Letters: Gay Rights as Source of Strength
Sun, July 5, 2003
501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21278
With the political and religious responsibility of
ministry to all that has been granted to Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., he has no
business saying that government recognition of some basic human rights for
certain members of society is “bad policy, it’s pushing further the gay
and lesbian agenda” (“Ruling on gays stir up emotions,” June 28).
As Mr. Burns himself is not a gay man, I don’t
understand how he would even know the “gay and lesbian agenda,” whatever
that is. As a gay man, I don’t know what the “heterosexual agenda” is.
But if I had a “gay and lesbian agenda,” it would be
to allow all people to live in peace their lives as they are to live, to
express their love as their nature dictates and to nurture a spiritual life so
we all can minister to our fellows.
It would mean that we all would respect each other
exactly as we are, so this gay man does not have to hear his next-door
neighbor’s children call a playmate a “faggot” or “gay,” as I heard
the other night.
It would mean that all people would rise up against the
use of such disparaging words against gay and lesbian people with as much
fervor as the community did when there was controversy over the use of the
N-word against our African-American brothers and sisters.
I am proud that Maryland has added protection against
harassment in schools for gay and lesbian youths. And I think the Supreme
Court has done well to rule against sodomy laws.
Physical expressions of love, no matter what type, need
not be scrutinized by religion or government. Protection from harm and
recognition of privacy are basic rights to be afforded to all citizens.
A state or country that promotes respect for all citizens
and their differences does not suffer decline and devastation. It gains
—Mike Bernard, Baltimore
Jesus included in his compassion and love all the
socially outcast and stigmatized people of his society, all who were
supposedly displeasing to God, all who the Pharisees said were outside the law
and incapable of virtue or piety. He conspicuously made a place for these
“little ones” at his table and in his life.
Meanwhile, he called the Pharisees—who would not
acknowledge the urgings in themselves that were apart from the law and who
projected all of their own (what some might call) “deformities of soul”
outward upon lepers and others—hypocrites.
Today, some of my fellow Christians object to the Supreme
Court striking down state laws against homosexual acts of love by consenting
adults in private circumstances (“Ruling on gays stirs up emotions,” June
Words such as cultural “decline” and
“devastation” are tossed around freely, as if God will imminently be
withdrawing his support from us for “choosing our lust” over his “design
for marriage and family.”
I think these Christians are making a “Pharisee
mistake.” When they intimate that our society as a whole will reap woe for
turning “against the laws of nature,” many of them are hiding from their
own unspeakable urgings.
When they support laws to punish homosexual acts by fines
and imprisonment, it is because they project their own inner fears outward
upon society at large.
A lot of us ordinary folks have unacknowledged
propensities toward, if not homosexuality, other so-called “lusts” or
“perversions of the flesh.” If propensity were destiny, we’d all be
hell-bound. But that’s not actually the case.
In fact, I don’t believe there’s one shred of
evidence that same-gender orientation is transmissible from one person to the
next or statistically more prevalent simply because it is tolerated by
—Eric P. Stewart, Catonsville
While Marylanders are divided on whether the U.S. Supreme
Court was correct in overruling Bowers vs. Hardwick, there is one benefit of
the court’s recent ruling that we should all endorse: added protection
against domestic violence.
Gays and lesbians are now more likely to use the court
system to stop domestic violence. Why? Because, under Maryland’s protective
order statute, a court may only protect a homosexual victim of domestic
violence if that person can prove he or she is living together in an intimate
relationship with the abuser.
Since sodomy was a crime in Maryland, many gay and
lesbian Marylanders were unwilling to seek the court’s protection from
domestic violence. They feared that they would be admitting to a crime.
While the Maryland attorney general had entered into a
consent decree in 1999 basically shelving Maryland’s sodomy law, it was
still on the books. Therefore, a reasonable fear existed that by testifying to
an intimate, homosexual relationship, one was admitting the commission of a
Domestic violence can occur in both heterosexual and
Now gays and lesbians can protect themselves from their
abusers without fear of prosecution.
And surely, we can all agree that all Marylanders, no
matter what their sexual orientation, must have the right to be free from
—Blaine A. Hoffmann, Baltimore The writer is a staff
attorney for the House of Ruth women’s shelter.