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    June 21, 2007

    Waking up on the wrong side

    Posted by: Chris

    Melbournegaybar It's 'gays only' at Tom McFeely's bar (above) in Melbourne, Australia, which won the right to exclude heterosexuals so gay men aren't forced to deal with 'hens' night out.' (Photo courtesy of AFP)

    Having spent the last 15 years of my life involved in one way or another in the movement for gay rights, I'll risk my credentials in saying some days I wake up and think we're on the wrong side of things.

    Not generally, mind you. And not on any of the big issues. But some gay folks have got a crazy mixed-up idea of what gay rights laws ought to be used for.  A few examples:

    Tom McFeely is unapologetic for seeking an anti-discrimination exemption for his Melbourne gay club to refuse entry to heterosexuals and lesbians. The Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal granted a three-year exemption for the Peel Hotel last week, accepting McFeely’s claim that gay men felt uncomfortable with the number of heterosexuals and lesbians in the venue. “When it came to the stage where a gay guy can feel uncomfortable in a gay club, that’s when I felt I needed to do something about it,” McFeely said. Contrary to media reports, he said fear of violence was not the motivation. “We don’t really get any violence at the Peel. Historically the only violence has come from lesbians, particularly when they start fighting around the pool table,” he said. “It does make gay guys uncomfortable. That’s partly why I also put lesbians in this exemption.”

    A woman who was turned away from a Montreal gay bar has filed a human rights complaint. Audrey Vachon was recently refused service at Le Stud in Montreal's gay village after sitting down with her father for a quiet afternoon pint. A waiter came over and told her father, Gilles, that the bar doesn't serve women. Vachon, 20, says the waiter avoided looking at her during the conversation. "On the spot I didn't believe it, I thought it was a bad joke," Vachon said. "I didn't say a word until I'd left. I was too shocked. I was embarrassed, I was humiliated, I felt guilty that I'd even gone there, like I'd done something wrong."

    The popular online dating service eHarmony was sued today for refusing to offer its services to gays and bisexuals. A suit alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Linda Carlson, who was denied access to eHarmony because she is gay. Lawyers bringing the action said they believed it was the first lawsuit of its kind against eHarmony, which has long rankled the gay community with its failure to offer a "men seeking men" or "women seeking women" option. They were seeking to make it a class action lawsuit on behalf of gay men and lesbians denied access to the dating service. eHarmony was founded in 2000 by evangelical Christian Dr. Neil Clark Warren and had strong early ties with the influential religious conservative group Focus on the Family.

    A lesbian couple barred from holding their civil union ceremony at a beachfront pavilion in Ocean Grove, N.J., has filed a state civil rights complaint against the church group that owns the property. The couple, Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster alleged in a complaint filed two days ago with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights that they were denied use of the boardwalk pavilion because of their pending status as same-sex civil union partners. "They have weddings there all the time," said Bernstein, a semi-retired educational consultant. "We wanted to have our ceremony on the boardwalk, on the beach, because it's a beautiful setting, just like any married couple would want to do." Division on Civil Rights Director Frank Vespa-Papaleo said the complaint was the first to deal with discrimination in public places under New Jersey's new civil union law, which took effect in February.

    Prosecutors dropped a felony hate-crime charge today against one of two female high school students accused of handing out an anti-gay fliers at their suburban school. In exchange, the 16-year-old pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and resisting a peace officer, both misdemeanors. She faces punishments ranging from court supervision to juvenile detention at a hearing scheduled for Aug. 13. Authorities say the teens handed out fliers at Crystal Lake South High School with a picture of two males kissing and hateful language about gays.

    For the most part, these cases show how gays who live in the friendliest of places are willing to fight "civil rights battles" on the very margins of what the law allows. They do so oblivious to how they play right into the trap that gay rights is really "politically correctness" run amok.  And worse yet, they recklessly endanger the ability of gays elsewhere to enact the very type of laws they are bending out of shape.

    A vote for civil union laws is a vote to force churches to perform gay weddings! All the opposition has to do is cite the incredibly lame-brained lawsuit out of New Jersey.

    A vote for hate crime laws will make a crime out of free speech! A quick reference to the out-of-control prosecutor in the high school flier case should suffice.

    "Tolerance" for gays is a one-way street!
    Sure sounds that way when gay bar owners want the right to exclude heteros or women to preserve their own "safe space"; something no one else is allowed. Cyberspace isn't even safe from lawsuit-happy lesbians, who think they're (somewhat justified) "offense" over eHarmony's exclusion of gay relationships somehow amounts to a "civil right."

    With so many example of real-life, down-and-dirty actual discrimination and mistreatment of gay people worldwide, you'd think our more fortunate brothers and sisters in the gay-friendliest of places would tone down the "offense" setting on their P.C. meter long enough to let the rest of us win some basic equality.

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    Comments

    1. Joseph Kowalski on Jun 21, 2007 8:19:27 PM:

      I agree with you completely.

      What many gay people fail to realize is that with equal rights, comes equal responsibilities.

      All of these frivolous lawsuits to gain "special rights" endanger the very real necessity for equal rights.

    1. George on Jun 22, 2007 2:19:21 PM:

      I recognize the absurdity and borderline nature of some of the examples you list, and agree with the general point you are making. Still, I thought it was worth pointing out that in many cases which the media are eager and quick to decry as egregious examples of political correctness run amok, we should perhaps pause before we join and dismiss, ridicule, and trivialize.

      The two high-school girls you mention are a good case in point, and the news-quote you cite demonstrates how easy it is to represent a possibly justified legal action as unreasonable.

      Based on the limited online sources available, I understood that the girls were NOT charged because they "handed out fliers [...] with a picture of two males kissing and hateful language about gays," in which case their right to do so is protected by the 1st amendment, no matter how much one may disagree with their views.

      As far as I could tell, they were charged because they distributed, in a school parking lot, a flier that included the pictures of two boys from their school, kissing (not some anonymous stock photo of "males kissing"), they identified (at least) one of the boys by name, and included "inflammatory words" (the papers give us no further clue here, so I’ll venture a guess) that were most likely meant to incite others to actions that would target and harm those specific two individuals. This is very different from expressing a general opinion on a political issue in a publicly distributed flier.

      It is also interesting to note that the Chicago Tribune chose to run a headline that declared "Charge dropped over anti-gay flier" (the charges were in fact only reduced as a result of a plea-bargain) rather than, for example: "Teen pleads guilty, after inciting school violence."

    1. Michael C on Jun 22, 2007 2:24:54 PM:

      Mmm... no. Sorry. As long as womyn insist on having "womyn only safe space" and other anti-male b.s. (women only fitness centers, anyone?) then it should be absolutely ok to have men only spaces. So tired of hearing about how much more oppressed women are than men, blah blah blah. No more excuses for the I'm the more oppressed minority than you game and the excuses they use.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Jun 23, 2007 9:11:18 PM:

      "As far as I could tell, they were charged because they distributed, in a school parking lot, a flier that included the pictures of two boys from their school, kissing (not some anonymous stock photo of "males kissing"), they identified (at least) one of the boys by name, and included "inflammatory words" (the papers give us no further clue here, so I’ll venture a guess) that were most likely meant to incite others to actions that would target and harm those specific two individuals. This is very different from expressing a general opinion on a political issue in a publicly distributed flier."

      Sort of like blogger/commentator Mike Signorile and blogger JoeMyGod putting up pictures of a specific conservative gay person, having comments published on their blogs about how that person needs to be harmed, and then allowing the name, address, and phone numbers of the individual AND of the individual's parents to be published, with an encouragement for use.

      ( http://www.interstateq.com/archives/2121/ )

      Can we have them arrested and sent to jail, too?

    1. Brian Miller on Jun 27, 2007 7:39:14 PM:

      What those lawsuits illustrate is the reality that "nondiscrimination" laws hurt gay people as much as straight people. Why should gay bars be forced to open up to any old patron?

      Further, ever notice that "nondiscrimination" is never about the supposed "injustice" that happens around the country where people lose their jobs for being gay? When all is said and done, those situations are extremely rare.

      Rather, those laws are used to force gay bars to open up to straight hen parties, or force Christian web sites to matchmake lesbians. Its absurd. Whatever happened to freedom of association?

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