Last edited: January 02, 2005


Letters: Gay Rights as Source of Strength

Baltimore Sun, July 5, 2003
501 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21278
Fax: 410-332-6977

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 strength.

—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 28).

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 society.

—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 crime.

Domestic violence can occur in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.

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 domestic violence.

—Blaine A. Hoffmann, Baltimore The writer is a staff attorney for the House of Ruth women’s shelter.

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