How America should react to homosexuals? How America should react to homosexualsMany experts agree that homosexuality has existed as long as human beingsthemselves, although the attitude towards them has undergone dramatic changes insome countries.
Accepted by many societies during Greek and Roman era, most ofthe time homosexuals were considered to be sinners against nature and evencriminals. In Medieval and modern periods homosexuals were prosecuted. Enlightenment brought some liberation, substituting death penalty byimprisonment. In Nazi Germany so-called “doctors” tried to”cure” gays by the ways of castration and extreme intimidation. Until1973 attempts to find a cure against homosexuality, what by majority was viewedas a disease, were continued.
Today, when research on twins suggests that sexualorientation is not a choice, but our genetic predisposition, homosexual acts arestill considered to be immoral and even illegal in majority of countries and inthe eyes of most religious groups homosexuals, probably, always will be thesubjects of anathema. As much as the future may look gloomy for many gays andlesbians all over the world, there are remarkable changes in public opinion andofficials’ attitudes toward homosexuals in some countries. For example, in1989 Denmark was the first to allow the same-sex marriage. In the United Statesthe subject of homosexuality remains controversial. For example, In Hawaii threehomosexual couples asked the court to recognize their right to get married andthe court did.
However, the state government refused to legalize this marriage. Consequently, a new amendment was introduced to the state Constitution. At thesame time, majority of the states are not even considering this option andhomosexuality itself is still illegal there. Still, not only authorities try todetermine the position they should take towards homosexuals, many commonAmericans also have no clear understanding of how to react to homosexuality. Whyshould we bother to find the answer to the questions: who are the homosexualsand where do they belong in our society? First of all, it is important torealize that homosexuals are an integral part of our society.
Your neighbor,your co-worker, your hairdresser, your child and even your spouse can be one ofthem. According to Richard D. Mohr “wo out of five men one passes on thestreet have had orgasmic sex with men. Every second family in the country has amember who is essentially homosexual and many more people regularly havehomosexual experiences”(186). Should we avoid them, ignore, express ouranger and disgust? Unfortunately, many people feel that way because they have aremote idea about people of different sexual orientation. For them homosexualityis perversion, abnormality or decease.
The ignorance may foster fear, which inits turn leads to hostility. Homophobia is dangerous, because it affects allgroups of people ? heterosexuals and homosexuals, grown-ups and children, menand women. It may lead to violence and even death. There are numerous cases whenpeople were actually killed because of homophobia. To name few of them ?Matthew Shepard(homosexual), John Braun (heterosexual), Steve Kennedy(homosexual) and the list can be continued.
Prejudice against homosexualitysharply limits how all men and women may acceptably behave, among themselves andwith each other. It is obvious that we can no longer pretend that the homosexualissue is none of our concern. In attempt to evaluate our attitude towards peopleof different sexual orientation we will be able to understand them better. Whatis more important, we may overcome our prejudice, which often results indiscrimination of one group against another.
To acknowledge that there arepeople who are different and learn to tolerate them means to live in a saferworld. The next question is: Do we have the right to discriminate againsthomosexuals? Until recently homosexuals were invisible minority. Therefore, manyAmericans were unaware that gays and lesbians were discriminated against. Buthomosexuals were and still are treated unfairly on the basis that they undermineour morality, that they present danger to our children and that they aretransmitters of AIDS far more than heterosexuals. Today many gays and lesbianscome out of “the closet” and demand the same rights that heterosexualtake for granted.
We have to admit that some steps have been made to protecthomosexuals. However, many government and public institutions and individualsstill discriminate against homosexuals denying them employment, housing,insurance, marriage, child’s custody and so on. Why is it allowed todiscriminate against people who have different sexual orientation? Some may putforward arguments that being gay is immoral, that it is illegal, that it is asin against nature and violation of God’s law and, some people considerhomosexual variety proof of existence of Satan . Some homophobics qualifyhomosexual behavior akin to lying and stealing and, therefore, support the ideathat gays and lesbians deserve to suffer.
As Pete Hamill points out,”. . . gay-bashing is real; homosexuals are routinely injured or murderedevery day, all over the world, by people who fear or hate their version of humansexuality”(532).
But as was mentioned above, the medical studies confirmthat being gay is not a matter of choice or preference, but a deviation fromnormal sexuality, which lays in genes and hardly can be changed. Given a choicemany would have preferred not to be homosexual. It is hard to imagine thesomebody would voluntary give up all the privileges of being straight andsubject himself to harassment, discrimination, assaults and scorn. Some arguethat the homosexual act is unnatural since it is not procreative.
Then whydon’t we discriminate against sterile couples or those of over childbearingage? Others express their concern that by granting homosexuals rights we willgive our blessing to other forms of sexual perversions such polygamy andpedophillia, for example. Here it is important to notice, that for one,pedophillia is not necessary a homosexual act. Secondly, it is immoral andunlawful because one of the partners in this case is a child or a teenager whomore often than not has no other choice than to yield to the power of the adult. As Joseph Geraci and Donald H. Mader point out “the power imbalance betweenthe adult and the younger partner in a pedophille relationship is so great thatit inevitably leads to coercion and exploitation” (969). Unlike pedophillia,a homosexual act is consent between two adults, no harm to others is done andwith our bodies we are free to do whatever we please.
Therefore, there is nopoint to call it illegal. Moreover, discrimination against people of differentsexual orientation will be a violation of the constitution, which guaranteescommon rights for everybody. Thus, despite our own preference we have neithermoral nor legal right to discriminate against them. As for disapproval ofdifferent religions of homosexuality, everyone should have the “freedom togo to hell as one wants”, as Udo Schuklenk and Tony Riley put it quotingEnlgelhardt (602). The last question that is important to discuss: Shouldhomosexuals be a protected minority? Like any other minority homosexuals deservethe protection by any government and public institution. An absence ofprotection against discrimination will result in more violence and injustice.
For a example, a gay who was beaten and harassed may not seek justice in courtbecause by doing so he puts himself and his loved one in the open position forfurther discrimination. Most homosexuals prefer not to engage themselves in suchprocedures for fear of losing more. Therefore, while heterosexuals feel freevictimize them in different ways, homosexuals can not even exercise the rightsgiven them by law. Some may argue that homosexuals themselves often causetrouble. “Gay activists harass doctors, disrupt public meetings, and screamself-righteously about their “rage””(Hamill 534).
It is hard todismiss this point, but by denying homosexuals their rights one can not stopviolence. Only by accepting them into the society on the same terms as we acceptheterosexuals will give us a chance to stop the escalating rage from both sides. Other opponents of homosexuality argue that granting gays and lesbians the sameprotection under law that is granted to other minorities is to give them”special privileges”. But homosexuals do not ask for “specialprivileges”. They want the same rights as heterosexuals ? the right tohave a job they want and be treated according to their skills and performance atwork, but not by the fact that they share their bedrooms with the same-sexpartners. They want to live in the house they like and be judged according totheir action, but not for who they are.
They want the same benefits from theiremployers and insurance companies as heterosexuals have. Finally, they want toget married and have children, but those basic human choices cause the maindisagreement among heterosexuals. As was mentioned above, there are manyfamilies with homosexual members. Some parents are disappointed that their childwill never be married and they will never have grandchildren, but most of thoseparents still want to see their children happy and hope that they will findsomebody to love and share their life.
Why should not society find it possibleto share the same maturity. Moreover, in the wake of AIDS encouraging gaymonogamy is simply rational public policy. However, according to Washington Postpoll 70 percent of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, yet only 53 percentoppose homosexual relationship between consenting adults (Francoure 246). Somewill argue that one of the family’s function is it conceive and raisechildren. But today sex is not the only way to have a child.
It can be conceivedin vitro through sperm and eggs donors or by surrogate mother, and there isalways such option as adoption. In addition, the wide spread opinion thathomosexuals will raise children who also will be homosexuals has no scientificevidence. To the contrary, some studies show that the sexuality of a child isdetermined very early, perhaps at conception and it is very unlikely thatparents can have influence on his or her sexual orientation. As one can see,there is no justification to deny homosexuals their rights. In addition, ifthere is no other way we can provide gays and lesbians with those rights withoutmaking them a privileged group this is not their fault. Since homosexuals oftenare the subject of harassment, violence, mistreatment, discrimination, orillness for no fault of their own we should chose the position which will allowthem to have the same rights as heterosexuals do.
As science and technologymoves forward, we easily accept changes in the outside world, and yet we arereluctant to leave our beliefs and prejudices behind. I hope that people arebecoming smarter not only in developing sophisticated methods, producing andoperating complex devices, but also in understanding other human beings. It istime to abandon our ancient prejudice about homosexuality and start thinkreasonably. We have to acknowledge the scientific fact that being gay is not adecease, not a curse, not an immoral act, not a preference, but just anothertype of sexuality.
Gays are a permanent minority and aren’t likely to go away. So, instead of burdening ourselves with unnecessary tension by rejecting them,we have to adjust our apprehension, accept them for who there are and treat themfairly. By doing so we will reduce violence, hate crime and stress. Is it not agood reason to overcome the last of our prejudices?Bibliography1. Francoeur, Robert T.
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Wayne R Dynes. Garland Publishing, Inc ,New York, 1990: v2, 964-970. 5. Hamill, Pete. “Confessions of aHeterosexual.
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