By Billy Glover
I want to make my comments on the letter from (Rev) Mark Shirilau in the current issue of The Gay & Lesbian Review, in which he says that homosexuals need to have the approval of the heterosexuals (specifically in the case of gay marriage) in order to be happy-that just having legal rights is not enough.
I hope other readers will give their reaction and thoughts. I am not sure this is what Harry Hay and those who followed his thinking on the "outsider" view of homosexuals in society were saying, but I can be sure that it is not the view that the ONE people, who came out of early (the Harry Hay/Dale Jennings, et al part) Mattachine had. They and later we were followers of the Kinsey/Hooker thinking and sought only to be left alone, to have no laws controlling our lives and we wanted privacy, the government OUT of our bedrooms. We did not care whether or not the rest of society "approved" of us.
I wonder if there is a parallel in the black civil rights movement. It seemed to me, and perhaps over time the tactics and thoughts changed, but in the beginning of the main part of the effort to gain equal civil rights for people of color all that was sought was desegregation. That is different from seeking integration.
The problem blacks and homosexuals faced was laws controlling our lives. There was not just societal control saying that black Americans and white Americans could not go to the same schools, or eat at the same cafes or ride on the bus or train in the same areas, there were laws forcing the rule, taking away our rights to choose. Once the laws were removed then it was up to the individuals to decide if they wanted to eat next to someone of a different race. Then slowly as all races got to know each other, there came integration.
As I was thinking of this, I, like others, heard the awful words of President Nixon on the tapes, talking about abortion not being good, except in some circumstances, for instance to prevent the birth of a child whose parents were black and white. I don't think many people are aware of just how "terrible" the public thought interracial sex was, much less marriage, and the fear they had of children having a black and a white parent. That is why President Obam, like Tiger Woods, et al are so important, and show how much we have changed, for the better. And that is the path I think we are taking on homosexuality.
But it seems to me that there is a difference that most of us make on marriage that is civil and marriage that is religious. All Americans have legal rights, as individuals and citizens, but in a particular religion those who choose to follow that belief are controlled by the rules of that institution. We have a right to demand equal marriage rights from our government, but we do not have the right to demand acceptance or approval of our marriage by religious institutions. And most of us don't seek or want religious approval.