Guest Column: Specter of Taliban Raised in Alabama Judge’s Attack on Gays
Appeal, March 1, 2002
P. O. Box 334, Memphis, TN 38101
By Jim Maynard
In a recent ruling that removed custody of three children from their
lesbian mother, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore attacked gays
and lesbians in a manner reminiscent of the Taliban.
Citing biblical authority, Moore called homosexuality "an inherent
evil," a "detestable and abominable sin," and "an act so
heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it."
He suggested that execution is an appropriate penalty for gay people:
"The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit
with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use
that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not
encourage a criminal lifestyle."
A few weeks ago, Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally in the "war on
terrorism," beheaded three men accused of engaging in homosexual acts, in
what it called accordance with Islamic law. The Taliban, which ruled
Afghanistan until recently, used to topple brick walls over suspected
homosexuals to kill them.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has reported a
series of harsh sentences and executions of suspected homosexuals in Saudi
Arabia, Egypt and other Islamic nations that are allies of the United States.
While the war on terrorism has brought much talk of freedom, democracy and
human rights, these countries have escaped President Bush’s "axis of
At the same time, since Sept. 11 the religious right in the United States
has intensified its attacks on gays and lesbians as part of its grander vision
of establishing a theocratic government similar to that of Islamic countries.
Chief Justice Moore had washing machine-sized monuments of the Ten
Commandments placed in the state judicial building in Montgomery. He fought to
keep a Ten Commandments plaque in his courtroom when he was a district judge.
His violation of the constitutional mandate of separation of church and state
makes Moore unfit to serve as a judge.
Moore declared the lesbian mother an "unfit parent," but the
scientific and legal evidence is totally at odds with that opinion.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, has announced its support
of the right of gay men and lesbians to adopt their partners’ children.
Based on a review of two decades of scientific literature, the AAP study found
that the children of gay or lesbian parents were as well adjusted socially and
psychologically as the children of heterosexual parents.
The American Psychological Association reports that "not a single
study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any
significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents." The
Child Welfare League of America, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children support
evaluating gay and lesbian applicants for adoption just as heterosexual
applicants are evaluated.
Moore based his decision not on the law, scientific research or what is
best for the children in the case. Rather, he based it on his personal
religious beliefs and his interpretation of the Bible.
Predictably, the religious right came to his defense. The Christian
Coalition, for example, said Moore’s decision protected the institution of
marriage and strengthened the "traditional family."
In recent months, such groups as the American Family Association, the
Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition have stepped up
their anti-gay attacks across the country. James Dobson’s Focus on the
Family is pushing its anti-gay agenda with increasing vigor, fighting attempts
to give equal rights and benefits to gays and lesbians.
These attacks on the civil rights of gays and lesbians go beyond that
segment of our society to the heart of our constitutional government. Do we
want to live in a country that is governed by a secular constitution, or in a
theocratic state based on the Bible or the Koran?
If you want to know what happens in a country that judges its citizens
according to religious texts rather than a secular, religion-neutral
constitution—look at Saudi Arabia.
Guest columnist Jim Maynard is vice chair of Equality Tennessee. Equality
Tennessee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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