What's So ‘Special' About Equality?
The LGBT community fights for the right to be like everyone else
What are opponents to a human rights ordinance — in Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville or anywhere — really afraid of?
"This is really a push, a planned organized effort to further a gay agenda of ultimately gay marriage and other such special gay rights for the LGBT community," Raymond Johnson told First Coast News at a Nov. 25 meeting of the Atlantic Beach City Commission that included initial discussions about adding a human rights ordinance to the city. Johnson is founder and president of Biblical Concepts Ministries, a Jacksonville-based Christian ministry.
The "gay agenda." That old chestnut. The term was first used in the early 1990s when the Family Research Council, an American conservative Christian group, released a video series to campaign against "special rights" for gays, lesbians and bisexuals. It included disgusting and ridiculous claims about gay men and spawned several sequels.
What do these conservative groups imagine the "gay agenda" includes?
Marriage equality is a big item. Translated into conservative-speak, it means threatening traditional marriage.
"We believe the core goal of the homosexual movement is to abolish the traditional, Judeo-Christian view of human sexuality, marriage and family. In that regard, the homosexual movement is the latest and most radical manifestation of the Sexual Revolution," states the website for the American Family Association, which describes itself as being on "the frontlines of America's culture war."
The war on marriage is being waged state by state. As of Dec. 2, 15 states plus the District of Columbia are performing same-sex marriages, five allow civil unions or domestic partnerships, and 29 have constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Marriages between men and women across the country are being assaulted by same-sex couples who want their own piece of wedded bliss, and the benefits that come with it.
But as these groups will tell you, once you allow same-sex marriage, it's a slippery slope to polygamy and bestiality.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court found the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states, was unconstitutional. Before that, "don't ask, don't tell" was repealed, allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
In reaction to the DOMA ruling, Southern Baptists, almost half of all military chaplains (as well as Roman Catholics and other conservative chaplain endorsers), issued guidelines to "clarify the ministry expectations for all military and VA chaplains endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention."
"Southern Baptists believe that ‘all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality and pornography' (Article XV, BFM) are condemned by Holy Scripture as sin," the memo states.
So, for service members practicing "sexual immorality" by being gay or lesbian, these military chaplains cannot conduct or attend same-sex weddings, offer couples counseling, or lead or assist same-sex relational events on or off a military installation. You know, anything "that would give the appearance of accepting the homosexual lifestyle or sexual wrongdoing."
Groups like these also equate LGBT folks with the mentally ill and pedophiles. Using junk "science," FRC's pamphlet, "The Top Ten Myths About Homosexuality," states that homosexuals experience higher levels of mental illness and substance abuse than heterosexuals and that the rate of child sexual abuse among homosexuals is far higher than it is among heterosexuals.
In a post on its website, the First Coast Tea Party urges its members to contact Atlantic Beach's mayor and City Commission to tell them to oppose "special" rights for the LGBT community.
"Remind them they are elected to defend the Constitution and our religious liberty," the post states.
"Religious liberty" is another term often bandied about. Before the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," anyone in military service could make negative comments about fellow gay, lesbian or bisexual service members and their families without fear of repercussions from their commanders. A "conscience protection" provision proposed for the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act would reinstate this privilege, an attempt to use "religious liberty" as a disguise for discrimination.
Although groups like these are loud, they are the vocal minority. Polls this year show most people support LGBT equal rights at national, state and local levels.
The real "gay agenda" is simply to recognize — equally — LGBT relationships through our most respected institutions.
The ordinance being considered in Atlantic Beach would protect against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on age, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, marital status, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation or veteran's status. If passed, it would accomplish what Jacksonville has not. The next Commission meeting is scheduled for Dec. 9.
Do these sound like "special" rights? What is so "special" about being treated equally?
What do these groups really fear is on the "gay agenda"? Perhaps it's being homogenized — literally. They think the LGBT team is out to recruit them.