• Gay BlogAds

  • Gay News Watch

  • Chris Tweets

  • « Blog groveling for Gravel | Main | Something rotten in the Senate »

    July 19, 2007

    Lose some even winning some

    Posted by: Chris

    For those of  you keeping track of when we gays are on the wrong side of civil rights battles, of when our activists fail to keep their eyes on the prize, consider two more examples from our progressive friends in the U.K. and Canada.

    Johnreaneyihr_228x223 First there's merry olde England, where gay groups are celebrating the victory of John Reaney, a gay man who won his case before an employment tribunal. Reaney had applied to be a youth worker for the Church of England and was shocked during his job interview with the Bishop of Hereford, Rt. Rev. Antony Priddis, about his sex life. Priddis' position was that anyone, gay or straight, involved in a sexual relationship outside of marriage would be turned down for the position.

    Bishopofhereford185_155383a This is a gay rights triumph? The government stepping in and telling a church that it cannot follow its own religious code in its hiring decisions? I call it a gay rights nightmare. Not only do I think church-state separation ought to be a two-way street, but the right reverend's position, however wrongheaded, was consistent as to sexual orientation.

    Yes I know that gays can't marry (even in England, where civil partnerships are civil union equivalents) and  yes I know that the Church of England is not "separated" from state the way religious faiths are on our side of the pond. That's beside the point. The gay rights movement is about ensuring equal treatment by our government and equal opportunity in the workplace. It's not about forcing churches to make exceptions to their own teaching in the hiring of youth workers.

    Steveboissoin Then there's our friends up north, in Canada, where yet another minister has gotten himself into hot water with the gays. Youth pastor Stephen Boissoin wrote a letter to his local newspaper, the Red Deer Advocate, warning the populace of the evil gay menace.  Here's what he wrote, taken from a report on Canada.com:

    "From kindergarten class on, our children, your grandchildren are being strategically targeted, psychologically abused and brainwashed by homosexual and pro-homosexual educators," he wrote. "Your children are being warped into believing that same-sex families are acceptable; that kissing men is appropriate."

    Boissoin went on to attack gay activists as "spreading their psychological disease," saying they were "just as immoral as the pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps that plague our communities."

    This diatribe upset Darren Lund, even though he's not gay but is (or was) a high school teacher, so he filed a complaint with the human rights tribunal in the Alberta province. He's even arguing that Boissoin's letter is to blame for "fostering the hate" that led to a gay bashing two weeks later. The Alberta government is backing Lund's claim, he's been called a "Peace Hero" by the Action Committee Against Violence, and Exemplary Multicultural Educator of the Year by the Canadian Council for Multicultural and Intercultural Education.

    Lund21 Thankfully, the gay rights group EGALE (Equality for Gays & Lesbians Everywhere) has said — and bless them for this! — that Boisson has a right to express his views, however despicable, in the public arena. EGALE has it exactly right, and we should join in telling Lund thanks, but no thanks, for being straight, supportive and unfortunately narrow. It ought to be anathema to anyone who believes in civil liberties along side their civil rights that someone could be brought up on charges for a letter to their local newspaper. You don't get more core "free speech" than that.

    And, of course, the worst part about the Reaneys and the Lunds of the world pushing at the margins of civil rights protections for gays is what it does to the rest of us. Those of us who live in places where the battle to decide if we have these rights is not yet decided, even in core disputes like being fired from your job or beaten up in the streets for being gay.

    Knowing that fair-minded majorities will side with us on those example, are opponents are forever on the lookout for thoughtless efforts like Reaney's and Lund's, so they can scare those same fair-minded people into believing the cure we offer is worse than what ails.

    Shame on Reaney and Lund all of their supporters for not understanding that. Why we oughta sue…



    TrackBack URL for this entry:


    1. Randy on Jul 19, 2007 8:38:27 PM:

      Wow. I am sitting here rubbing my eyes in disbelief.

      Good for you for defending free speech and religious liberty. I hope that doesn't sound condescending. Not that you were trying but you genuinely earned some respect from me after this post.

      All along reasonable Christians who have disagreed with your definition of rights and the way to go about them have been pointing out the potentials for abuse. Now those warnings are manifesting. It's not that we don't want tolerance, dignity and respect ... we don't want bad legislation in the name of "rights" that have the potential to threaten religious liberty.

      There is nothing civil about gaining "rights" by oppressing freedom of speech and religion.

      Christians said that these type of public policy measures would only be used to punish Christians or Christian organizations. These two cases, plus the others, are setting a pretty good precedent that this has come true.

      For myself and the people I know it isn't about fear mongering, it's about obvious outcomes of shoddy, unnecessary or outright bad public policy.

    1. Citizen Crain on Jul 19, 2007 10:17:51 PM:

      Thanks for the begrudging respect, Randy, but there is of course more to the story. The Canadian and UK excesses are not inevitable, and safeguards have been built into the U.S. legislation to avoid them.

      The Employment Non-Discrimination Act expressly does NOT apply to churches, and the Matthew Shepard hate crimes bill does not prohibit any form of speech, religious or otherwise. Even if it did, the First Amendment would prevent its enforcement in situations like that in Canada. But the U.S. law doesn't even prohibit any actions, including violence, that aren't already illegal under existing federal, state or local laws. It only assists in the prosecution of crimes that are motivated by bias and enhances the punishment for those offenses.

      So while I will join in condemning the excesses in Canada and the U.K., you are only fulfilling my warning about how conservatives will misuse these excess to argue against our equality in the U.S.

    1. Brian Miller on Jul 20, 2007 5:39:37 PM:

      Chris, I'm sorta surprised that you haven't yet seen the link between "hate crime" laws and the treatment that the odious preacher in Alberta received.

    1. Randy on Jul 20, 2007 7:22:00 PM:

      Well, I promise there is no "begrudging" about giving you respect and you are welcome.

      Of course you are still wrong in your generalization of the Christian "right's" opposition. I know some, who do fit that bill but the folks I work with don't.

      ... but ... ::: grin ::: I don't know that a comment debate would change either of our minds.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

    © Citizen Crain - All Rights Reserved | Design by E.Webscapes Design Studio | Powered by: TypePad