News - June 1996

New book on gay rights published

On its jacket, the book has a quote from Larry Kramer which reads: "A very important book. Every lesbian and gay man should read it and then give a copy to every straight person they know."

The book is "Created Equal: Why Gay Rights Matter to America" by Michael Nava & Robert Dawidoff.

The preface to the book lists the basic arguments at the core of the book:

  1. The purpose of American constitutional government is the protection of individual rights.

  2. Gays and lesbians, as American citizens, are entitled to the exercise of those rights.

  3. Demonstrably, they are denied free exercise of those rights.

  4. The grounds given for denying gays and lesbians their rights are rooted in ignorance and bias.

  5. The organized opponents of gay rights, who exploit this ignorance and bias, would substitute sectarian religious morality in place of constitutional guarantees that allow individuals to determine how best to live their lives.

  6. These forces are using the issue of gay rights as a test case in order to promote a broader agenda, the purpose of which is to limit individuality itself.

...it is not enough to come to a purely private reconciliation with being homosexual. In our culture, the division between private lives and public lives is neither self-evident nor clearly demarcated. Law, custom, and public policy promote specific models of acceptable private life by rewarding some forms of relationships between people and punishing others.

The institution of marriage, with all its social and economic benefits, encourages and rewards heterosexual unions, while sodomy laws discourage and punish homosexual ones.

Understanding that the government is not neutral is the sphere of private sexuality, we came to question its preference for heterosexuality to the exclusion of homosexuality, in light of our personal experience and our understanding of constitutional principles of privacy and equal protection of the law.

The doctrine of privacy suggests that a major component of personal freedom is the right of people to live their lives without fear of unwarranted government intrusion.

Equal protection requires that distinctions causing unequal treatment of citizens must be justified by something more than a prevailing [and presently exploited] prejudice against an unpopular social minority. ...think about our status not "as homosexuals" but as American citizens to whom constitutional principle seemingly guarantees the exercise of individual liberty.

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