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Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues – Equal Rights Not Special Rights for Gays

On October 6, 1998 two men took Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, about a mile outside of Laramie Wyoming. These men took him out to a split-rail fence, tortured him, then tied him put onto the fence, and left him for death. He was found late the next day by two bikers, 18 hours after the attack. When the bikers first saw Matthew tied to the fence, they thought that Matthew was a scarecrow, but realized that it was a person. Matthew remained in a coma until October 12, then died at 12:53 a. m.

Matthew always was a peacemaker he wanted gays to be treated like everyone else not as a minority. Matthew once said, “If I could get two people–one straight, one gay–who hate each other to be respectful of each other, I would have done something good” (Miller). He wanted homosexuals and heterosexuals to see eye to eye, which almost seems impossible. Homosexuality has been common in many cultures throughout history, but not always known. When it came about in society many religions thought it as sinful. As a result, being gay or lesbian was a crime, punishable by death.

In the twentieth century homosexuality took a turn around. As a result gay bashing became common in America. In November 13, 1986 on The Oprah Winfrey Show, a boy admitted that he and his friends hunted gay men down and beat them with baseball bats (Opposing View Points, “Homosexuals are an… “). It seems that this issue of discrimination of gays is too extreme. Society needs to know that homosexuals are fighting for civil rights, not special rights. They want to be treated equal in the workplace, in housing and in public accommodations.

In November of 1992 Colorado tried to pass an amendment against homosexuals gaining special rights. The purpose of the amendment was to deny homosexuals special rights, through any of Colorado’s state branches or departments or any of its agencies. When this amendment was passed civil liberties groups and gay rights groups around the nation called for a boycott of Colorado. Consequently, the state lost about $40 million in convention and tourist business. In 1994 the Colorado Supreme Court declared that the state’s anti-gay rights measure, Amendment 2, was unconstitutional.

Justice Anthony Kennedy states, “We must conclude that Amendment 2 classifies homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else. This Colorado cannot do. A State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws” (ACLU Briefing Paper, “The Rights of Lesbian… “). Discrimination in our country is unconstitutional under the First, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The Fifth, Fourteenth, and Ninth Amendments all state something about the right to privacy, and prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender religion and disability.

The First Amendment states freedom of speech and association. So how do states get away with discriminating against homosexuals? People argue that homosexuals behavior is what should stop them from being protected. Alan Keyes argues, “It is wrong to treat sexual orientation like race where discrimination is concerned. Race is a condition. Sexual orientation involves behavior” (Alan Keyes: On Homosexual Rights). Another argument is that gays spread aids, which is sooner or later causes death. It’s not just homosexuals that carry aids.

Aids can be carried by any man, woman, or child, no matter race or sexual preference. It could happen to anyone. Another argument against homosexuals receiving the same rights as heterosexuals is that they shouldn’t be considered a minority, like African Americans and Mexicans. The definition of minority is, “a racial, religious, ethnic or political group that differs from the larger, controlling group” (The New Webster’s Dictionary pg. 116). Homosexuals are a group and they definitely differ from heterosexuals. Homosexuals are denied jobs such as social work, clergy, teaching, armed forces, and many government jobs.

People should be judged on how well they work and not by their beliefs. Employers fear homosexuals will drive people away or they will molest people. Statistics show that majority of molesters are heterosexual men that are usually related to the victim. Other rights that they are ignored is that they can’t see a sick or dying partner in the hospital, they can’t claim their partner’s property after death, they don’t get custody rights, and in two states they can’t adopt children (ACLU Briefing Paper, “The Rights of Lesbian… “).

So exactly what is the purpose of denying homosexuals these simple rights? Denying these rights isn’t convincing homosexuals to change their sexual preference. It is funny how history is repeating itself. Years ago African-American existence was denied, their history ignored, bashing existed and discrimination took a big part of their lives. It is happening all over again but with homosexuals. Treating people fair seems to be a goal of the constitution. Instead America is relying on social norms not laws, to ensure that people are treated fairly.

Now one can see why seeing eye to eye between heterosexuals and homosexuals is so difficult and may never happen. That is not the main concern. Treating them fair is. Most people will agree being a homosexual is against our morals and is unnatural. But continuing to condone discrimination against homosexuals is getting society no where. Matthew Shepard died similar to the way that Jesus died except Matthew was killed because he was gay. It always takes someone dying to change the world.

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