Tuesday, December 21, 2010

POLITICS - Equal Rights for Gays, Viewpoint

"After Fall of ‘Don’t Ask,’ Pushing for ‘I Do’" by SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, New York Times 12/20/2010


The Republican senator from North Carolina was blunt. “Because she’s a damn lesbian,” Jesse Helms snapped, explaining to The Washington Times why he would vote against Roberta Achtenberg, President Bill Clinton’s nominee for assistant housing secretary. Later, he clarified, calling her “a militant, activist, mean lesbian.”

That was in 1993. On Saturday, another North Carolina Republican, Richard M. Burr, stood on the Senate floor and surprised gay rights advocates by voting to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Mr. Burr said repeal was “generationally right” given that most Americans have grown up in a time where “they don’t think exclusion is the right thing for the United States to do.”

The two votes, 17 years apart, would suggest a kind of “We’ve come a long way baby” moment. But while public opinion has changed in favor of gay rights over the past two decades, those attitudes are often not reflected in public policy, because the views of lawmakers, polls suggest, lag behind the public, and not just among social conservatives who have long opposed elements of the gay rights agenda on moral grounds.

Polls show the public is broadly supportive of equal rights for gay men and lesbians on several issues — with the exception of the right to marry. The vast majority of Americans, nearly 90 percent, favor equality of opportunity in the workplace. More than 60 percent favored overturning “don’t ask, don’t tell” — a figure that has stood steady at least since 2005, according to the Gallup Organization, which tracks public sentiment on gay rights.

Yet the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, first proposed in the Clinton years, remains stuck on Capitol Hill, in part because lawmakers are squeamish about language in it that would protect transgender employees. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal bill nearly died the week before it was passed.

Same-sex marriage is even trickier for politicians. Fewer than half of all Americans support it, which puts even supporters of gay rights, like President Obama, in a political bind. Mr. Obama supports civil unions but has opposed same-sex marriage, although he recently said that “attitudes evolve, including mine” — a hint that he might change his position.

“There have been enormous and important shifts in public attitudes, and those are a hopeful sign,” said Tobias B. Wolff, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who advises the Obama White House on gay rights issues. But Mr. Wolff speaks of a “political gay panic,” saying, “Even when the public is so strongly behind equality, so strongly behind the right thing, politicians are hyper-cautious.”

NOT allowing gay marriage OR Civil Unions IS discrimination AND violates civil and human rights, and equal treatment under the law.

While ALLOWING Civil Unions but not gay marriage is a matter of semantics (the meaning of the word "marriage") and does not violate civil/human rights.

In my view is the anti-gay marriage laws are a violation of the freedom of religion. It is the imposition of religious-based beliefs on everyone by using the law-of-the-land, and unconstitutional. No one has the right to impose/force their religious beliefs on any other citizen.

No comments: