June 24, 2010
RICHARD J. ROSENDALL
Scandalize our brief
If you are on the Family Research Council’s email list, you may have seen this alarm from Tony Perkins in his June 16 "Washington Update":
“In Washington, D.C., where same-sex ‘marriage’ is legal (for now), the gay and lesbian crowd is just getting warmed up. ... Local groups will try to elect more homosexuals to places of power, push in-school gay-straight alliances, support D.C. sex-oriented businesses, defend adult entertainment, grant special perks to cross-dressing prisoners, force same-sex adoption, and legalize sex trafficking. ... This has never been about ‘acceptance’ or ‘equality’ but about a devastating strategy meant to destroy innocence, the family, local communities, public health, and parental authority.”
Perkins cites “Agenda: 2010,” a wide-ranging LGBT issues brief published by the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. I am the principal author. Read it at www.glaa.org. Perkins, however, credits not GLAA but "the Left." Right-wing demagogues consider all gay activists leftist. They are so horrified by the notion that gay and transgender people have a right to exist that they cannot distinguish between, say, GetEQUAL's Robin McGehee and Andrew Sullivan. The idea that we could persuade people to vote for us does them in.
Perkins claims that GLAA seeks to "sever every moral underpinning in America." This implies that Perkins has a clue about America's moral underpinnings. We are fighting for LGBT people's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How’s that for moral underpinning?
I hate breaking it to Perkins, but same-sex adoption has been legal in D.C. since a 1995 court ruling. The point is not "forcing" adoptions, but serving the best interests of the child by not arbitrarily excluding an entire group of people from consideration as parents. The science shows there is no harm to children of gay parents. On the other hand, if lies were crude oil, a child forced to listen to Perkins would resemble the brown pelicans in Grand Isle, Louisiana nowadays.
The D.C. Board of Education has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation since 1972. Perkins apparently fears that gay-straight alliances are about recruiting rather than fostering understanding. I don’t know about his high school years, but in my own case I needed no one to implant desires in me.
Transgender prisoners do not lose their rights because Perkins ignorantly dismisses them as "cross-dressers." The D.C. Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Protecting transgender detainees from harassment and assault is hardly providing "special perks."
It is amusing how the religious right gets its panties in a wad over other people enjoying adult entertainment, considering that porn consumption is reportedly highest in the Bible Belt. GLAA, in contrast, is concerned about the harm done by moralizing hypocrites who use the government to meddle in their neighbors' business. In any case, it is more than a stretch to twist our critique of prostitution laws into support for "sex trafficking," which refers to the sexual slave trade.
In fact, GLAA is not touting the joys of sexual commerce but promoting assistance to the homeless teens and transgenders who have resorted to it for survival. They need job training, substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, and transitional housing — not jail. Legalizing and regulating prostitution would provide a way to rescue sex workers from pimps and other predators. Public policies that harm vulnerable populations while helping no one deserve to be challenged.
Political advocacy like GLAA’s inevitably rocks boats, which makes even some gay people uncomfortable. Indeed, many were uncomfortable with same-sex marriage when we first advocated it in 1975. Some folks are bound to be scandalized at our proposal to regulate prostitution rather than prosecute it. But we did not broach the subject lightly, and have offered serious arguments. Sex panic notwithstanding, “shut up” is no rebuttal.