DO “GAY RIGHTS” STORIES BELONG ON THE FRONT PAGE?

There were several letters to the editor today in the Star Tribune which suggests this is an important issue. The theme through out these letters is why is there so much attention being paid to these civil rights and discrimination issues where gays are concerned when there are so many other big news stories, like the elections, the economy, the war in Afghanistan, etc.

How long did it take for America to suffer through the cross burnings and the lynching of blacks before something was done about it? That was certainly a civil rights issue. How about the discrimination toward African-Americans in American life, separate rest rooms, banning of Blacks at hotels and motels, restaurants, and many other walks of life. They couldn’t qualify for education or employment because of the color of their skin. Many of you now are thinking, wow, this really happened in America? Yes it did and after many decades of the hateful institutionalized racism and discrimination, finally behind the strong leadership of people like Hubert Humphrey, Martin Luther King, Lyndon Johnson, and John Kennedy, the legal discrimination toward Black Americans came to an end. Does it still exist today? Of course. Many Americans of different color, national origin, religious beliefs, gender, and sexual preference are denied access to employment, housing, and education. It’s different now because it’s done covertly, though every bit as hateful and discriminatory.

Women in America are making very slow progress toward equality in American life. They are now compensated at an 83% rate of men for the same jobs. They can now vote, they can now buy and drink alcohol, etc. Stay at home moms are finally getting credit for the tough job they do have as a full-time mom and housekeeper. So the wheels of progress turn slowly.

Today’s headline making stories about discrimination, civil rights violations, and violence has now turned toward the LGBT community. The parallels are with Black American social injustice are scary. Now, instead of lynching gays, they are mercilessly bullied and intimidated to the point of them taking their own lives. Actual hands on violence does continue to gay Americans. In the news yesterday was the murder of a gay man in a bar in New York, word is, it was a gay hate action. How many of you remember Matthew Sheppard? He was the young man in Wyoming that was brutally killed by a couple “manly” type wackos who tortured and murdered Matthew. There was a short-lived public outcry against gay hate crimes. Soon after, however, America returned to business as usual where gay civil rights are concerned. Old homophobic feelings die hard. Could it be because the homophobes are generally pretty thick-headed?

Now as America moves forward, seemingly trying to ignore the injustice being put on the LGBT community, there is so much unfinished business to be taken care of. As a former employer, I know hiring discrimination is alive and well in America. How people so short-sighted and prejudiced get into these positions is kind of a surprise in the first place. But maybe not, their superiors are probably just as bigoted as they are! Anyway, where people of the LGBT community are involved, employers obviously don’t know shit from shine-ola. I have many many friends in the LGBT community. The common thread that runs through that part of America’s populace is how smart, poised, and educated they are. Any potential homophobic employer that denies giving any gay person a job really is stupid. In a New York minute I would hire them. It’s like I said, they tend to be considerably ahead of the breeder population in terms of intelligence, knowledge, poise, and ease of training in a new position. I speak in generalities about this, but it’s pretty right on. Unfortunately, many potential employers are still practicing hiring discrimination where gays are concerned.

The United States military still practices legal institutionalized discrimination by continuing the “don’t ask-don’t tell” policy where in the closet gays are concerned. This policy is actually a result of President Clinton trying to end discrimination toward gays in the armed forces. At the time, it was a step forward from what it was. But looking at the policy, it discriminates against people for being who they are and they have to stay in the closet to continue their military career. In the original policy adjustment to the “DADT”, it does state at any time circumstances change, “DADT” can be overturned and mothballed. So after 17 years under this policy, over 13,000 people in the military have been thrown out because somebody “found out” they were gay. On the surface, doesn’t that sound sophomoric and pointless? It is. So, because of this policy, over 13,000 dedicated persons in our military have been removed and most likely destroyed or greatly altered these people’s’ lives, not to mention their families lives as well. A poll of members of today’s military shows our personnel has no problem serving with gays. The Commander-In-Chief, the President, favors the end of this policy. Robert Gates, the Secretary of the Defense, is on the record of overturning the policy and Admiral William Mullin, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is in favor of the end of “DADT”. Just what circumstances are the homophobes holding up the policy change in Senate looking for?

Another boiling issue in America today is the discrimination toward same-sex couples desiring to be married. Most states actually bar this action in their laws. The laws were obviously written when homosexuality was held in the deep dark recesses of America’s psyche. Now, as society moves forward, gay couples want to marry and are blocked, except in a handful of states. Many states’ Attorneys General hide behind the argument that religious dogma is the backbone for the state denying same-sex couples from marrying. By the Constitution of the United States, there is such a thing as “separation of church and state”. Religious organizations are supposed to be blocked by law from affecting Constitutional instruments. Secondly, I have seen nowhere that marriage is a religious rite. It is a secular legal action that is in place solely for the government to know who is and who isn’t married. You’ll notice you can have as big and splashy church wedding, but the couple is not legally recognized as being married until the proper forms are submitted to the state. Now it has become a political issue, where politicians are being forced to opine one way or the other on this point. This is wrong, it does not belong in the political arena, it is for the state to amend its laws to accommodate to the wishes of same-sex couples wanting to get married in their own state. In Minnesota, five weeks before the mid-term election, the Catholic Church mailed out 200,000 DVD’s to its parishiners explaining why the church is opposed to same-sex marriage. This clearly was a politically motivated. I think if the church is going to be so actively involved in the election process, its tax-free status must be taken away. They were given tax-free status as a trade to keep them from influencing the governance of the country. This is an outrage, and I think it’s time for the progressive politicians to step up to the plate and go after the church.

Practicing discrimination against any person or persons is wrong, morally, ethically, philosophically, and legally. The parts of the laws of the land that still endorse discrimination need to be changed. The United States is the only major military power on the planet that discriminates against gays. Many countries around the world are now legalizing, even embracing same-sex marriage. So what makes us so smart?

Homophobes keep referring to homosexuality as a “lifestyle” or a “life’s choice”. I can’t see why a person would “choose” to put themself in a position to be scorned by the public, why they would “choose” to be bullied and intimidated, or why they would “choose” to be discriminated against in the job and education world, or why they would “choose” to put themselves in a life-long position of being potentially severely injured or even murdered as a result of hate crimes. Yes indeed, it is choice! A choice to live such a carefree life with no hurdles to clear. Wow! I really can’t fathom where people come up with the crazy idea that gays choose who they are.

That’s today’s story, an important one at that, and thank you for reading it and, as usual, I look forward to your comments.
Cam Obert

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4 Responses to “DO “GAY RIGHTS” STORIES BELONG ON THE FRONT PAGE?”

  1. Your brother Says:

    At least the Strib published that guy’s “lifestyle” reference last after the preceding letter had shot down that idiocy as you did! Good job!

  2. Linda Zambanini Says:

    Thanks, Cam. Good piece. Btw…use “sexual orientation” not “sexual preference” – it’s an old term that which conveys “choice”.

  3. chula Says:

    as a gay lezbian yes i think it should be on the front cover because if straight can why cant we?

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