SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- In upholding a lower court ruling that the Communications Decency Act is unconstitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court has ensured that the Internet remain a safe haven for queer and questioning youth.
Oasis queer youth webzine (http://www.oasismag.com/) has supported the ACLU's efforts from the beginning to ensure this harmful legislation would not be enforced.
"Enforcing this legislation would have been detrimental to sites like Oasis, which provide resources and support to queer and questioning youth. With the vague language of the CDA, Oasis would have been a prime target for this legislation," said Jeff Walsh, Oasis' editor and publisher.
Under the CDA, it would be a crime to display or transmit "indecent" or "patently offensive" material to minors. Violating the law would have been punishable by two years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
"Oasis has helped so many people feel better about their sexuality and less alone in their daily lives, the only indecency would have been if we were forced to stop publishing it," Walsh said.
Walsh said he anticipates more challenges to free speech on the Internet.
"There are just too many groups like the Christian Coalition and Concerned Women for America whose entire existence is based on marginalizing everyone else's lives to attain their narrow vision of what is decent and good," Walsh said. "Fortunately, the ACLU and gay youth advocates such as Patricia Nell Warren, who spoke before the Philadelphia lower court on behalf of queer youth, continue to challenge legislation which suppress other people's freedoms."
Walsh also noted that many "filtering" software applications being used by libraries and schools block gay pages by default. He said that Oasis and other groups are still looking to work with those companies to ensure education sites such as Oasis can continue to be accessed by America's youth.
Oasis, which began publication in December 1995, has served over 300,000 readers since its inception. It has featured cover stories on Camille Paglia, Candace Gingrich, Michelangelo Signorile, Gabriel Rotello and other openly gay activists, authors and performers. It is edited and published by Jeff Walsh, of San Francisco, Calif., and features over 35 regular columnists ranging in age from 14 to mid-20s. Oasis is a partner of PlanetOut.