On February 10, there were 11 states with gay-rights laws. The following day, there were 10. In what The New York Times called "a landmark victory for Christian conservatives," voters in Maine, home of pine-scented liberalism, became the first in the nation to repeal a gay- rights law enacted by a state legislature.
In Washington state last November, activists tried to pass gay rights by referendum. Their proposal was rejected by a 60% vote.
After paying for its petition drive, Maine repeal forces (the "People's Veto") had $50,000 left for advertising. Gay activists and their allies spent more than $750,000.
Angus King, the state's popular governor, was the chief spokesman for the opposition. Maine's entire congressional delegation opposed repeal, as did every major media outlet in the state. All the People's Veto had was 1,700 volunteers and the pervasive unease of Middle America for what is proffered as an alternative lifestyle.
And they had one more advantage:
The other side's arguments won't stand up to the scrutiny of a ballot campaign.
In their literature, the People's Veto posed seven questions, including: "Do you believe that church-mn schools and day-care centers should be protected from lawsuits by homosexual activists?" and "Should parents object to the teaching of homosexuality as a normal lifestyle in the public schools."
Answer yes to any of these, and you must vote for repeal, it urged.
Gary Bauer's American Renewal ran full-page ads in papers in Portland and Bangor, which read in part: "Minority classifications have been generally defined to give special protection only to those who can prove three things: unchangeable characteristics, proof of widespread discrimination and political powerlessness. Anything else is bogus."
Gay rights fail on all three grounds. It has never been demonstrated that homosexuality is immutable. To the contrary, thousands of former homosexuals eloquently refute the genetic theory. Gays earn more and are more likely to live in upscale areas than the average American.
As for rampant discrimination in employment, the ad notes that five years after Portland passed a gay-rights ordinance coveringjob bias, exactly two lawsuits were filed. Both were settled when it became apparent that plaintiffs were fired because they couldn't do the work required.
The optimism of family activists must be tempered by the realization that acceptance of homosexuality continues to advance throughout the culture. Hollywood ceaselessly pushes an idealized view of gays as uniformly funny, charming, happy people whose only problem is lack of understanding among heterosexuals.
The Oscar-nominated film As Good As It Gets is a case in point. The gay neighbor, played by the appealing young actor Greg Kinnear, is warm, witty and generous.
Jack Nicholson's character, a compulsive personality, hates homosexuals - and blacks and Jews. Message: Objecting to homosexuality is probably a sign of mental illness and certainly on par with
racism and anti-Semitism.
The political establishment is almost as helpful as Hollywood. Despite the votes in Maine and Washington (and San Antonio, where a citizens revolt last month forced the city council to reverse itself on a gay-rights ordinance), legislatures in Maryland and Iowa are considering gay-rights laws.
President Clinton, who has put normalizing homosexuality high on his agenda, has nominated gay activist millionaire James C. Hormel to be ambassador to Luxembourg, a nation that's 97% Catholic.
At the polls, pro-family forces win victory after victory. In the culture and political arena, the opposition has a distinct advantage. The question becomes, how long can common sense bolstered by traditional morality hold out?
The story in the February 8 New York Times Magazine ("The Homosexual Exception") laments a new study showing that "suburban Americans are sur prisingly tolerant - of everyone but gay men and lesbians.... Middle-class Ameri cans have not come to the conclusion that homosexuality represents an alternative that is the moral equal of any other." Nor will they, while the nation retains its sanity.
This is still (barely) a democracy. How rnany times do we have to say "no" - to domestic-partners ordinances, gay marriage, efforts to coerce the Boy Scouts and public school indoctrination - before the elite takes this resounding negative as an answer?
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