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Basic information on Lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB) issues

Terminology, quotations, about the conflict,
more definitions, topics under debate.

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Important notes on terminology:

"LGB" is an acronym for: "Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual

"LGBT" is an acronym for: "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender/Transsexual.

"GLBT" is an acronym for "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual.

Sometimes, additional letters are added such as: "Q" for Queer or Questioning, and/or "I" for Intersexual.

Many of the essays linked to this menu were initially written many years ago and have been updated since as new data became available. Many used the term "homosexual" as a morally and emotionally neutral term referring to one of the three sexual orientations -- in which a person is sexually attracted only to members of the same gender. It is considered normal and natural for a minority of adults by most LGBTs, mental health professionals, human sexuality researchers, secularists, and religious liberals. It is considered a disordered behavior and an indicator of a mental illness by most conservative religious groups.

Since then, the words "homosexual" and "homosexuality" have become hate/snarl words within some faith groups. We do not intend it to be a derogatory term in this section on sexual orientation or in the rest of this web site.

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Conflicting quotations:

  • "As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity." President Barack Obama, 2010-JUN-01. 1

  • "When Hollywood portrays or the mainstream media reports on those practicing homosexuality, they paint a picture of normalcy that does not exist, and they engage in grotesque mischaracterizations that equate sexual behavior (that is always a choice) with genetic identity (that is never a choice).  The consequence is a fundamental reshaping of society -- families reconstituted, laws rewritten, mores restructured. Despite the propaganda campaign to portray homosexuals as passive victims and those with traditional moral values as aggressive oppressors, the 'gay rights' movement is seeking this very type of cultural revolution." Peter Herck, OneNewsNow guest columnist, 2010-FEB-08. 2

  • "In a nutshell, most religious conservatives and some religious mainliners regard same-sex behavior as immoral. Meanwhile, LGBTs, other religious mainliners, religious progressives, secularists, and most therapists regard persecution, oppression, rejection, abuse, denegration, harassment and lack of equal rights for LGBTs to be immoral." From an Email received by the group maintaining this web site.

  • "Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, ... tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered'." Catechism of the Catholic Church. §2357.

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Welcome to the conflict:

Major and apparently irreconcilable conflicts exists in North America over equal rights and protections for LGBT persons (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender individuals and transsexuals). This section of our web site is one of the largest; we give this topic a great deal of attention for two reasons:

  • Most religious conservatives consider the conflict to be more serious than any other in the culture -- often more important even than limiting abortion access. They perceive that equal rights for the LGBT community represent a major threat to the institution of opposite-sex marriage, to morality, to the culture itself, and to their own religious freedom.

  • Most religious liberals, secularists, Agnostics, Atheists, etc. regard the conflict as the leading civil rights battle of the present generation.

  • The LGBT community has been heavily engaged in fighting for equal rights since the Stonewall riots in 1969. Lately, their goals have been expanded to include access to marriage. Many loving, committed same-sex couples are recognized in some states only as roommates; they are anxious to obtain equal protections and status for themselves and for their children.

We attempt to objectively explain the foundational beliefs and resultant assertions of both the conservative religious communities and the "other side" consisting of the LGBT communities, religious liberals, secularists, therapists, social workers, etc.

Unfortunately, this is not a simple task. One reason is that the only available terminology is biased: when we use the common term "sexual preference" our writing will favor the conservative faith groups; when we use orientation, we will be seen as favoring the LGBT community. Thus, we tend to go with the medical/therapeutic terms.

Since we discuss both sides in the conflict, you can be certain that you will find lots of material with which you will agree, and lots with which you will strongly disagree in this section. Sorry about that. It can't be helped because this is a very active debate and the mandate of this web site to explain all viewpoints.

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More definitions:

By way of a refresher for those unfamiliar with terms like sexual orientation and transsexuality:

  • The term "homosexuality" as used by religious conservatives generally refers to same-gender sexual behavior (what one does). When used by the LGBT community, therapists, etc. it generally refers to sexual orientation (what one is).

  • The term "sexual orientation" defines the gender(s) of people to whom one is sexually attracted. There are three options:
    • A heterosexual orientation means that one is attracted to members of the opposite gender only.
    • A bisexual orientation means that one is attracted to both men and women, although not necessarily to the same degree.
    • A homosexual orientation means that one is attracted to members of the same gender only.

  • The term "gender identity" defines the gender by which a person identifies themselves:
    • Cisgendered persons identify their gender as that given to them at birth.
    • transgender persons identify their gender as different from that given to them at birth. Some say that they have a female brain trapped in a male body, or vice versa. Some identify with neither gender; some with both genders; some feel that they are disengaged from the concept of gender.

  • The term "ex-gay" as used by religious conservatives refers to persons from one of two groups who have "walked away from homosexuality." That is, they changed their sexual behavior:
    • A person with a bisexual orientation who has made a consious decision to restrict their sexually active relationships to persons of the opposite-sex only, and
    • A person with a homosexual orientation who has made a consious decisions to abandon sexually active relationships and remain celibate for the rest of their life.

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Topics under debate:

Current conflicts in society include the right to marry. to have protection from hate crimes, to be able to serve freely in the military, to have their partners visit them in hospitals, to be free of discrimination in employment, etc. Some opinion surveys of religious conservatives have shown that preventing equal rights for the LGBT communities is even more important than restricting abortion access to women.

bullet Many GLBTs, their organizations and supporters are heavily involved in the promotion of equality for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities. This involves working towards a culture where:
 
bullet Persons of all three sexual orientations (heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual) and various gender identities (cisgendered, transsexual, transgender) are accepted, valued and given equal rights and protections.
 
bullet Heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual orientations are recognized as unchosen, natural, normal and fixed (or essentially fixed) orientations among adults.
 
bullet

Loving, committed same-sex couples can marry and receive the same set of about 350 state and 1,150 federal benefits, rights, and protections for themselves and their children as do married opposite-sex couples.
 

bullet Many social and religious conservatives in North America, their organizations and supporters are heavily promoting the restriction of rights and protections for sexual minorities. Their target is at what they call the "gay agenda" which includes same-sex marriage and other forms of equality. Their primary concern is a perceived attack on their own religious freedoms by LGBTs. A secondary concern is that, over time, persons opposed to equal rights for LGBTs will be viewed as being as bigoted as racists, sexists, religists, 3 and xenophobes, . This involves working towards a culture where:
 
bullet Heterosexuals would be given special rights and protections in employment security, access to accommodation, access to marriage, inheritance rights, hospital visitation privileges, protection from violent physical attacks, etc. Gays and lesbians would be denied some or all of these rights.
 
bullet Homosexuality, and bisexuality would be recognized as chosen, sexual behaviors, unnatural, abnormal, disordered, sinful, hated by God, changeable, and perhaps worthy of criminalization.
 
bullet Same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships would be unavailable in North America; those solemnized in other countries would not be recognized in the U.S. and Canada.
 
bullet Same-sex couples would be regarded by the states only as roommates, with their children considered illegitimate. Their families would have no access to the approximately 350 state and 1,150 federal benefits and rights that are automatically enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples..

Some religious conservatives believe that the goals of the GLBT movement include the destruction of the Christian religion, dismantling the institution of marriage, and ruining the rest of the culture.

There is a lot of anger and essentially no dialogue between the two groups. Resolving these conflicts through debate is often impossible because the fundamental assumptions, studies, conclusions, terminology and beliefs of one group are generally rejected by the other. They even define words differently, thus making any type of communication essentially impossible. The situation has many points of similarity to the battle over abortion access. and -- in the past -- over inter-racial marriage.

Human slavery, giving women the vote, eradication of racial segregation, banning of inter-racial marriage, etc. have been completely or largely resolved in the past. There is no doubt but that equal rights for LGBT communities will be somehow resolved in our future. However, there is enormous suffering in the LGBT communities at this time and a suicide rate that is out of sight. We have two solitudes tossing verbal rocks at each other. The solution lies in honest dialogue, which seems to be almost impossible to initiate.

You can buy the following books on homosexuality from Amazon.com's online bookstore:

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Barack Obama, "A Proclamation..." White House, 2009-JUN-01, at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/
  2. Peter Heck, "Homosexual family law," One News Now, 2010-FEB-08, at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/
  3. "Religism" is a proposed new English word to cover bigotry based on another person's religious belief.

Site navigation:

Home page > LGB topics > here

Home page > "Hot" religious topics > LGB topics > here

Home page > "Human rights" > LGB topics > here

Home page > "Morality and ethics" > LGB topics > here

Copyright © 1996 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated 2011-AUG-06

Author: B.A. Robinson

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