Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Alex Thurston: A Note to Homosexual and Heterosexual Americans

I wish I wrote this, but Alex Thurston's words reflect my exact sentiments to the letter:

As a straight man, I would like to express to all gay and lesbian
citizens of this country my deep sorrow over the setbacks for your
civil rights in this election. And I would like to express to all
Americans that we cannot tolerate discrimination of any sort in the
United States.

With Floridians, Arizonans, and (it seems) Californians voting to
ban gay marriage, and the people of Arkansas voting to ban gay
adoption, we’ve received painful news not just for homosexual
Americans, but for all Americans. I would think that these setbacks are
particularly painful given that many homosexual activists, from
bloggers to campaign staffers to volunteers, gave their all for the
victory of President-Elect Obama. As many newspapers at home and abroad
speak of turning the page on discrimination, it’s clear that that’s not
the case. We still have a long way to go before all our citizens have
the rights they deserve, and even further to go before institutional
discrimination in the workplace, real estate sales, and other sectors
of public and private life is erased.

If it is any consolation, I believe that gay people are winning the
cultural war - and though that did not translate into success at the
ballot box yesterday, it will one day soon. In America, the struggle
for the enfranchisement of every adult citizen and the granting of full
civil rights to all citizens regardless of their race, sex, gender,
religion, or sexual orientation has tended to flow in one direction -
toward that of an open and democratic society - though not without
major tragedies along the way.

With the expression of gay identity becoming more acceptable in
films, songs, nightlife, and even high schools, I believe it is only a
matter of time before a sea change occurs. Young people, even young
evangelicals from what I’ve heard now several times, have a
fundamentally different attitude toward homosexuality than previous
generations. If this election marks the beginning of our political
come-up, then let a major part of that come-up be the quest to remove
this national shame from our collective identity and collective
conscience by striking down discriminatory laws, initiatives, and

Because victory in the cultural struggle is clearly not enough. We
need victory at the ballot box as well, and the best way to achieve
that, in my opinion, is by stating now - as voters, as partisans, as
Americans - that discrimination and equivocation on the issue of gay
rights are unacceptable. We are past the point where we can tolerate
politicians who propose one set of rights for one set of citizens, and
a different set of rights for another group of citizens, and justify it
based on electoral caution. We must not equivocate on issues of basic
human rights, and we must not allow our leaders to do so either.

I repeat that this moment is one of deep sorrow, but I will also say
that for me, and doubtless for others, it comes as a wake-up call. I
had faith that California would reject discrimination. I was
under-informed about other ballot initiatives. Clearly there is work to
do, and it’s not just the priority of one group - it must be a priority
of all Americans, because where we stand on discrimination of any type
determines in large measure the legacy we pass on to our children and
to history.

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