I don't think you are getting the point. Gay people don't need "special rights", they need "the same rights".
The only reason for banning gay people from marriage is the fact that "god" doesn't think it is right. Marriage shouldn't be defined by the bible. A man can love another man, just like a man can love a woman. Gay people can't help it, they can't stop it. And it's not going to hurt anybody if gay people do get married, and the world isn't going to freeze over.
The only thing that you are saying to "the gay people you love" is:
"Sure, it's okay that your gay, but that doesn't mean you get to be happy. Happiness is reserved for straight people."
Its nice and all that you want to show tolerance but your views are very askew and it seems you have been wrongly informed. We are not asking for special rights, we are asking to have the same rights that heterosexuals are granted. And yes, they ARE rights. Perhaps it's just that you have been taking yours for granted and thus do not view these issues as rights but as simple add ons to life. If you were placed in the position where you were denied of something most people are granted... you wouldn't feel the same way.
As a gay man I respectually must tell you J. Peck that your' viewpoint is a load of hogwash. (I am also basically a farm boy from Iowa). Just to let you know I also have two chronic health conditions--bi-polar disorder and diabetes. My eldest sister was born without arms. I have a cousin who is developmentally disabled. I have dedicated my entire life to helping people in wheelchairs, elderly folk with dementia, children--the "least" of our society.
So how does all this relate to gay rights? Because gratefully our culture is starting to turn the corner on such issues as physical disabilites. There's still a long way to go though. Ever tried to navigate steps in a wheelchair? Our country still has a long way to go in the area of mental health. It's fundamentally a medical concern, not a defect of character, and yet those of us who have "alternative brain chemistry" have been deeply shamed, even still.
Providing handicap access in a building is not a "special right". It is a way for an individual to simply "be on equal footing" with her peers.
Altering the many healthcare laws so that those of us who have a treatable mental illness receive EQUITABLE treatment for our MEDICALLY BASED health condition is only fair. Is it fair for me NOT to receive health insurance for this "pre-existing medical condition (bi-polar disorder)???????
So in my roundabout fashion Mr. J. Peck I will get to "special treatment for gay people". Just for your' information a new "politically correct" term which is being used for the queer community is GLBTI--Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex. Hogwash and double hogwash I say if you think we get "Special" treatment. If special means "less than". If special means blatant and subtle discrimination than go ahead call me special. Fair is fair is fair is fair is fair. Please re-read the eloquent posts above by those who DO NOT AGREE with your' position Mr. J. Peck. I also have a request that you make the time and energy to befriend more gay people. Perhaps you already do have gay friends and if you do I sincerely honor you. If you do not have any close gay friends you would find many of us to be some of the most sincere, loving people who truly want to make this world a better place.
As a gay, "crazy", diabetic man I can not support your' viewpoint J. Peck because it IS discrimination. I am not seeking special treatment. I seek to love my man, and if he is in the hospital I want to be able to see him and discuss his medical treatment with his physicians. REALLY THINK ABOUT YOUR' VIEWPOINT J. Peck.
There is no valid reason for gays not to have full equal rights under the law. Denying them these rights just allows some people to feel superior. Sad that they have the need to feel better than someone else. We are all equal. A gay marriage does not threaten my marriage. To say that is does is ridiculous. Just love them equally with everyone else or admit you don't.
The disagree ratings may only show the bias of the audience. I used to belong to a polling web site that was purely political and it has become a haven for extreme right wing nutcases. I no longer go there and the nutcases have overwhelming votes for the Bush Presidency. Those people must be in that 23% that still believe in the bastard. Unfortunately, people who have not suffered discrimination have no clue how destructive and hurtful it can be. A new study shows that teenagers who suffer discrimination because of their sexuality are 2.5 times more likely to commit suicide than their hetero counterparts. I was almost one of those statistics. As to the arguement of right vs. custom or community standards, what's the difference? Either people respect others or they show bias. The act is still perceived as hateful. I know it is hard to legislate morality but the people who claim to own the definition are often the most immoral. I have to define what I mean by morality because everyone defines it their own way. To me morality is honoring and respecting all creatures. Immorality is showing ill will toward any creature. If showing ill will toward any person is not immoral, I don't know what is. Parts of our society institutionalize ill will. It is directed at specific easily definable groups. Our country learned lessons during our many experiences in war how to demean and dehumanize groups of people and many political groups such as the right wing christian groups have picked up some of the techniques. It is easier to be disrespectful of groups that one sees as subhuman. That is one of the City of Chicago's current legal arguements, that gays are subhuman and therefore not covered by the 14th Amendment. It is easier to deny common courtesies to subhumans. This is why I am for all of us to come out of our closets and let the world know that nice neighbor next door is gay, lesbian or transgender. Maybe if they see so many of the people they know are "different," then maybe making such a big deal of it will cease to matter. Maybe denying common courtesy will end.
How is it that the right to be guaranteed NOT to be terminated employment simply because of race, gender, religion, for example are not rights?
How is it that being guaranteed inheritance of the property, pension, social security, or to have health insurance of one's spouse is not a right?
How is guaranteed hospital visitation, medical decision making, child support, automatic child custody in the event of death not a right?
All of these things are guaranteed by law for heterosexual couples.
However, if you are homosexual, the protections do not exist and in some places are actually prohibted by law.
Again, help me to understand how you make a distinction between an "established practice" and a legal right?
It sounds like simple semantics to me.
Employers must be faced with violating their religious beliefs every day. Can you imagine that a store owner might have a screener at the door who only invites jews inside, and refuses anyone else? How about a christian hospital in New York who refused treatment to a jew or a muslim?
What about a restaurant where a shellfish is served? According to both christian bible and hebrew talmudic teachings, it violates "God's" law to even handle shellfish, yet they do.
What about Israeli airlines? Can they refuse passage to Muslims? Iranians?
Now that we have concerns with Iran, can our US airlines ban passage to citizens of Iranian background? They might be Zoroastrian and the shareholders may be Christian and object. Not to mention, Iran is part of the so-called "Axis of Evil." In WWII we encamped US citizens who were of Japanese origin. Preventing air travel seems minor by comparison, it's just for the safety of the rest of us after all, isn't it?
Where exactly does it end?
Can a local CVS pharmacist decide that he does not want to fill a birth control pill because his religious beliefs do not believe in artificial contraception? But the law says that it is an FDA approved drug prescribed and legally obtained from a licensed medical doctor. What gives a pharmacist the right to interfere in the doctor/patient relationship? And what if the birth control pills were actually intended to treat another medical condition anyway, not for contraception? Ok, but if the patient told the phamacist that, the pharmacist would be glad to fill it since THEN it doesn't violate his/her religious tenets. However then it violated a federal privacy law known as HIPAA since the pharmacist had no right to know the patient's medical condition in order to fill the prescription.
Should stores start refusing to stock condoms for the same reason, because contraception is considered against the belief system of many christian faiths?
I see a terribly slippery slope when religion imposes on all avenues of commerce and law. We are a nation of laws, not of religion.
The Constitution guarantees you the right to practice your faith without fear of persecution, but it also prevents you from imposing that faith or any restrictions it brings on others. After all, whose faith would be impose on others? Which set of rules?
Some very interesting observations made by this group. Let me join this train of thought firstly by saying that in such areas as housing, freedom from physical ( or psychological) abuse, employment that does not involve the forced violation of an employers freedom to practice their relegion/faith, I believe we may indeed find common ground. This should always be the goal of any intelligent exchange of ideas. No one should be placed in a situation where they must fear for their lives, bodily safety, or mental well being just because others do not agree with them.
Let me also be clear. Many of those things above are not rights. They are established practices that have been determined by the standards of communities, both local and national. Many of these have indeed been placed into legal statutes, but many have not and are in the hands of private individuals and companies. Many groups within the homosexual movement realized this years ago and have made strides in changing those practices in their areas. That is not to say that I am in agreement with this, just that it is an indisputable fact.
It is not a right to be married or to inherit, as some of the writers above have suggested. Their are conditions, both legal and non-legal, that must be met to do either. A right is an inherent promise to a citizen of the U.S. Anything that carries with it stipulations beyond citizenship is not a right.
I realize that this will bring me into sharp disagreement with many of you, my fellow Americans. It is not my intention to be abrasive or to stir ire within your hearts. I seek firstly truth, and in age where this is increasingly absent or unrecognized, I will settle for clarity. For us to find solutions, we must agree to common terms.
I could also discuss with you the actual legal meaning of the word discrimination that is so easily used by many people in the U.S. for varying reasons. That is a log for another day.
In closing, I would like to say that I personally strive to love all people regardless of whether or not we agree. This is my belief and my goal. I think every human being has value that is inherit in them and must be treated with respect. Even with those I agree to disagree with.
The following are a list of things for which someone in the U.S. may be descriminated against, legally, in 2007, simply for being gay:
In a majority of states, employment may be refused or terminated, simply for being gay;
Military service will be terminated if homosexuality is discovered; Hospital visitation and medical decision-making for seriously ill or incapacitated partner; Access to spousal benefits such as social security, health insurance and pensions; Access to family/medical leave and bereavement leave; Automatic right of inheritance when no will exists, Automatic right of inheritance even WHEN a will exists because "family" will contest; Significant tax benefits, particularly with regard to owning a home together; Obligation to pay child support; custody and visitation rights; If an employer does provide domestic partner health insurance, instead of it being "pre-tax" such as for legal spouses, it is deducted "post-tax" because the IRS doesn't recognize a domestic partner as "legitimate, further, the employer's share of the health insurance premium is added to the W-2 at year end as "imputed income" and adds to the tax burden for the same reason." With all the talk of health care in this country, of all things we could tax, health insurance when an employer is generous enough to offer it, but ONLY to homosexuals? Domestic partners cannot even legally mail an absentee ballot for for an election because they are not a spouse or family member as defined by state statute, it's a FELONY to MAIL SOMETHING for their partner! Then of course there is the notion of marrying the person they love. So JPECK, are you starting to see some of the things for which gay people do not have the same rights as everybody else?
To answer your question, "What rights don't they have that other Americans have?" many. The City of Chicago is arguing in court that gays are not protected by the 14th amendment. In 31 states gays, lesbians and in 45 states transexuals do not have the right to work. They can be refused work or fired if it becomes known they are gay. Gays are not allowed to marry the ones they love. In many ares it is commonly accepted practice for law enforcement agencies to beat gays for no reason. Does this remind you of the 60's in the South? It does for me. We are not even offered separate but equal. Gays are not, for the most part, allowed equal rights in all parts of the country and are actively descriminated against. You apperently have lead a very sheltered life. Because you are not aware of the problem does not mean it does not exist. It is real and it hurts many. Just ask Matthew Shepard and many more less well known gays and lesbians who were killed because of nothing more than the sexual orientation God gave them. Ask the ones who were denied housing. Ask the ones who were fired from their jobs or discharged from the military. There are no equal rights for gay and lesbian people, at least not in the U. S.
We probably will have to tackle this "subjective" area of rights before we can actually talk about them being denied. Also we will have to dialogue about "discrimination" and what that means since that word was bandied about quite a bit on the web site you sent me to.
While the definition of "rights" can be subjective, there are many circumstances in which LGBT people are denied aspects of everyday life which the majority of straight people take for granted. This link to the Human Rights Campaign website displays just some of the areas in which we face discrimination. Click on each topic to read a summary.