Is it an advantage to society?
Should gays and lesbians have equal treatment under law?
One source points out that in past Native American societies, homosexuals were valued
members of the tribe and were given specific responsibilities. 1
By not having children of their own, "they brought to their kinship groups an
increased capacity for the production of food and other essentials....while at the same
time they did not increase the load on the vital supplies of the group..." He
argues that since homosexuals tend to have fewer children, they have more energy to
contribute to the advancement of society. This is seen historically, in the apparent
over-representation of gay and lesbian philosophers, artists, and other creative
individuals in western society.
Other ancient civilizations, like that of the ancient Israelites, were motivated to
exterminate homosexuals because they tended to have few children. One writer
"Religious objections to homosexuality spring from
two sources. One is the ancient patriarchal warrior-clan religion on which
several modern religions are based. In their clans it was every male's duty to
breed, to produce more soldiers, and any who didn't were violating cult taboo:
it was taken as a sign of non-male weakness, of "sin" against their
warrior Father. 1
The chances of survival
of the tribe, when surrounded by enemy societies, is augmented if the birth rate is kept
high. The more babies that are produced, the more future warriors will be available to
fight the battles. However, in the present time, our high birthrate is causing major
stress on the environment. The human race is breeding itself to death. Thus, homosexuality
may currently have a beneficial influence on the survivability of the human race.
The same writer continues:
"The other source of these condemnations has been the need
of religious and political leaders, who, in trying to force their religion and
its observance on the peoples of their communities, have created mythic
polemics that attempt to denigrate and destroy the religious beliefs and
practices of others. This is the origin of the myth of Sodom and Gomorrah, and
of the opprobrious dicta of Saul/Paul." 1
We see this dynamic in some of religious groups which concentrate on anti-gay
rhetoric. While this may build cohesion within their group, it increases
the level of hatred and mistrust in society, and lowers our ability to
cooperate. These effects are counter productive.
Groups of individuals are given equal protection under various federal, state/province,
and city civil rights laws in North America. These include groups identified by race,
gender, religion, nationality, degree of disability, language. This list of rights is
gradually being extended to include sexual orientation.
Many conservative Christians organizations actively oppose sexual orientation being included in a list of
protected groups. Their argument often asserts that homosexuality and heterosexuality are
chosen behaviors that can be changed at any time, through reparative
therapy. Cal Thomas is typical. He wrote: "...the facts (as opposed to the
politics) are that people who want to change can change [their orientation] , because it
is behavior at issue--not race, gender or physical disabilities." Thus he
believes that gays and lesbians cannot ask for "special protection under civil
rights laws designed for people whose status has nothing to do with behavior."
Conservative Christian organizations typically use the term "special rights" rather than
"equal rights" because they believe that rights based on sexual behavior are
quite different from the more traditional rights. The latter are based on unchangeable
factors, like race, color, ability status, nationality and gender. Equal rights for gays and lesbians would protect their
behavior. Their argument does not really hold water, because religion has always been a
protected class in civil rights law. Religion is very definitely a choice, and a
changeable factor in a person's life.
Gay and Lesbian groups point to the high incidence of gay-bashing, as well as
employment and accommodation discrimination. They feel that equal protection under law for
persons of all sexual orientations is badly needed.
It is rarely commented upon that equal protection for all sexual orientations will
protect everyone: heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals. We are unaware of any
legislation that protects only gays and lesbians.