Home of the free, as long as you're straight
Published August 21, 2003

"I think itís very important for our society to respect each individual, to welcome those with good hearts, to be a welcoming country." President Bush said this at a press conference on the 30th of July. A moment later, he added, "I believe in the sanctity of marriage." Thus continues the war being waged against homosexuals in our country, a war that everyone says the gays and lesbians are winning. Are they? I wonder.

Bush is obviously not happy with gays. I understand he must cater to the more extreme elements of his support base, but I am sickened when I listen to comments like those Iíve printed above. How can our society respect each individual when some of them are treated as second class citizens? By saying that the sanctity of marriage precludes gays being involved in it in any way essentially says that gays are unclean, unworthy, not as good as the rest of us. This is unacceptable.

This country used to have laws about blacks marrying whites (known then as miscegenation), laws that assumed outright that blacks were not as good as whites. By the same token, many assumed that having blacks caring for white children would somehow be detrimental to the childrenís health, that being black--meaning inferior--would rub off on the children. All of these positions were equally dispicable, and we have come a long way since in accepting that these ideas are as ugly as they are insidious.

Now we can hear the same calls concerning homosexuals. Thanks to years of tireless work from those pursuing the so-called "gay agenda," most legalized descrimination against gays has been eliminated, but we are still a long way from truly being accepting of all the people in our society. Verbal and even physical abuse of openly gay people is common; not all of it may be said with malicious intent, but listen for a moment to some conversations among our children, and you will hear a litany of homophobic hate, whether conscious or not.

Why do we accept use of the derogatory word "fag" while making "nigger" anathema? Why do we let children use the word "gay" as a synonym for "stupid?" This is intolerance. This is abuse. There are no other words for it. This treatment would be unacceptable if applied to any other group in our country, whether black or white, Jewish or Christian. It absolutely should be unacceptable when applied to homosexuals as well.

All this brings us back to the "gay marriage" issue. The idea, recently raised by conservative legislators, to create an amendment to the Constitution barring gay marriage is not only about as useful as Prohibition, but about as repellent as Nazi laws requiring armbands for Jews. If we take the first step towards curtailing the rights of a group of our citizens, then where do we stop? People are contemplating additions to the Constitution, our most precious legal document and the enshrined source of all the rights that we enjoy.

In the past, we have used amendments to the Constitution to attempt to rectify the wrongs suffered by various groups: one to grant blacks--and eventually other minorities--equal rights under the law, the other to grant women the same rights. Now, we are contemplating the reverse, making sure that another minority will never enjoy equal rights. This is wrong. Let us stand up and tell our elected representatives that we will not have an America where we tolerate government descrimination. Let this be the true land of the free.