Gay is Not The New Black

Karol Collymore

Like most of the folks who blog on Blue Oregon, I dabble a bit in the world Oregon politics. I get to meet wonderful people whose main interest and drive is to help other Oregonians succeed. Politicians – usually White males – want to help every person get better education, more accessible health care, improve the economy, and oh yeah, equal rights for the GLBT community.

It’s wonderful, it’s exciting, and it’s historic that so many dominant males would like to see equality given to the GLBT community – welcome to 2006, gentlemen. However, lately it seems the knee-jerk reaction to why these politicos support GLBT rights is because it’s “civil right movement of this generation.” That’s the point where my hairs stand on end and my breath gets caught in my throat.

The GLBT movement is indeed a struggle for the basic rights that are deserved because of the Constitution. Laws need to be fully enforced by government, not changed by radical conservatives. Shame, shame, shame on you, Yes on 36 crowds. Only Americans calling liberals un-Americans vote bigotry into our state’s Constitution. The GLBT movement, however, needs to be taken up independent of the 1960’s civil rights movement for several reasons, but here are two.

There is an argument – with which I agree – that the civil rights movement, lead by Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, has not seen all of its dreams truly accomplished and it’s a movement that is still continuing. The need exists for a refreshed movement among Blacks that picks up where the funerals of our leaders left off. One look at the poverty in the South makes clear that millions of Blacks were left behind and that legacy is continuing on with their children and their children’s children.

Secondly, politicians should be expected to come up with a more creative answer than the “civil right movement of this generation.” There are reasons that questions are asked about racial justice (including issues of immigration) separately than questions about justice for the GLBT community. The GLBT movement deserves to be seen in its own light with its own accomplishments. The work done in the last decades has earned a right to be a separate equality movement. Just like all scandals don’t need a “gate” at the end, all struggles for justice don’t need a 60’s reference.

As a Black woman and a dedicated straight ally, I’d like better responses to both issues before I vote for you. Also, showing a little knowledge on both subjects - or admitting a lack thereof - would help as well.

  • mconley (unverified)

    I thought gay was the new "abortion," given its being trotted out every two or four years to incite the wingnut base of the Republican party and rally them to the polls...

    I agree that race is still such an important issue in this country that the battle for that kind of equality is still going on and deserves its own place in our rights history. I'll be happy when both African-Americans and gay people can walk down our streets nationwide and not have to worry about getting beaten up.

  • JHL (unverified)

    Karol -- I could be wrong, but I've only ever heard one politician call gay rights the "civil rights movement of this generation." Ben Westlund.

    Haven't heard Ted say it... or act like it. Certainly haven't heard Ron say it.

    But what I find more disturbing than the choices in the race is the fact that the candidate who actually worked the hardest for gay righths last session is being taken to task on a simple issue of rhetoric. By a BRO staffer.

    Two of the last three BlueOregon threads are hitting Westlund on issues of word choice. (Scraping the bottom of the barrel for something to hit him on?) Well, the Dem line right now seems to be to say that Westlund won't make the ballot... but these pot-shots tell a different story altogether.

    Incidentally, Westlund's SB 1000 speech is on his website right here.

  • Kija (unverified)

    I agree that the African American community has not won full equality in American society. Serious barriers to voting rights, employment rights, education and full participation in society remain.

    However, are you trying to claim the Civil Rights as a proprietary term for African Americans? The Women's Suffrage moment was a civil rights movement and women stil have not won their full rights in society. What about other people of color and immigrant communities? Can there not be an immigrant civil rights movement? I hope I am misinterpreting your meaning because if you mean what I understand you to mean, you are so, so wrong.

    We all have what should be inalienable rights -- and our struggles to achieve the full realization of those rights are civil rights struggles, and no group should sit in standby waiting for another to finish its struggle and no group can claim to be THE civil rights struggle.

    The African American civil rights struggle didn't begin in the 60's and won't end for decades to come. However, civil rights struggles ebb and flow, rising in saliency and falling back into obscurity. The gay civil rights struggle is more salient right now and it IS a civil rights struggle.

  • (Show?)

    Many, many, many people make reference to gay rights equal to the civil rights movement of the 60's. Watch any TV talking head program on a Sunday and its the catch phrase of all time. You'll also see African Americans bristling over the comparison. I should have written about it the first time I heard the phrase, but I've heard it so much recently that I had to share openly.

    I do think that GLBT right are a civil rights issue, but should not be compared to the the Black movement - it does disservice to both and does not give enough credit to the strides made by the GLBT community to form their own movement.

    Westlund was a strong champion for senate bill 1000. I wish more of his party at the time were strong enough to acknowledge the imparative nature of the bill. I wish Dems had been as well. I believe the his fight for GLBT rights will continue. Third party races are always great to watch, I can't wait to see how it pans out. In the meantime, we are discussing the value of IDing civil rights struggles for what they are, whether it be women, people of color or the GLBT community. And whether politicans running for house, senate or otherwise should be held accountable for knowing their stuff...

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    Karol, I think the reason you see so many liberals and progressives use the 60's civil rights movement as a metaphor for all such struggles is relatively obvious - Americans largely agree now that racism was and is wrong.

    That is important because we can draw on that experience as a moral backstop. Hate filled bigotry is remarkably seductive to many Americans, so one of the best ways to get them to reject it is to call attention to the fact that they rejected it before.

    So don't be offended by the GLBT leaning on the partial victories in 1960s. Instead, you should be flattered. The gift of Martin Luther's dream just keeps on giving.

    Finally, I completely reject the idea that civil rights movements are somehow stronger separately than they are together, working for each other. Ben Franklin put it best: "We'd better all hang together, or assuredly we'll each hang separately". As the family of Matthiew Sheppard and the children of lynching victims can attest - those words are as cogent today as they were when he said them.

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    Continuing on Steven's line, in my opinion, it's all one battle. The civil rights battle isn't just about one minority; it's about all minorities, and it won't be over until every human being is treated equally by each other and in the eyes of the law.

    I think another (valid) reason for the comparison between GLBT civil rights and African American civil rights is because the marriage issue makes for such an obvious comparison. In the 50s interracial marriage polled almost identically to gay marriage today. I haven't seen any polls on interracial marriage today, but I think it's fair to say that an overwhelming majority now agree that it should be legal. The most encouraging piece is that the age tabs then and now both show younger people overwhelming in support of marriage equality, showing that it's really just a matter of time.

    Ultimately, I think pitting one minority against another in terms of which is most oppressed, or which has been oppressed the longest, or which has had the toughest fight for equality, is totally counterproductive and only plays into the hands of our opponents.

  • Travis (unverified)

    Please remember how far we still have to go in developing race relations. I found this Indymedia post from Marc Lucca (sanmarco). Marc is the Polk County Republican Chairman. Very enlightening post from this racist crackpot.

    Good Question.. 03.Jun.2003 15:22

    sanmarco link

    Good question, about getting off your ass. How many of you people have volunteered with the police department? How many of you have ever put yourself in the danger they do? And I don't mean climbing trees and blocking traffic and bullshit like that...I totally respect your right to protest and admire your dedication to your cause...but my point is, how many of you have ever been in the situation these cops are in? It is very frighteneing to be in a situation where you are trying to do good for people, but they would just as soon kill you. You don't know who your friends are and who your enemies are until it is too late.

    You see, I have been on both sides of the badge. I have pointed a gun at a man that was in a car (and had already fired a shot earlier). And I almost had to shoot him and kill him. Afterwards, I was so glad I didn't have to, but as I read this I have to ask...what if I had? Would I have had a whole city full of do-gooder vultures decending on me at a time when I was mourning the decision I had to make? Or would it be ok because the crook was a middle class white guy?

    I had the pleasure of knowing the Sergeant that was shot in the face in January, and is still recovering. He is a gentle man, who dealt with this distraught mental case teenager in a manner worthy of respect. And he got a .45 slug in the face for it. Is it any wonder that some of my comrades begin to think that "only the good die young"?

    So let's tone down the rhetoric and try to understand the points of view on both sides. Yes, it is tragic that this woman was high on coke (probably crack) and made a stupid decision, and it cost her her life. That is unfortunate. But you don't know what it is like to stand in a crappy neighborhood full of killers, next to a car full of who knows what weapons, and try to pull a drug crazed person from that vehicle while it is trying to move. Getting out of the way is not always an option. Maybe there was someone else in front of the car that he was protecting. There are a host of things that could justify this shooting, and because grand jury testimony is sealed, YOU DON'T KNOW IT. The grand jury did, and they aren't part of the "system" (believe me, I have testified in front of them, they are just ordinary people trying to do a job).

    All the armchair quarterbacking about he could have done this or that is a pile of bovine scat - you weren't there, cut the guy some friggin slack. I guarantee he wasn't out looking for some black person to shoot, and I guarantee that he probably went home that night and wept. He was doing his job, trying to protect those same poor minorities some of you think he was out to hunt. Your attacking him with no evidence other than conjecture and anectode and how it "seems" only exacerbates the problem, and lets the police know that they are not appreciated.

    Sorry about the length of the post.

    to sanmarco 04.Jun.2003 09:53

  • Buckman Res (unverified)

    “Shame, shame, shame on you, Yes on 36 crowds. Only Americans calling liberals un-Americans vote bigotry into our state’s Constitution.”

    Measure 36 passed by what, 66% of the vote? Do you really believe all those who voted in favor of it are bigots? Perhaps they are our neighbors, some maybe even fellow progressives from this website, who wanted a genuine discussion on the ramifications of changing one of the fundamental cornerstones of civilization.

    Maybe the definition of marriage should be revised to include same-sex couples, but only after it’s understood what other unions will be eligible for a marriage license under the new definition. The inept way the issue was dealt with at the county level points out the importance of winning people’s hearts and minds if you expect your issue to succeed.

    The shame should be on those who throw out the bigot label in place of honest debate on such an important issue to people.

  • Tamerlane (unverified)

    I think you're forgetting the meaning of "civil rights." Civil rights are just those freedoms that refer to the citzen's legal position vis-a-vis the state, generally describable as "life, liberty, and the pusuit of happiness." To say that something is a "civil rights movement" doesn't necessarily make any sort of reference to either race or the 1960's. All I'm saying is that, literally speaking, of course gay rights are a "civil rights movement of this generation." There are other civil rights movements as well -- for example the dispute between privacy and wiretapping -- but, by definition, any struggle for equal treatment (e.g, gay rights) is a "civil rights" struggle.

  • Jennifer W (unverified)


    Do you know anybody who was denied the right to vote based on sexual orientation? Perhaps you know somebody who was denied access to a public high school, or attacked by police dogs when they tried to enroll in a predominately straight university, or told to use the "gay" bathroom, entrance, or water fountain. I don't. When you try to assume the mantle of the "civil rights movement" you run the risk of alienating those people of color who might otherwise be willing to support the cause.

    There are many people who (based on religious beliefs, homophobia, or simple intolerance) will always view homosexuality with varying degrees of suspicion, hostility, fear, or condemnation.

    Gay "rights" or gay marriage or even "equality" (whatever that means) is going to do NOTHING to reduce the suspicion, hostility, fear, and condemnation referenced above. You can't legislate tolerance. To the contrary, if an intolerant majority feels threatened, a Measure 36 style backlash is their predictable response.

    What may prove more effective is an outreach effort (a la Will & Grace) that says we're here, we've always been here, we would like to get along with the rest of you, and there's really nothing to be afraid of...

    I will assume a defensive position, and wait for the javelins and arrows to land now.

  • (Show?)

    I love stirrin' it up. I like the various points, Nate and Steven's inparticular. But I think the real point I was trying to get to was this: The people that represent us should be aware of our many different struggles, even though those same struggles tie many "minority" groups together. I do feel possessed, by being a black woman, by the cause of GLBT rights. I understand in a unique way (down to the frowned upon choice of partner) the disenfrancishment. Hence, my dedicated support to both women's rights, minority rights, and GLBT rights.

    Again, politicians should recognize the difference and be able to address them, aside from the usual. You know what I mean? Thanks also for the encouraging discussion.

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    I love stirrin' it up.

    And we love this about you.

    Buckman wrote: Do you really believe all those who voted in favor of [Measure 36] are bigots? Perhaps they are our neighbors, some maybe even fellow progressives from this website, who wanted a genuine discussion on the ramifications of changing one of the fundamental cornerstones of civilization.

    This is basically just anothter plea for tolerance of intolerance. Measure 36 enshrined discrimination into our state's Constitution -- discrimination against many of our neighors, fellow progressives from this site, and those who just want the same fundamental rights as the rest of us.

  • Joe12Pack (unverified)

    Fact is, most Americans oppose same-sex marriage. That does not necessarily make them bigoted, radical conservatives. Though I too disagree with the notion of the state sanctioning gay marriages, I opposed measure 36. It did not belong in our constitution.

    Believe it or not, there are more than a few decent right-of-center folks out here. We do not advocate for a theocratic government, define everybody by their ethnicity or seek to harm people based upon their chosen lifestyle.


  • Tamerlane (unverified)

    "Again, politicians should recognize the difference and be able to address them, aside from the usual. You know what I mean? Thanks also for the encouraging discussion." -- Karol C

    I appreciate the conversation as well. Also, I recognize that the pervasiness of overt Jim Crow laws added a degree of drama to the struggle of black civil rights movements that was unique. I guess what I am trying to suggest is that we can think of the issues at play in a broader context. When Dr. King said that we should judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin I believe he was making a broader statement than rejecting the banality of race. The end of Jim Crow was not just a victory for black people -- but a larger, necessary affirmation of the fundamental philosophical orientation of our nation. The right of conscience, for example. Civil rights in the American Constitution, I believe, represent the larger vision that the state has no right to regulate in favor of a certain kind of person. We are a blind meritocracy. In American Constitutional law "there is no such thing as the right opinion." Pulled together what we have is a broad, historical mandate that all people must be free to pursue life however it fits them, without governmental interference. Thus, the push for "civil rights" affirmation is not because we are necessarily pro-black or pro-gay or pro-anything -- rather, we simply find that in our nation the government has very limited rights to regulate, so as to forestall "tyranny of the majority." So, I guess what I am saying is that we should not "recognize the difference." Thanks for the post!

  • Meghan (unverified)

    Travis, That's disgusting. Is Marc Lucca still the Republican chairman for Polk county?

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    Jennifer W. wrote: Do you know anybody who was denied the right to vote based on sexual orientation?

    No. But, I do know that while women and racial minorities have lived as second-class citizens - at best - for much of human history, GLBT people have, since ancient Greco-Roman culture, been allowed to live public lives, of any form whatsoever, for only the past 40 years or so, and only in Western societies (Iran and Saudi Arabia regularly hang homosexuals to this day, the Gay Pride Parade in Moscow was violently attacked a few weeks ago, and so on). I know that up until 3 years ago (Lawrence v. Texas, U.S. S.Ct. 2003), police could kick down my door, walk into my bedroom, and arrest me for making love with my partner (cf., Romer v. Evans, U.S. S.Ct. 1995), a felony offense in many States, which would cost me my right to vote. I know that, to this day, in most of America, I could lose my job and be kicked out of my apartment solely for being GLBT. Obviously, we cannot join the military, with any sense of personal dignity, denying us a path out of poverty shared by the rest of America. And, I know that in most of America - and on this blog - people still feel privileged to publicly discuss my social and legal worth, and the worth of my committed relationship with the person I love, as well as to assert that this topic is rightfully subject to public discussion and majority vote. In this sense, you are very much correct. The GLBT equality movement is not the Black civil rights movement. In many ways (certainly not all, as our communities' issues are different, particularly around poverty, which still crushes much of Black America) we are decades behind you. In other ways, we're the same: drug addiction is tearing away at both of our communities.

    Ultimately, though, the "who's more oppressed than whom" game serves little purpose, other than to divide us (meaning, it serves Republican purposes beautifully). Many of us have been treated unfairly, for arbitrary reasons, and in some ways many of us still are. That's why we all share the common desire to achieve the "liberty and justice for all" we're supposed to have. That's where our focus belongs: on the movement towards civil rights we all share in common. To my eyes, the real issue is the fundamental economic injustice at the root of so many divisions people inaccurately ascribe to "minority" distinctions (again, playing into Republican hands by playing us against one another). The rich get richer while the poor fight over scraps.

    Sure, for historical and educational purposes, it's good and useful to distinguish between the women's suffrage and equality movement which began in the 20's and still carries on, the Black civil rights and Black Power movement which begain in the 50's and still carries on, the Gay Lib movement that began in the 70's and still carries on, the American Indian movement which began in the 70's and still carries on, and the many other culturally and historically distinct movements towards social fairness, in America and around the world, which are very much underway. At the same time, I hope we never stop looking at all we share in common far more, and far more often, than we look back and concern ourselves with the relative merits of the historical distinctions - which do indeed exist - leading up to where we all are sitting today.

    Coalition ain't easy.

  • jami (unverified)

    Buckman Res wrote: Measure 36 passed by what, 66% of the vote? Do you really believe all those who voted in favor of it are bigots?

    Yes, though I was out of Oregon for that election, so I simply refuse to believe the number of bigots was that high.

    Parallel bigotry is the reason some well-meaning politicians use the sloppy rhetoric that's bothering Karol. When these politicians are brave enough to call bigotry bigotry, they won't need to use another important movement that fought bigotry as a rhetorical crutch.

  • jami (unverified)

    buckman res, the number of bigoted voters was 56.6%. this begs the age-old question. republicans: stupid -- or lying?

  • James (unverified)

    Check out some of Bayard Rustin's essays and you'll begin to see how civil rights/human rights is a universal movement that includes everyone.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)

    Mr. Burr wrote: “This is basically just anothter plea for tolerance of intolerance.”

    No, this is basically just another plea for a reasoned, intelligent discussion about changing the definition of marriage that will persuade me and the majority of Oregonians that what you’re proposing is sound and necessary.

    For starters, your argument should consist of something more substantive than “you’re a bigot if you don’t agree with me.”

    Try hard Charlie (and Jami), I know you can do better.

  • Jennifer W (unverified)


    If you live in fear of the police kicking down your door, walking into your bedroom, and arresting you for making love with your partner (Romer v. Evans), then you have a very active imagination. If that were to occur in Oregon, I know several attorneys that would be eager to represent you.

    True, sodomy laws remain on the books in many states, but they generally treat heterosexual acts no differently. Are they rarely (or selectively) enforced? Yep. There’s a whole lot of straight people that are going to jail if they ever decide to ramp up enforcement.

    I am not familiar with the Romer v. Evans case, but I will research it. If the accused were simply engaged in a sexual act, I find it difficult to believe the police would be permitted to kick down the door: no probable cause.

    I don’t deny the GLBT community is subject to discrimination, I simply don’t believe the majority of that discrimination can be proscribed by law. It’s public opinion that needs to change, not the law.

  • Travis (unverified)

    Meghan & Jami,

    The answer is some Republicans are just plain stupid. Marc Lucca is still chairman down there. Just found another of the Marc Lucca (sanmarco) greatest quips. Coming after his "neighborhood full of crackheads and killers" comments, this is just getting to much for me.

    sanmarco Joined: May 2005 Forum posts: 27 Inside pages created: Oregon

    Posted on: 7:47 pm, May 07, 2006

    Hard to give you advice before you know where you are going to work, or what your interests are. If you will work in Hillsboro, I would live there. But I prefer suburbs.

    Downtown is fine, stay away from any apartments with a "North" designation in the address (NW is ok, just not "N"), generally. I have never lived downtown, so I couldn't give you great advice on where you could find a good apartment in your price range.

    Neighborhood quality in Oregon is not as segmented as in other places...what I mean is, there might be a good block or two, then a crappy block, etc. So it is hard to say "stay away from XYZ street", with rare exceptions (like N Portland, for example, is generally not the place you want to be after dark, or if you like Berkely,CA you will love SE Hawthorne St).

    Hope that helps. Give us more to go on and maybe we can get you better info.

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    Leo and Jennifer,

    Romer v. Evans had nothing to do with the police knocking down a door and arresting someone engaged in consensual sodomy. I think the cf. citation you are looking for is Bowers v. Hardwick, the decision overturned in Lawrence v. Texas.


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    Steven, thanks for the correction re: Bowers v. Hardwick and Romer v. Evans. My bad, I should have had that clear in my head.

    Jennifer W: It’s public opinion that needs to change, not the law.

    Jennifer, are you stating that GLBT people should receive no employment or housing protection, despite the clear nationwide record of firings and evictions directly related to perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression? Further, are you stating that GLBT relationships do not deserve the same legal protections, privileges, and responsibilities as heterosexual relationships?

    If you are, indeed, stating that GLBT people do not deserve these legal protections (e.g., that it should remain legal to fire and evict people solely for being GLBT, as it is in most of America), could you explain why our lives should be subject to the whims of public opinion? In doing so, I hope you will not rely on the silly canard that sexual orientation and gender identity are a matter of "lifestyle" choice. Even if they were (which they are not, per the prevailing scientific view) so is religion, itself a legally protected class.

    Yes, public opinion must change, on many topics, to ease social tension. But a society which enacts law to merely follow public opinion is a tyranny ruled by a mob.

  • Larry (unverified)

    "But a society which enacts law to merely follow public opinion is a tyranny ruled by a mob."

    I assume that 'public opinion' means what a majority of the public would like. Reminds of "...for the people, by the people, of the people." People change, as does public opinion. And so will this, over time.

    Would you prefer minority rules? Maybe we should all obey Diane Linn, since she knows best for all of us Oregonians.

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    Larry, to quote, "James Madison thought the chief threat to individual rights was not from actions in which the government was out of touch with the wishes of the majority, but 'acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the majority number of the Constituents.'"

    See also: Wikipedia: Tyranny of the Majority

    Those who believe government should operate by straight-forward 50.01% majority rule need to take time to understand and appreciate what the authors of the U.S. Constitution tried to create for us. Because that's not it.

  • Jennifer W (unverified)

    Leo asks:

    Are you stating that GLBT people should receive no employment or housing protection, despite the clear nationwide record of firings and evictions directly related to perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression?

    Yes: that is precisely what I am stating. Why? Because legislation will do very little to reduce homophobia or employment/housing discrimination.

    If you suspect that a potential employer or landlord is giving you the cold shoulder (for whatever reason), would you ask the state to force them to hire you or rent you an apartment? Do you think that is going to be a comfortable work/living environment?

    Similarly, if a landlord/employer is making you feel like you're no longer welcome in their apartment/company, does it really make sense to stay? And how would you know if they're discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation? Maybe they just think you're a schmuck, or that you're an alcoholic, or that you might scare children because you're covered in tatoos (for example!). If they decide to raise your rent/increase your workload, how can you evidence that it was because you're GLBT? Maybe they just decided they were charging too little rent, or they needed more productivity from you on the job?

  • (Show?)

    A couple of thoughts: Coretta Scott King, shortly before her death and for a number of years before that, was very strong in arguing that the struggle for LBTG rights was an extension, and a logical one, of the civil rights struggle. Likewise it is not an accident that when South Africans created their new constitution, equal rights for LBTG persons was enshrined in the fundamental law, and on that basis that S.A. became one of the first countries to give same sex marriage full civil-legal status as marriage.

    On the marriage debate, one should note that anti-"miscegenation" laws were not overturned until Love (or Loving) v. Virginia in 1965. The strongest legal parallelism may lie in the refusal of the government to punish extra-legal violence based on prejudice -- it was the lynch-lawless terrorism of extra-judicial violence that underpinned Jim Crow and the courage to stand up in its face that is the most astonishing achievement of the anti-racist civil rights movement. Toleration of violence against LGBT people is an active reality and blot on our present society & culture.

    "Bigotry" originally meant unwillingness to tolerate religious opinions different from one's own. I believe that there are a lot of honest bigots out there, i.e. people who hold their views in good faith, believe it is true to how they were raised, believe gay marriage is morally wrong or that somehow it damages marriage as an institution (there's evidence from Scandinavia & the Netherlands that it has strengthened heterosexual marriage, btw). But many of those people, honest as they may be, are not really open-minded about their opinions. And the "these are the values my parents raised me with" have been used by Protestants against Catholics & vice-versa, to defend racism, and on and on.

    Finally, the argument that legislation can do little to change attitudes was a HUGE anti-civil rights argument in the 1950s and 1960s. Very popular with the National Review for instance. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail in part addresses exactly that evasion.

    It is because laws do matter, because they carry moral weight about collective civic judgments about civic morality, that the aggressive hard-right anti-gay bigots care so much about what the law says. Laws do change people's minds. Having to live with laws may put them in situations or cause them to take actions that lead them to rethink what they once thought.

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    Jennifer W. states, in reponse to the question: "Are you stating that GLBT people should receive no employment or housing protection ... " Yes: that is precisely what I am stating. (Jennifer's emphasis)

    Do you also believe that anti-discrimination protections should be repealed for women and racial minorities, along with protections based upon choice of religion, and other protected classes? Further, do you believe that your employer should have the right to walk up to you tomorrow and say "I hate women, so you're fired", your landlord say "I hate women, so move out", and your banker say "I hate women, so I'm foreclosing on your mortgage"?

    Do you truly believe that employer/owner's should have this much unfettered power over the fundamental human needs for employment and shelter? Or, are you asserting that only GLBT people should be so vulnerable? And, if so, why?

  • Jennifer (unverified)


    I suffer from severe seasonal allergies. When the pollen count is high (like the past few weeks), I look awful: puffy eyes, runny nose, loud cough. I will take a sick day maybe once every two weeks, when I simply can't get out of bed. But my employer may fire me if they find my absenteeism is excessive, or they fear that I am increasing the germ load in the lunchroom. I don't relish the thought of getting fired, or looking for another job, but I realize that the ADA or civil rights protections aren't going to change my allergies. How can I "prove" they fired me for being sick, anyway? Employers are smarter than that: they would provide some other justification.

    Everybody is "so vulnerable" (your words), not just GLBT people. The government SHOULD NOT be involved in reviewing the hiring/firing decisions of private employers unless there is evidence of vast SYSTEMIC discrimination. And how to you prove systemic discrimination?

    The inevitable result is just more lawsuits, not more equality: a bunch of class action attorneys sue Wal-Mart because women who work at Wal-Mart are statistically more likely to be a cashier than a manager. Is that Ipso Facto proof of discrimination? Is it reasonable to expect management to be statistically representative of the gender composition of non-management employees? What if a college degree is required to work in management, and fewer than 10% of non-management employees meet that requirement. Is that discrimination?

    I would argue that legislation on GLBT housing/employment discrimination would due more harm than good to your community. There would likely be lots of lawsuits filed, and a large number of cash settlements paid to avoid the risks of a jury verdict. But the additional litigation and insurance expense would be harmful to employers and landlords, and would result in higher rents and fewer hirings as a result.

    The Angela Oswalt/Derrick Foxworth affair illustrates my point. Was Ms. Oswalt discriminated against as a woman? Did she seek out and willingly participate in an affair with Derrick Foxworth, and then apply for a transfer in the precint he supervised? I believe the answers to those questions are No, Yes, and Yes.

    Ostensibly hiding behind anti-descrimination statutes, she has threatened to sue the City (translation: taxpayers of Portland) for money to compensate her for having a consensual affair with a man who married somebody else? Years later, when Foxworth was Chief of Police, she decided she wanted an early retirement, so she hired a lawyer and destroyed Chief Foxworth's career. I don't believe that Ms. Oswalt's course of action has advanced the rights of women one iota. To the contrary, people like Ms. Oswalt undermine the system, and make men like Foxworth realize that "vulnerable" women can also be vindictive and opportunist.

    I think it would be a mistake to assume the rights of GLBT people are inherently more secure simply because it's easier to sue your employer or landlord. Any legislative/judicial solution will likely be exploited by opportunists, and large cash settlements paid to GLBT claimants is unlikely to provide much benefit to the community at large.

  • (Show?)

    Jennifer: Regarding your allergies analogy, it simply doesn't apply (nor make much sense). Allergies are a temporary condition, which may nonetheless be partially and temporarily disabling. Sexual orientation, on the other hand, is immutable, and has no impact on one's ability to work. Immutability of a non-job related characeristic - such as race, gender, or sexual orientation - is a central factor in determining protected class status.

    But the additional litigation and insurance expense would be harmful to employers and landlords, and would result in higher rents and fewer hirings as a result.

    Jennifer, I believe you're speaking nonsense. Anti-discrimination laws have been in place for decades, protecting people from employment, housing, and financial discrimination based on immutable - and irrelevant - characteristics, yet we still have a fully-functioning economy, and huge inflows of money to the employers and landlords. The rich are having no problems under our current legal and economic framework, and most would be completely unaffected by a logical extension of existing anti-discrimination legislation. Those few affected would deserve the affect, in compensation for their proved acts of discrimination.

    Frankly, the rollback and repeal of anti-discrimination laws, which you seem (?) to favor, would far more likely lead to massive social and economic disruption (strikes, boycotts, etc.), than would such laws' expansion to cover another immutable characteristic - sexual orientation - which has zero bearing on a person's ability to work, pay rent, or pay a mortgage, yet is nonetheless regularly used to deny fair treatment.

    Lastly, Jennifer, you didn't answer my question: do you believe all anti-discrimination laws should be repealed? Or, are you views restricted specifically to GLBT people?

  • Jennifer W. (unverified)

    I don't believe in the Nanny State: a government that is so powerful as to make everybody be nice to everybody, eat the right foods, stop smoking, etc. If any group aspires to hold the government accountable for their personal progress, they are going to be disappointed with the outcome. There was certainly a time when civil rights legislation and enforcement was necessary. I believe that time has long since passed.

    I don't believe most anti-discrimination laws (beyond the voting rights act) have achieved their objectives. To wit, the many leaders of the African American community (Rep. Jefferson, Jesse Jackson, Rep. McKinney, Joseph Jett) who all played the race card when they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. It is the nature of "anti-discrimination" legislation to replace the personal responsibility of the protected class with an ideology of victimization. The MAN wasn't keeping them down, their victimology was.

    Based on my experience, it may be advantageous to be a person of color or GLBT if you apply for a job with Multnomah County. Is that fair? In most of the private sector (housing included), or even State and Federal Government, gender, sexual orientation, and race play a minor role in the hiring decision: your ability to exceed the employer's expectations on the job (primarily represented by your demeanor and experience) is what matters most. The majority of employers don't care what you do in your private life (or who you're doing it with), they care about your performance on the job.

    To answer your question, YES! I think we would see little impact if all federal civil rights enforcement were halted, and the legislation allowed to expire. Take the hundreds of millions of dollars that is currently spent on inept bureaucrats, reports, and commissions, and put it into education grants for College Freshmen on a means tested achievement basis (translation: good grades are the cost of admission, but rich kids need not apply).

    Education is the bridge to achievement, not a Nanny State.

  • Larry (unverified)
    <h2>"Immutability of a non-job related characeristic - such as race, gender, or sexual orientation - is a central factor in determining protected class status."</h2>

    Sexual orientation is a choice. Many choose to change.

    But so is gender. Haven't you heard of sex changes?

    Also, so is race. Haven't you seen Michael Jackson?

  • (Show?)

    Larry wrote:exual orientation is a choice. Many choose to change.

    This is a harmful lie promoted by the radical religious right. So-called "reparative" or "restorative" therapy is dangerous and does not work. The large majority of those who undergo such "therapy" later return to their naturally born homosexuality, if they even get so far as to think themselves "cured" (less than one in three, even according to its primary proponent, Dr. Charles Socarides, who is now dead). The majority of those who do claim some form of "cure" from homosexuality suffer long-term psychological consequences, including impotence, severe depression, and suicide. Those few who do not were virtually always bisexual or asexual in the first place, rather than homosexual, explaining their ease in "changing" part of their natural sexual orientation. It's worth noting that even proponents of this harmful technique describe "cure" as nothing but "repression of homosexual urges".

    Of course, it's easy to have ignorant arguments about whether sexual orientation or gender identity are immutable characteristics, because these traits are invisible to the naked eye. However, those who believe in science should know that the organizations denouncing "homosexual reparative therapy" as harmful and dangerous, and agreeing that sexual orientation is an innate and immutable characteristic, include the:

    * American Medical Association
    * American Psychiatric Association
    * American Academy of Pediatrics
    * American Psychological Association
    * American Counseling Association
    * National Association of School Psychologists
    * National Association of Social Workers
    * Royal College of Nursing

    Wikipedia: Reparative Therapy

    It's enlightening to know that a co-founder of the main religious proponent of "reparative therapy" - a christian ministry called Exodus International - is now a happily partnered gay man who regularly speaks out against the organization he co-founded (including in a documentary called "One Nation Under God"). It's main "medical" proponent, Dr. Charles Socarides, was the father of an estranged gay son, Richard Socarides, who went on to be a prominent GLBT rights advocate and advisor to President Bill Clinton.

    Anyone struggling in the grips of "reparative therapy" or "restorative ministry" should know about these sites:

    Ex-Gay Watch HeartStrong

    Happy Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Pride Month everyone! For information on events near you, visit Just Out.

  • (Show?)

    Jennifer W. wrote: There was certainly a time when civil rights legislation and enforcement was necessary. I believe that time has long since passed.

    I believe the many, many American citizens who have actual experience with discrimination in housing and employment based upon immutable and irrelevant characteristics - such as race, gender, and sexual orientation - as opposed to armchair opinions about other peoples' lives, would disagree with you.

    I don't believe that employers, bankers, and land-owners should have unfettered power to interfere with fundamental needs for housing and employment based on personal bigotries around irrelevant, immutable characteristics. You do. I think we'll just need to disagree on this.

  • Jennifer W. (unverified)


    I wonder if you listened to Kremer & Abrams on KXL this morning? They are both lamenting the unintended consequences of Title IV (which sought to equalize funding for women's athletics): UofO had to drop their men's baseball program (due to the paucity of scholarships they were able to offer because of "parity" issues), and Nike's sponsorship of high profile men's teams may be curtailed because private donations are now being subjected to Title IV.

    Employers, bankers, and landowners have far less power over your life than does local, State, and Federal Governments. You are sorely mistaken if you think that governmental interference is always your friend. It's not. And it always comes with a price and other strings attached.

  • Jennifer W. (unverified)

    The above should read "Title IX" (title 9) not "Title IV"...I'm a little rusty on Roman Numerals.

  • KickTheBumsOut (unverified)

    I think if BRO wanted to make a statement, they could do the following next session:

    1. Find a wealthy supporter(s) with some money to kick around for personal investments.
    2. Find first Republican to open his/her mouth against the need for non-discrimination legislation.
    3. Buy whatever house that legislator rents in while he/she is in Salem.
    4. Evict said legislator on the basis of being straight.

    (Of course, easier said than done, but wouldn't it be fun!)

  • Jennifer W. (unverified)

    It's getting a little paranoid in here. It's time to acknowledge that most people are in control of their own destiny (gay or straight): we aren't that dependent on a bunch of nameless, faceless strangers for stability in employment or housing.

    I have GLBT friends who are doctors, architects, entrepeneurs, and librarians: none of them are living in fear of some all powerful straight alliance that is bent on destroying them.

    Do you really believe that people are just waiting around hoping for the chance to kick you out of your home/job/restaurant?

    If you're a good tenant/employee/patron, they (landord/employer/restaurant owner) loathe the idea of seeing you go. It's important to remember that most people are better capitalists than they are bigots. Those that aren't (or anybody who mistreats) don't deserve your money: so why give it to them?

    It's as if you're still stuck in some small town in Montana, circa 1959, just waiting for somebody to find out you're not straight. Snap out of it.

  • Ed Bickford (unverified)

    "Most people" are not in sole control of their own destiny, as they are human, which makes us social creatures, reliant on the community in which we live for the mutual support required for us to live.

    It is not paranoiac to recognize that hostility which turns swathes of one's community into "a bunch of nameless, faceless strangers."

    Oh, and thanks for resurrecting that old dodge "Why, some of my best friends are _!" (insert stereotype here; e. g. 'black', 'GLBT', or other ethnic slur). It was a real blast from the past!

  • (Show?)

    Jennifer W. wrote: "Do you really believe that people are just waiting around hoping for the chance to kick you out of your home/job/restaurant?"

    Some don't, and plenty do, particularly outside privileged urban enclaves like Portland, Oregon. The stories and documentation are out there, for those who care to do more than spout facile armchair opinion, making your blithe ignorance of the facts more than a little tiresome. Your willingness to sacrifice our lives - in the abstract, and far from your apparent reality - in the name of some armchair libertarian purity frankly makes me gag.

    I don't want to live in a society where no one gives a damn about anyone else, even if it does make people who are afraid of emotional intimacy feel safe. I care a great deal about the quality of education in Oregon, even though I'll never have children ("just" amazing nieces). I care a great deal about whether our children have a great (or even just "good") future ahead, or crippling Republican debt. I care a great deal about people's freedom to make choices about how we choose to control and live in our bodies. And I am sick and tired of straight people pretending that the lives, involvement, and participation of us odd uncles and aunts can be taken for granted in the lives of our children. Human society has involved so very much more than "the nook-lee-uhrrr family", for thousands of years, at least to those of us paying any attention to all the aunts, uncles, and grandparents out there.

    You've apparently got yours, Jennifer W., and may even have made one or two casual GLBT friends along the way (who would no doubt be appalled to learn how little you actually think of them, and their worth in society, were they ever to read your writings here). I can only hope most reading this think of us GLBT people as people, not political tokens to make them feel comfortable (as well as vaguely hip and "progressive") in their privilege.

    Portland's LGBT Pride Parade and Rally was great today. Thousands of people!! The Bus Project was huge in the parade, and the GLBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Oregon signed up several hundred new activist-Democrat members. After everything today, it makes me ... emotional ... to think that society may treat us as fully equal someday, if we all keep working towards that goal (as well as all the many other goals we must achieve as a society, here in Oregon, such as stable educational funding for our kids. 'Cuz yeah, I really do give far more than a damn about all of our issues. Lemme tell you about my nieces someday ... they totally rock!)

  • Jennifer W (unverified)

    Your victimization is hanging like a fur coat on a straw man, Mr. Schuman: resplendent symbolism furry and warm, hiding a vacuous interior imitating life.

    I said nothing about the role that GLBT people play in the lives of children, nieces, and nephews. You have marginalized yourself, not I.

    I said nothing about disregarding freedom for all people: we simply disagree as to whether or not punitive damages and/or government intervention will set you free.

    Like the bumper sticker says, "Attitude is Everything"...If you see a world full of bigoted straight people eager to trample on your personal liberty, that is very likely what you'll find.

    The achievement of protected class status will have unintended consequences (and costs), which will be born by the entire society.

    You are making yourself the political token, not I.

  • (Show?)

    The achievement of protected class status will have unintended consequences (and costs), which will be born by the entire society.

    It is society's burden to bear the cost and effort of ensuring that Constitutional rights - including equal protection of the laws - are guaranteed to all citizens, otherwise that document is meaningless.

    I can agree with you that legal changes are not the entire answer, by any means, in addressing unfair discrimination. However, they are part of it. To pretend that women and non-white people would occupy the places they do now in our society without the long-term effect of the non-discrimination laws put into place beginning in the 60's and 70's is simply not credible.

    If you see a world full of bigoted straight people eager to trample on your personal liberty, that is very likely what you'll find.

    People often don't see discrimination unless and until they've experienced it personally, Jennifer, so your view is hardly surprising, even if it's naive. I know the GLBT community has many, many straight allies. I also know there are many, many straight people who are anything but our allies.

  • KTBO (unverified)

    I like Jennifer's argument. I think it goes something like this:

    Since gay people probably won't be kicked out of their home or fired on that basis... there's no need for non-discrimination legislation.

    What a naive little gem. I think the few people who are evicted or fired would completely understand if they were just told: "Well, there's really no need for non-discrimination legislation, because plenty of other people didn't get fired."

  • (Show?)

    A correction to my prior post: the proper URL for HeartStrong, an organization for GLBT students in religious schools is:

    HeartStrong.ORG ... not .COM as I'd written.

  • Dan J (unverified)

    "Shame, shame, shame on you Yes on 36 crowds"

    Sorry Karol,

    I'll make sure to check in with the lefties before a vote next time (me and the other 60% of ballots on 36).

    As for all of your Blue Oregon Liberals, I'm fascinated to see all of the stereotypes and the scorn of fake pity that you heap on Jennifer. At least she has the courage to say what she feels.

    Good job Jennifer, you've made them all look silly and defensive.

    The Liberal playbook was once again on full display:

    1) Use extreme example to try and make a point. 2) Call someone names (naive, biggot, etc) 3) Play the victim card (blame everyone else) 4) Do all of the above in a way that sounds "high-minded".

  • KTBO (unverified)

    Dan J --

    As someone who probably has opposite political views than your own... you hit the standard Oregon liberal strategy right on the money.

    I don't mind step 1 so much... we live in a nation of laws, not of men, sayeth the Federalists. (But have you noticed that the high-mindedness extends to where people eat and shop, too? It's like wherever I eat has to serve some kind of Himalayan curry and before I shop somewhere I have to examine a breakdown of their employee benefits package.)

    Seriously though, I think measure 36 was a really bad vote. Why pass legislation that's not needed, and does gay marriage really constitute a threat to other people's marriages?

  • Jennifer W. (unverified)

    Rather than confront my beliefs on their merits, you keep twisting my words to fit your political purpose. For example, I wrote:

    It's time to acknowledge that most people are in control of their own destiny (gay or straight): we aren't that dependent on a bunch of nameless, faceless strangers for stability in employment or housing.

    Notice there are two parts of the sentence, connected with a colon (":")

    To which Ed Bickford replied:

    "Most people" are not in sole control of their own destiny, as they are human, which makes us social creatures, reliant on the community in which we live for the mutual support required for us to live.

    I didn't suggest that any person exists in isolation, or that we shouldn't try and get along with each other or form community. I simply suggested that individual initiative is the way to overcome employment and housing discrimination. You can't keep a good man down, and so on and so forth.

    You guys know NOTHING about me, other than what I've written here. Diplomacy requires that you extend a modicum of "tolerance" to those who don't meet your litmus test for ideological purity. You are more likely to win converts, rather than alienating the uninformed that way.

  • Zarathurstra (unverified)

    No one suceeds until everyone suceeds. Period.

  • Rebel Dog (unverified)

    jennifer wrote: Diplomacy requires that you extend a modicum of "tolerance" to those who don't meet your litmus test for ideological purity. You are more likely to win converts, rather than alienating the uninformed that way.

    This is an ideolog blog. I lament that that has become icompatible with "tolerance".

  • Gecko (unverified)


    Does that mean we can't increase the capital gains tax on the rich to 50% to pay for Socialist Bliss (did I say Socialist Bliss?... I meant to say "universal healthcare")?

  • nader (unverified)

    Well, I can agree with almost all of Karol's arguments, but I just don't come to the same conclusion. Clearly the Gay Rights movement is a civil rights issue. I've never really seen a nice packaged definition of "civil rights", but if it means anything it must be the rights, privileges, and protections that all citizens are entitled to.

    The ongoing Gay Rights and African-American movements are both just that, ongoing. And pretty clearly both of them are subsumed within the greater notion of "civil rights".

    I just don't see any harm in drawing symbolic links between any contemporary civil rights movement and historic struggles for civil rights, like the 1960's movement or the fight for women's suffrage. Symbolism can sometimes get people view issues from a different more familiar perspective.

    Most rational Americans today at least consciously understand that it is not right to deny citizens the right to vote, own property, or enter into contracts on the basis of race. But it seems that many feel it is fine to deny some of these rights (particularly the contractual relationship of marriage) on the basis of sexual orientation. Saying that an individual cannot marry another because of gender or sexual orientation is morally no different than saying a black person cannot marry a someone who is white. Drawing the parallels can help people who don't instincitvely see the inequality inherent in denying homosexuals all the rights and privileges of citizenship.

    Of course there is more work that needs to be done as far as the African-American movement goes; we have certainly not achieved "equality" in that arena. But I don't think it helps either cause to build unneccessary walls between two movements that have so many areas of overlap.

  • (Show?)

    Jennifer W. wrote: I simply suggested that individual initiative is the way to overcome employment and housing discrimination. You can't keep a good man down, and so on and so forth.

    Actually Jennifer, you suggested a lot more than that. When asked if all laws protecting people from housing, employment, and financial discrimination should be repealed, you responded "YES! I think we would see little impact if all federal civil rights enforcement were halted".

    So I am trying to figure out what you actually believe:

    (1) that it's the various minority communities' responsibility to change majority views of us, in some unstated manner, without benefit of any protective legislation (in other words, blame the victim and let them work it out);

    (2) that all anti-discrimination laws should be repealed as useless (in which case I believe you're ignorant of the facts and history of these laws, outside of your individual, and apparently negative, personal experience); or

    (3) that everyone in our society has an affirmative responsibility to practice tolerance regarding irrelevant and immutable charactersitics, such as gender, race, sexual orientation, and gender identity (in which case I agree, so far as that half of the formula goes).

    The truth is that legislation is needed to initiate shifts in social attitudes and establish baseline protection (housing, employment, and financial access), and widespread social initiatives are also needed to promote tolerance. Change requires both carrot and stick. And, if society reaches the point where non-discrimination laws are no longer needed, I'll agree with you that it's time to repeal these laws. But we're nowhere near there yet.

    For those interested in research, rather than casually resentful opinions about others' "victim" mentality, reports on the nature and extent of anti-gay bias in American society are available here:

    American Psychological Association Congressional Testimony:

    Additional Material:

    Regarding anti-gay bias elsewhere in the world, here is an article and photos of two teenage Iranian boys being hanged for homosexuality, one year ago in Summer 2005:

    For those who believe such things couldn't happen here in America, just two weeks ago at 2am on June 3rd, 2006, at SW 10th and Stark, 4 gay men were attacked by 8 presumably straight men, calling the gay men "faggots", and other anti-gay epithets. Injuries suffered by the 4 gay men include 4 facial fractures, a broken sinus socket, a fractured vertebrae, a broken shoulder, a broken wrist, and various scrapes and bruises. Portland Police are investigating, but have no suspects (reported in the current issue of Just Out ( And, I'll assume many know the story of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man who was beaten and left to die on a fence outside Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998.

    So, Jennifer, while I do agree with you that social attitudes need to change, your view that we who are "minorities" by virtue of innate, immutable characteristics, must seek to change society without the support of any form of legislation or force of government, leaves me feeling ... you see the world through rose-colored glasses.

  • Bill Hooker (unverified)

    Regarding the legislative and social status of glbt individuals: what Leo Schuman said (and said well, complete with actual evidence).

    Regarding the original issue of the post: Karol, I also thought Steven and Nate made very good points. To my[1] mind, neither of your two original points (that the black civil rights movement is not over, and that there are significant differences between the glbt and black communities' struggles) provides sufficient reason to abandon the comparison, in light of Steven/Nate's points that the similarities are a powerful tool for moving public opinion and that the various civil rights movements are better off standing together than apart. I'd like to hear you respond to these ideas at more length. I suspect it's partly an issue of language -- glib slogans like "gay is the new black" and "the civil rights movement of this generation" certainly do carry a somewhat dismissive tone, the connotation that the "old" movement is somehow over and done with. Would more careful and specific comparisons (e.g. interracial vs gay marriage) be less likely to offend black Americans?

    [1]white, straight, male -- I support both glbt and black civil rights, but it's not up to me to direct either.

  • Bill Hooker (unverified)

    ("white, straight, male" -- for anyone wondering what "male" has to do with the issue at hand, it's just that the footnote escaped editing on preview: my first draft contained a largely irrelevant comment about feminism.)

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