Gay vs. Straight?
WHY ARE GAY RIGHTS NECESSARY?
Lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people continue to face a great deal of animosity due to ignorance, fear and bigotry. This is homophobia—the irrational fear or hatred of homosexuals.
Gay rights are central to the continuing defense of individual liberty in the United States. An excellent book on this subject is attorney Michael Nava and history professor Robert Dawidoff’s Created Equal: Why Gay Rights Matter to America. In the book, Nava and Dawidoff argue that American citizens who happen to be gay are first and foremost citizens of this country. And as such, they are entitled to the same rights afforded to every individual American citizen under the Declaration of independence and the Constitution. To abridge the citizenship rights of gay people will not only affect the fate of gays, but the future of the constitutional principal and the rights of free individuals in American society. The basic arguments that Nava and Dawidoff make in the book are:
- The purpose of the US constitutional government is the protection of individual rights.
- Gays and lesbians, as American citizens, are entitled to the exercise of these rights.
- Demonstrably, gays and lesbians are denied free exercise of these rights.
- The grounds for denying gay rights are rooted in ignorance.
- The organized opponents of gay rights, who exploit ignorance and bias, would substitute sectarian religious morality in place of constitutional guarantees that allow individuals to determine how best to live their lives.
- The anti-gay rights forces are using the issue of rights for gay people as a test case to promote a broader agenda, the purpose of which is to limit individual liberties in the country.
These are among the issues we must consider when trying to understand how failure to extend equal rights and protections to glbt people will effect the civil and political rights of all Americans, homosexual or heterosexual.
- Does legislation that effects lesbian parental rights have legal ramifications for the parental rights of heterosexual women as well?
- Does the right of gay men and lesbians to adopt children or become foster parents, either a single adults or as a couple, have an impact on heterosexual rights in these areas?
- Does hate crimes legislation that includes protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people also protect heterosexual people?
- Does legislation that protects gay people from discrimination in the workplace and in housing protect non-gays, too?
- Do legal prohibitions against sodomy have consequences for heterosexuals?
- Does gay marriage or domestic partnership legislation have legal ramifications for heterosexual people?
Exerpted from All God's Children: A Discussion Guide by Sylvia Rhue, Ph.D. & Linda Alband.
Copyright © WomanVision, 1998. Used with permission.
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