Holland, Michigan, a postcard perfect small city on Lake Michigan’s Eastern Shore is the latest city where the battle lines are drawn on the issue of discrimination against homosexuals. The city, nicknamed “Tulip City” for its lavish flower gardens resembling the town’s namesake, Holland (as in the Netherlands) originally settled by Dutch Calvinists, has a population of 35,000. City authorities sought to pass a simple ordinance banning discrimination due to sexual preference or gender identity, what has become an accepted practice through out much of the country. The opposition in this case is fighting the measure with especially spirited zeal backed by the Family Research Council and allegedly Request Food, a local company, whose CEO, Jack DeWitt, has been outspoken on such subjects. Meanwhile, as the measure advances through the city's legal system, similar ordinances are already in place in nearby cities Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids.
The advertisement is printed under the banner, “Is Homosexuality a Civil Rights Issue?” then go on to proclaim, “Pro-homosexual activists want you to believe so. They want Holland to give homosexuals special protections under employment discrimination laws.”
Where are the “special protections?” The proposal addresses forbidding discrimination. They then go on to assert it is not a matter of civil rights arguing, “Most civil rights lawsgrant protections based on characteristics that are inborn, involuntary, immutable, and innocuous (race, color, national origin, and sex) or protected in the Constitution religion). None of these is true of the choice to engage in homosexual behavior.”
Their inference is clear; homosexuality is a choice reflective of some clearly unacceptable values and motives. They then attempt to present a series of popular “myths” concerning homosexuality and refute it with what they claim to be “facts.”
The myths they cite are:
-People are born gay.
-Sexual orientation can never change.
-Ten percent of the population is gay.
-Homosexuals do not experience a higher level of psychological disorders than heterosexuals.
-Homosexuals are seriously disadvantaged by discrimination.
We are not going to go into a big long dissertation on the difference between fact and opinion or decry why so little of the public knows the difference. (Hint – poor public schools incapable of teaching critical thinking skills...) Likewise, we’re not going to provide all the information concerning the validity of these so-called myths much less offer points of debate against the so-called facts Family Research Council. Most of them speak for themselves and embody the very essence of the kind of kind of thinking which justifies anti-gay bigotry.
Why should this discussion ever go any further than why is the private conduct between two consenting adults anyone else’s business? Could anything be a more basic civil right than that? For those who’d argue that hiring homosexuals could create a distraction around the workplace, what would a homosexual do that could rival the distraction of a scantily clad female program in a low cut top or short dress or skirt? Of course, we’ve heard the self-established he-man types talk about what they would do to some “faggot” if one ever made an advance on those guys. Hmm, none of them seem to ever convince anyone else such an advance ever took place. It seems like observation would reveal most such advances are heterosexual white men “hitting on” women they find attractive.
For folks who throw up their hands and don’t know how to weigh in on this subject, in their day to day experience what is more frightening than the virulent expression of anti-homosexual prejudices – loud and boisterous “gay bashing.”
While it might be very difficult for a person to understand another person’s sexual preference than that of his or her own, isn’t the overriding virtue to “live and let live?” We must also ask ourselves how much of person’s private life is another person’s business. Surely, there is much about homosexuality we do not understand. There’s plenty about heterosexuality that is a mystery too. Perhaps some of it is part of our society’s subconsciousness based on some Puritanical heritage.
While the debate on same-sex marriages will surely continue on many levels, we’re long past the stage where a person should ever be denied the fruits of society or employment on the basis of sexual preference.