Only One Way To Treat Gays and Lesbians: With Respect
July 24th, 2011 will go down in history.
On this day, same-sex couples in the great state of New York will be welcomed with the same equality as their heterosexual counterparts.
On this day, same-sex marriages will be allowed.
The response was so tremendous that the city of New York had to introduce a lottery system so that the weddings of 764 gay couples would go as smoothly and quickly as possible. Twenty-four lucky couples will be able to wed in Central Park and Mayor Michael Bloomberg will also be participating in the festivities by presiding over the marriage of is two top staffers.
In addition, September 20th, 2011 will also be a history-making date.On that day, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy will finally be coming to an end. \
For the first time in its history, gays will be able to openly serve in the US armed forces without consequence. With the passing of proposition 8 in New York and the DADT policy coming to an end, we can finally say that America has come a long way to accepting the LGBT community as productive members of society. To put it another way, America is finally starting to treat LGBT people as people.
How far have we come? Consider that only six years ago, same-sex couples were not allowed to marry in any state. Consider the fact that before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" became law in 1993, LGBT people were not allowed to serve in the military at all. Consider the fact that California is becoming the first state in the country to teach Gay history in schools. Consider the fact that 33 years after Harvey Bernard Milk became the first openly gay man to be elected to a public office, J. Paul Oetken was the first openly gay man to ever be appointed as a federal judge.
I for one am happy.
For far too long, we have picked on, ridiculed, insulted and treated LGBT people as second-class citizens. In some parts of America, we don't treat them as citizens at all. All they want is to be treated fair and equal, which in my eyes, is every human being's God-given right.
But as we take two steps forward, it seems that we are also taking four steps back.
In a report issued by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence, hate crimes towards the LGBT community has increased last year. There were more than 27 anti-LGBT murders in 2010, second only to 2008 when there were 29 murders. That put 2010 as the second highest rate of anti-LGBT murders this decade. In total, there were 2,500 reported hate crimes against the LGBT community in 2010, an increase of the previous year. Why do you have to pick on, beat up, or even kill another person just because he or she is gay? What is the meaning behind that? I want to know what the hell people get out of doing that.
The bigotry in this country over gay people is stunning. Take Marcus Bachmann for example. You remember him right? The husband of president wannabe Michele Bachmann, Marcus was the one who described gay and lesbians as "barbarians" who needed to be disciplined and educated. Marcus also runs an anti-gay clinic and practice a controversial therapy aimed at turning gays straight.
But Bachmann was nothing in comparison to Anita Bryant.Don't know who she is? Ok, here is a little history lesson. In 1977, Miami-Dade County passed ordinance 77-4, the "Human Rights Ordinance", which outlawed discrimination against gay men and lesbians. Bryant furiously opposed the law, telling the Dade County commissioners on the night it passed: "The ordinance condones immorality and discriminates against my children's rights to grow up in a healthy, decent community". After the vote, Bryant organized the "Save Our Children" campaign, which was aimed at overturning ordinance 77-4.
In 1977, Miami-Dade County passed ordinance 77-4, the "Human Rights Ordinance", which outlawed discrimination against gay men and lesbians. Bryant furiously opposed the law, telling the Dade County commissioners on the night it passed; "The ordinance condones immorality and discriminates against my children's rights to grow up in a healthy, decent community". After the vote, Bryant organized the "Save Our Children" campaign, which was aimed at overturning ordinance 77-4.
She argued that Miami's gay community was trying to turn the city into the "hotbed of homosexuality" that San Francisco had become. She ran full-page ads in the Miami Herald showing collections of headlines about teachers having sex with kids, children in prostitution rings and homosexuals involved in youth organizations, all followed by the question; “Are all homosexuals nice? ... There is no 'human right' to corrupt our children."
The "Save Our Children" campaign became a national political cause, and only months after the passage of Miami-Dade County ordinance 77-4, it was overturned.
We could use "Save Our Children" for a different cause today.
In Minnesota, several current and former students sued the Anoka-Hennepin School District, saying that its policy requiring its staff to remain neutral when sexual orientation is discussed in the classroom prevents teachers from effectively protecting kids perceived as gay or lesbian from bullying and harassment. The policy came under criticism after six students committed suicide in less than two years.
Mary Bauer, the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the two advocacy groups that filed the lawsuit in federal court said: “This policy sends the message to kids that who they are is not OK.” To realize how sad this is, read what 14-year old Kyle Rooker, who is one of the plaintiffs, told reporters outside Jackson Middle School: "For the last three years kids have been calling me names and shoving me into lockers, desks, and walls, just because they say I am different." "It got so bad that every day when the bus would arrive at the school, I would want to hide under the chair so I wouldn't have to go to school, so I wouldn’t be called names or be pushed around and so I wouldn't have to hear the rumors other kids were spreading about me.”
"For the last three years, kids have been calling me names and shoving me into lockers, desks, and walls, just because they say I am different." "It got so bad that every day when the bus would arrive at the school, I would want to hide under the chair so I wouldn't have to go to school, so I wouldn’t be called names or be pushed around and so I wouldn't have to hear the rumors other kids were spreading about me.”
For too long, we have treated the LGBT community as people unworthy of decency and respect. We have to stop that. What’s happening in New York, California, and in the military are positive signs that we are moving in the right direction. As I mentioned earlier, all the LGBT community wants is to be treated fair, equal and respected. It is high time that we start doing that.
It has to get better.
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