Tim's testimony: The research is clear

Good evening. I live in Anchorage, I'm 52 years old and I'm gay, and I make no apologies for that. EVER. But what's wrong with being gay anyway? Absolutely nothing.

The research on homosexuality is very clear. "Homosexuality is neither mental illness nor moral depravity. It is simply the way a minority of our population expresses human love and sexuality. Study after study documents the mental health of gay men and lesbians. Studies of judgment, stability, reliability, and social and vocational adaptiveness all show that gay men and lesbians function every bit as well as heterosexuals." This is from The American Psychological Association's "Statement on Homosexuality" from way back in July 1994.

The Church also teaches understanding and compassion toward gay and lesbian people. In their 1976 statement, To Live in Christ Jesus, the American bishops wrote, "Some persons find themselves through no fault of their own to have a homosexual orientation. Homosexuals, like everyone else, should not suffer from prejudice against their basic human rights. They have a right to respect, friendship, and justice. They should have an active role in the Christian community.… The Christian community should provide them a special degree of pastoral understanding and care." In 1990, the U.S. National Conference of Catholic Bishops repeated this teaching in their instruction, Human Sexuality.

When I discussed this ordinance with my family who lives in the Deep South, I was surprised at a comment I received from my sister-in-law, a woman who lives in rural North Carolina. She wrote "this is about fundamental decency towards each other and if one doesn't have that type of basic respect for another human being, all of the religion and political views in the world are meaningless."

Before I run out of time I would like to state that I enthusiastically support Ordinance 64. Please vote YES…. all 11 of you!

Obviously some disagree with me and I'd like to address a few of their objections:

Including sexual orientation as a protected class, grants "special rights" or privileges to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. This is factually incorrect because the legislation protects every person without exception, whether they are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or, sometimes, asexual.

Including sexual orientation will criminalize any religious speech that presents homosexuality as a sin. This is factually incorrect because in the U.S., speech attacking a minority group is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Hate-crime legislation does not inhibit speech, it only is applicable if a violent crime has first been committed such as attempted murder, assault, aggravated assault, etc.

Including sexual orientation as a protected class is invalid because such classes must be reserved for innate, unchangeable, unchosen factors in a person's life, like race, skin color, sex, degree of permanent disability, etc. This is not a defensible argument because religion has traditionally been included in hate-crime and human rights legislation. One's faith identification is certainly changeable and chosen. Also, according to the vast majority of mental health therapists, human sexuality researchers, the Roman Catholic Church, liberal faith groups and some mainline faith groups, sexual orientation is neither changeable nor chosen.

Sexual orientation and gender identity may be words that cause unease or fear for individuals who have not studied the issues, and this is exactly why major civil rights changes usually come from legislatures, judges, or executive decree rather than by popular vote.

Take slavery for example. Late in the 17th century, Leander, a Roman Catholic theologian wrote: "It is certainly a matter of faith that this sort of slavery in which a man serves his master as his slave, is altogether lawful. This is proved from Holy Scripture...It is also proved from reason for it is not unreasonable that just as things which are captured in a just war pass into the power and ownership of the victors, so persons captured in war pass into the ownership of the captors... All theologians are unanimous on this." Is it difficult to guess what a "vote of the people" would have decided about abolishing slavery in those times?

On women's right to vote: In March 1884, Rev. Professor H. M. Goodwin wrote in the New Englander and Yale Review, Volume 43, Issue 179: "Before committing ourselves to one more radical and irremediable error, and plunging blindly into this gulf of women's suffrage, it will be well to pause and see whither we are going, and what this new movement, or 'reform' really signifies; whether it rests on a true principle or a shallow and pleasing fallacy, and whether its results are likely to be beneficial or disastrous. This whole movement for female suffrage, is, at least in its motive and beginning, a rebellion against the divinely ordained position and duties of woman, and an ambition for independence and the honors of a more public life; as if any greater and diviner honor could be given to woman than those which God has assigned her; as if the sanctities of home and the sacred duties of wife and mother, with all their sacrifices, were not a higher sphere and a truer glory—a glory she shares with the world's Redeemer—than the vulgar publicity of the polls and speech making, or the campaigning, or even the Senate and the bar." Were women allowed to vote in 1884? In some places yes, but in many places not until the Nineteenth Amendment was passed by Congress and ratified by the states in 1920.

It was only 42 years ago — on June 12, 1967 — that the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down a Virginia statute barring whites from marrying non-whites. The decision also overturned similar bans in 15 other states. Since that landmark Loving v. Virginia ruling, the number of interracial marriages has soared; for example, black-white marriages increased from 65,000 in 1970 to 422,000 in 2005, according to Census Bureau figures. Factoring in all racial combinations, Stanford University sociologist Michael Rosenfeld calculates that more than 7 percent of America's 59 million married couples in 2005 were interracial, compared to less than 2 percent in 1970.

Opinion polls show overwhelming popular support, especially among younger people, for interracial marriage, but that's not to say acceptance has been universal. Bob Jones University in South Carolina only dropped its ban on interracial dating in 2000; a year later 40 percent of the voters objected when Alabama became the last state to remove a no-longer-enforceable ban on interracial marriages from its constitution. The US Supreme Court, not a vote by the majority of citizens, is what has allowed several of my friends to be married today.

So in summary, your YES vote on Ordinance 64 will help ensure that ALL citizens of Anchorage are treated fairly, equally, and without discrimination. Thank you.

2 comments:

Andrew said...
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Smarry said...
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