated not a few months ago that if gays/lesbians are allowed to serve openly he would force them to live in separate barracks. The real threat made by Gen. Conway was that if gays/lesbians are allowed to serve openly the military leadership would do all it could to discriminate, harass, and persecute homosexual military members. This is the same mentality that was exhibited by military leadership when women were allowed to attend the service academies in 1976. This “make it fail” mentality is what has led to the continued hazing, sexual harassment, abuse, and rape of women who serve in our military.
To be clear, this need by some to discriminate and deprive other people of their rights as citizens is based in racism, bigotry, hatred, and the need to feel superior to someone else. It is about justifying the use of intimidation, abuse and violence by claiming “this group” would destroy society in some way. Homosexuals are simply the latest group to be demonized, to be deprived of their rights as citizens, to be hunted down and murdered in the name of God, all in the name of a supposed superiority that someone believes they have over another person.
The practice of an employer firing a person for simply being a homosexual continues. A man in Tennessee is suing his employer for firing him solely because he was a homosexual. “They literally said to me that because of my orientation and my ‘alternative lifestyle’ that I was not a fit for the hotel,” said David Hill, formerly the director of human resources for the former Brentwood Holiday Inn. The hotel’s owner, Turan Suti, is quoted as saying, “I don’t give a damn. They can sue me. I will not have any of ‘the gay leadership role’ in my hotel.’ And that’s a quote.”
Honorable men and women, such as Lt. Dan Choi, are still being removed from the military despite their valuable service to their country simply because they are homosexuals that refuse to live in the shadows and be denied the rights they deserve. In a true twist of irony, a conservative group of military chaplains held a press conference stating that the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy would lead to a max exodus of “Orthodox Christian chaplains” because it would jeopardize their hiring and advancement opportunities. The group is quoted saying, “If chaplains are forced to council same sex couples or are limited in the moral teachings that they can present, you can look for Orthodox Christian chaplains to exit the military, leaving an insurmountable void in the fostering of an environment that ensures that the men and women who wear the uniform are in their best mental, emotional and spiritual condition necessary to defend the nation and the ideals that they represent.” Because, you see, having to council military members that are in same-sex relationships is bad and infringes on their rights, but, denying homosexual military members their rights is good.
If being intimidated, assaulted, beaten, murdered, and deprived of their rights wasn’t bad enough, homosexuals have to face the bigotry and hatred of their own families and parents. When they finally find the courage to be open about their sexuality, many find themselves disowned and disavowed by their own mothers and fathers. This is something no other group that has fought for their rights, their protections, has had to endure. I have seen, firsthand, families become divided simply because a family member admitted they were homosexual. I have witnessed individuals be ostracized, disavowed and disowned by their own mothers and fathers who claimed, at one time, they would always love their child no matter what.
It is time for the discriminatory practices to end. All men, and women, are created equal. That is our Constitution. That is what is guaranteed to every American citizen. That our government and our courts must repeatedly affirm this most basic of concepts time and time again, as each new group is denied their rights, is a travesty. That there are those who hold leadership positions, in our government, in our military, that continually fight this most basic of American concepts should not be tolerated by anyone that considers themselves an American and a citizen. That homosexual’s are denied their rights based solely on religious beliefs simply makes a mockery of our Constitution.