Apparently gays aren’t human, according to the state of Maine’s recent repeal of an anti-discrimination law. The voters in that state removed the legal accommodations for gays and lesbians which exist in 11 states currently. The direction that this recent repeal signals is toward creating a special definition of the gay and lesbian community with different standards than those for the citizenry at large, basically telling them they aren’t like the rest of us and therefore don’t get the same benefits. The basic human rights in question include Social Security benefits, access to government programs, veterans benefits, taxation and a whole slew of other rights — human ones that is.
The Christian Coalition and other fundamentalist groups couldn’t be happier as they attempt to define through law what they consider immoral. Their definition of a family does not include the freedom to marry by choice, nor does it include non-heterosexual couples with children. President Clinton is equally confused as to who is entitled to rights and who isn’t when he is signing into law the Defense of Marriage Act and at the same time advocating gays in the military.
The repeal of gay rights is an unconstitutional piece of legislation that would ban federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allow each state to ignore such marriages performed in any other state. The repeal is a form of gay-bashing. It is an abomination of America’s constitutional system of laws. The Bill of Rights affords all citizens equal protection. Because of Clinton’s marriage act and Maine’s anti-discrimination repeal, gays could be denied spousal federal benefits and suffer employment discrimination. Lesbian and gay couples with children are fathers and mothers, regardless of what Christian fundamentalists think is immoral, and without basic rights they and their children will suffer in terms of health and insurance costs and loss of benefits.
Maine’s Human Rights Act is supposed to protect against discrimination. It is odd that the struggle for equality needs to be a struggle at all. It is against not just the Constitution, but against the ideal of human rights that any state would repeal an anti-discrimination law. Religious fundamentalists can believe whatever they want as to what is sexually immoral, but it is severely hypocritical when such rights as Social Security or inheritance rights are denied. This doesn’t say much for religious freedom. It doesn’t say much for freedom at all — and freedom is supposed to be what this country is all about. But no one is free when they are denied basic human rights; it is a basic human right to marry whoever we please by choice and mutual consent.
It will be dreadfully ironic when pro-family advocates are suddenly faced with a child or relative — or even themselves — should they decide one day to come out of the proverbial closet. A word of wisdom to those Americans who wish the gay/lesbian community would disappear: Some foreign countries wish America would fall in the sea. No one is going to go away. And no one has more basic human rights than anyone else does.
It’s time this country gets its mind off voyeurism and, instead of being so concerned about who is having sex with whom, get to the business of creating laws that enable and not disable. The Maine decision is wrong and the implications are scary.