Donna Pandori

We Said No Special Rights Dag Nabbit!

Filed By Donna Pandori | August 18, 2009 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Politics

Patrick Mangan, Executive Director of the Citizens for Community Values of Indiana (CCV) submitted a scathing "opinion" in the South Bend Tribune about South Bend Mayor Steven Luecke's recent executive order. Luecke's executive order bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the employment and recruitment of city employees.

Her are some excerpts from Mr. Mangan's "article":

Activist judges aren't the only problem citizens need to contend with these days. Special rights activists promoting the homosexual agenda are now misleading the executive branch both locally and at the highest level. Locally, South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke is at it again. Failing to get the support of the community or the South Bend Common Council for his special rights ordinance three years ago when it was voted down after a thorough discussion of the issue, he has now issued an executive order to confer special rights on homosexuals as it relates to city employees. The premise is faulty because

Wait for it...

it is not appropriate to confer special status and therefore special rights on anyone based on their aberrant sexual practices. Yet that is precisely what the mayor's order seeks to do.

Note the inclusion of aberrant (abnormal, not natural) in the objection to "special rights for sexual practices".

Let's go back to the basics. There are tests for qualifying as a protected class. The first test is that the common characteristic is immutable -- that is unchangeable. The second premise is that the proposed protected class has been excluded from the educational opportunities afforded to the rest of society. Finally, it must be demonstrated that the proposed protected class has been excluded from economic opportunity.

Historically, however, whenever it was found that some "personal characteristic" other than ability and merit was being used to discriminate in employment or housing, laws have been passed to restore the merit system that's suppose to exist. The evolution of The Civil Rights Act proves this:

Civil Rights Act of 1866 - extended the rights of emancipated slaves; gave further rights to the freed slaves after the end of the American Civil War.

Civil Rights Act of 1871- also known as the Ku Klux Klan Act

Civil Rights Act of 1875 - prohibits discrimination in "public accommodations"; found unconstitutional in 1883

Civil Rights Act of 1957- established the Civil Rights Commission

Civil Rights Act of 1960 -established federal inspection of local voter registration polls

Civil Rights Act of 1964 - prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin by federal and state governments as well as some public places; . . . the bill was amended prior to passage to protect women, and explicitly included white people for the first time. It also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Civil Rights Act of 1968 - also known as the Fair Housing Act

Civil Rights Act of 1991 -providing the right to trial by jury on discrimination claims and introducing the possibility of emotional distress damages, while limiting the amount that a jury could award

But are we really talking about "special rights"? No, human rights are not "special rights", they are "civil rights". The executive order does NOT bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity for GLBT people only. It bars discrimination on this basis for ALL people. There are other personal characteristics employers and landlords are legally not allowed to use and not all of them are "immutable" - religion for example.

Citizens for Community Values of Indiana Task Force have already presented the videotaped testimonies of "former homosexuals" to the South Bend Common Council during hearings in 2006, it is clear that many who once were engaged in homosexual activity are no longer and many no longer even experience same-sex attraction. Dr. Robert Spitzer, a psychiatrist and a professor at Columbia University who led the political actions of the APA to declassify homosexuality as a disorder, reported that there is no evidence for the biologic theory after reviewing all available data.

Mr. Mangan is misleading readers by not presenting all the facts. The fact is there is no research that has been accepted by the scientific community which proves or disproves a biological link to homosexuality. Most alarming, Mr. Mangan fails to mention the dangers of reparative therapy (converting gay and lesbians to heterosexuals).

In a Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation researchers concluded:

Few studies provided strong evidence that any changes produced in laboratory conditions translated to daily life.

The longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation (Bell, Weinberg & Hammersmith, 1981; Bullough, 1976; Ford & Beach 1951; Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 1948; Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin, & Gebhard, 1953). Homosexuality per se is not a mental disorder (APA, 1975). Since 1974, the American Psychological Association (APA) has opposed stigma, prejudice, discrimination, and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and has taken a leadership role in supporting the equal rights of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals (APA, 2005).

APA is concerned about ongoing efforts to mischaracterize homosexuality and promote the notion that sexual orientation can be changed and about the resurgence of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

. . .

Studies from both periods indicate that attempts to change sexual orientation may cause or exacerbate distress and poor mental health in some individuals, including depression and suicidal thoughts.

Mangan's "opinion" provides a very eloquent use of buzz words to demonize "homosexuals", or more respectfully the GLBT community. However, in his efforts to diminish the worthiness of GLBT as human beings, Mr. Mangan has himself defined "homosexuals" as a "class" who desperately needs protection.

His most interesting argument and outcry comes in this curious last paragraph:

special rights for homosexuals is not the civil rights movement of the 21st century. The merciless deaths of nearly 50,000,000 babies to abortion since Roe v Wade testifies otherwise. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the great civil rights movement of the 21st century. When a baby is safe in its mother's womb in America, we will have the foundation for true social justice. Those trying to hijack the nobility of the civil rights movement for their own purposes to promote the homosexual agenda are on the wrong side of history.

Personally I do not favor abortion and find that entire statement offensive and not worth responding to.

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Surely the legal notion that a "protected class" characteristic must be immutable is undergoing considerable legal challenge. You mention religion, the most obvious counter-example.

But "race" as society treats it today is also mutable --- not in the sense that one can easily change genome and DNA inheritance, but in the sense that there is a certain leeway in certain situations about which racial category a person chooses to identify with.

The obvious example is our president: Mr. Obama identifies as black, although he is very frank about having a white mother. Technically, he could check the category "mixed race" on a census form if he chose to do so. Although Mr. Obama's racial identity is pretty well established, other mixed race persons might find that their racial identity shifts as the years, and their awareness of racial issues, move forward.

If this is true with race, then it also might be true with sexual orientation. Similarly, the sexual orientation that one claims as one's own involves an element of personal choice, and may be mutable over time. I won't go into a lengthy discussion here, but essentially we encounter the same problems and come to the same conclusions as with religion and race: in many legal situations, a person's sexual orientation ought to be what he or she says it is.

As for Mr. Mangan, he can invent all the arguments he wants, because ultimately, a protected class is what society and the law says it is. In fact, that is exactly why he is so worked up.

Donna Pandori Donna Pandori | August 20, 2009 9:30 AM

"But "race" as society treats it today is also mutable --- not in the sense that one can easily change genome and DNA inheritance, but in the sense that there is a certain leeway in certain situations about which racial category a person chooses to identify with>."

What an interesting perspective.

The bottom line is, the "Mangans" of the world want to retain their freedom to discriminate in employment, housing, public accomodations, etc. on the basis of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity". "Loving oppose" is the sugar coating they use to make their arguments not seem so harsh.