June 21, 2007
Waking up on the wrong side
Posted by: Chris
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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