Department of Amplification

We were pleased that so many readers took the time to respond to "The Homosexual Agenda" (October 6; see Correspondence, November 3 and November 17). Rather than reply to each, we’d like to amplify briefly two points.

On politics The editorial was about politics and the entrance of gays and lesbians into the political arena. There is an agenda-why not call it a homosexual agenda?-just as there has been a black agenda, a feminist agenda, a labor-union agenda. Entering the political arena puts proposals to the test: the whole society gets to debate their merits and vote them up or down. That’s what makes politics a risky business. Some gay and lesbian spokespersons, and at least some news coverage, view criticism of the homosexual agenda, especially criticism of same-sex unions, as a form of bigotry. We think this sort of language should be avoided. The resort to accusations of racism or sexism in recent public debates about affirmative action and reproductive "choice" made political deliberation rancorous and distorted the real issues at stake. In a similar sense, we think there are honest and reasoned arguments against same-sex unions; they should be given a fair chance to enter the debate without having the moral integrity of persons expressing such views questioned at every turn. Seeking judicial fiats for same-sex unions short-circuits the debate that is the responsibility of legislative bodies. The Vermont Supreme Court effectively ordered the legislature to apply civil-union rules to homosexual couples. At least some of Vermont’s citizens vowed to throw out legislators who complied. That’s democracy.

On remedies In commenting on the turn to the courts for remedies against discrimination, we did not offer a pain-and-suffering equation that ruled in African Americans and ruled out women and homosexuals. We simply pointed to a historical fact: the consequences, first of slavery, later segregation, and finally discrimination, prevented many in the African-American community from having an equal opportunity in this society. As a society, we owed African Americans redress for great historical wrongs. It is at least debatable that this is so for women and gays.

We are sure this will clarify matters.

Published in the 2000-12-01 issue: 
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