A Gay Man's Opposition To The Gay Ballot Proposition
I am a 57 year old man who “came out of the closet” at age 39. I spent the next several years living the gay lifestyle, including being involved with the Imperial Court of All Alaska (ICOAA), the Alaska chapter of an international GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered) support and service organization. I was honored to serve as the 34th Emperor of All Alaska (the highest title in the ICOAA) until I had to retire due to health problems. I live with HIV/AIDS, am a past member of the Board of Directors for 4A’s, and have lobbied on Capitol Hill for services for those infected with HIV and to combat its spread. I am also proud to be a convert to and practicing member of the Roman Catholic Church.
I know, first-hand, the deep struggles people have with questions of sexual identity, and of unjust persecution because of what I believed was my sexual orientation, and as a Catholic (as well as, in the past, a registered Republican). As a result of many years of struggle, study, reflection, and above all, prayer, I have come to understand certain things about myself and the issues concerning “gay rights” so prevalent in our times and have what I believe is a unique perspective when it comes to Proposition 5.
My life experience is that most people are reasonable and respective of others. There seems to be a word sadly missing in our society and in the discussions around the current situation – civility. If I act reasonably, respectfully, in other words, civilly to you, chances are that you will do so with me. If you act strangely or dress way out of the norm, demanding that others treat you civilly, chances are they will develop some level of suspicion and/or distrust if forced to deal with you. This proposition not only criminalizes explicit discrimination, which may be reasonable if accurate and commonly accepted descriptions are included; it also criminalizes implicit discrimination – just what do the words "sexual orientation or transgender identity" mean? (This is the exact wording added to each section of the Anchorage Municipal Code 5.20.050).
I know Trevor Storrs, the gentleman behind this proposition. I respect Trevor greatly; he is a very intelligent, kind, and capable person. He called me this morning, and we discussed each other’s viewpoints concerning this proposition. I believe that he and many in favor of this proposition are sincere in their belief that it is a measure necessary to prevent unjust discrimination against a significant number of our citizens, and I know they are sincere. I once believed as they do.
I also know that there are some, in every segment in our society, who actively practice high levels of discrimination against anyone they perceive as different from themselves. Most of us (including me) have experienced such discrimination at some time or other. We are all guilty of discrimination on some level; this is one of the unfortunate results of Original Sin.
Do we need to be aware of discrimination, in all its ugly forms? Yes. Do we have an obligation to fight discrimination whenever and wherever we experience it or see it happening to others? Yes. But I do not believe that we can legislate away discrimination against, let’s face it, the actions and activities of some that we find fundamentally opposed to the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, and society. If enacted, this proposition does exactly that.
This is a fundamental question for our society: do we force the vast majority of people to tolerate these actions and activities we find destructive to our society and allow them to live within our own homes, businesses, educational systems, and even places of worship if any part of them is ever used for a public function? The proposition states, “It is unlawful for a person, whether the owner, operator, agent or employee of an owner or operator of a public accommodation…” to discriminate against anyone due to “sexual orientation or transgender identity.”
Ours is a pluralistic society. No one's religious beliefs, or lack thereof, should intrude on another. We are called to tolerate all – to learn about, try to understand and, yes, even love the other, but we cannot accept being forced - by law - to condone the actions of anyone we find contrary to these beliefs.
Please join me in voting “NO” on Proposition 5.
Michael P Hughes