Common Sense launches gay rights project

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday July 16, 2005

The Raleigh-based Common Sense Foundation has launched a research and advocacy project to increase awareness of the many struggles faced by North Carolina's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community. This fall they will release a comprehensive study on the laws and policies affecting LGBT North Carolinians.

Issues to be addressed include adoption, child custody, marriage, visitation rights, gender identity, crimes against nature laws, employment/ housing/health care discrimination, harassment, hate-crime legislation and HIV/AIDS. For heterosexuals, many of these issues, the first few in particular, are matters that we take for granted.

Many of us are privileged in that we do not have to think about our sexual orientation, just as many do not have to think about their race, religion or gender. But in matters of fundamental rights, there should be no privileged class. Unfortunately, the LBGT community in North Carolina is being discriminated against in nearly all aspects of public and private life.

Here in Orange County, we have a strong, if fairly recent, tradition of not limiting rights on the basis of sexual orientation.

Our elected officials are able to face the challenge of busloads of Bible-waving bigots from distant communities while standing firm in the common decency of their convictions.

This is far from the case in other parts of the state and nation.

Last month, in Tampa, Fla., the Hillsboro county commission ordered the removal of a library exhibit connected to gay pride month.

The commissioners ordained that county agencies "abstain from acknowledging, promoting or participating" in gay pride recognition or events and went on to require a supermajority vote to overturn this policy.

Of particular concern to the commissioners were materials informing LGBT teenagers of available support services.

This decision, coming as it does in a major metropolitan area, is a frightening indication of the narrow-mindedness of a small but politically powerful faction.

After all, a library is supposed to be a home for learning, a place that should support the exploration of a wide range of topics.

But beyond the question of intellectual freedom is the blow this decision is to Tampa's LGBT community. As Vonn New of Tampa-based Equality Florida put it: "This is how the far-right works to make us invisible and unsafe in our own communities. They wish gay people didn't exist. Since we do, they want to hide our existence and the contributions we make to society. Once hidden, it is far easier for them to attempt to demonize and shame us.

"If we celebrate who we are and whom we love, they attempt to punish us through the denial of basic rights such as: family protections for our loved one and our selves, parenting a child through adoption, being safe and secure by excluding us from anti-bullying, civil rights and hate-crimes laws."

Note that New raises many of the same concerns that Common Sense is studying in its LGBT research project.

Sadly, a Web chat sponsored by Tampa's Bay News 9 received numerous hate-filled, homophobic posts, many of them religious in tone.

Events in Florida mirror a resolution passed last month at the Southern Baptist Convention's national meeting in Nashville, Tenn. It called for parents to monitor schools for the influence of "homosexual activists and their allies." Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, told assembled Southern Baptists that an "aggressive homosexual agenda is being taught without the knowledge of parents."

The growing intrusion of Christianity into public life has a peculiarity about it. It functions to reinforce particular beliefs on the basis of a highly selective reading of a vast and contradictory body of Scriptures. One's world-view may come ready-packaged with biblical citations but, rest assured, it is the former that determines the latter, not the other way around.

That said, let me suggest some relevant passages for the truest Christians. Right-wing believers may be surprised to discover that it was not Jesus who said "hate the sin and love the sinner." That was Gandhi.

What Jesus did say was "judge not lest you be judged," an apt prescription for those who decry the "homosexual agenda."

The Prophet Micah said that god has only three requirements: "to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with god." Humility without judgment is therefore the hallmark of righteousness.

Finally, Jesus, perhaps most famously, said to "do unto others as you would have others do to you." Would you have others permit you to wed, to adopt, to inherit, to care for your loved ones and to live without fear? Of course you would.

And if so or if your opposition to discrimination has a secular basis, consider supporting the LGBT project of the Common Sense Foundation .



An illuminating essay from an unlikely source. John Danforth may have been a Republican Senator, but based on this article, he sure sounds like someone I would have over for dinner.

I support anything to push this civil rights issue forward. But am beginning to wonder whether a strategy shift is in order.

Is it time to consider going after gay and lesbian civil rights and equality with less focus on the bisexual and transgender issues. Granted many of the issues may be the similar, but considering the need to be incremental in realistic goals. Perhaps more progress could be made for the L and G crowd, rather than the LGBT. I think it is resonable to suggest that more non LGBT folks out there can understand LG, with more challenging introspection needed for BT issues.

Finally, i see the marriage rights / domestic partner issues very mainstream to LG folks and less so to BT. Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, and Belgium have made progress on gay and lesbian marriage. I dont know if the BT issues were addressed there.

So all in all, common sense might indicate a change in strategy and perhaps a more focused strategy. I am sure that the folks at 'Common Sense' took stock of LGBT minds at the state level. but from my perspective, a new fresh approach would get 'Common Sense' more coverage and maybe renewed support from LGs and their friends.

Regardless of the tack pursued, i support and appreciate the new 'Common Sense' initiative. But i tire of stale tactics.

all the best


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.