Last edited: February 14, 2005

Guest Column: Specter of Taliban Raised in Alabama Judge’s Attack on Gays

The Commercial Appeal, March 1, 2002
P. O. Box 334, Memphis, TN 38101
Fax: 901-529-6445

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 evil" rhetoric.

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

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