The New York Times is reporting this morning that nine young men in the Bronx have been accused of systematically kidnapping and torturing gay men and teens. Seven of the alleged perpetrators have already been arrested.
This account of the crime makes tough reading. Skip over it if necessary, but anyone engaged in the debate over equal rights for gays and lesbians in our society should confront it squarely.
The attackers forced the man to strip to his underwear and tied him to a chair, the police said. One of the teenage victims was still there, and the “Goonies” ordered him to attack the man.
The teenager hit him in the face and burned him with a cigarette on his nipple and penis as the others jeered and shouted gay slurs, the police said.
Then the attackers whipped the man with a chain and sodomized him with a small baseball bat.
First, the usual caveats: the alleged criminals in this case haven’ t been convicted; they are innocent until proven guilty.
But without naming names, we can still use this horrific act of terrorism to illustrate what lies at the heart of the debate over gay equality.
Being gay isn’t a Vince Vaughn movie. Being gay isn’t about an agenda or a conspiracy. Being gay isn’t about voting Republican or Democratic.
Being gay isn’t a discussion of biology. Being gay isn’t something that makes you squeamish. Being gay isn’t an act of rebellion or an affront to your values.
Being gay is one normal way of being human in a free society.
Let me say it again: Your gay neighbors are normal human beings, trying to live their lives in a free society. And you know what? They’re afraid.
They’re not frightened of some abstract theological argument. This isn’t a Sunday morning political talk show kind of thing.
They’re afraid because it’s still acceptable to use “gay” as a derogatory term — signifying weakness, falseness — long after “nigger” has been rightly banned from our lexicon.
They’re afraid because they could be attacked and killed by young men who have been taught by their society that homosexuals are, in a word, filth.
Gays are human. They’re normal. And they’re afraid with good reason.
More than a decade has passed since two young men in Wyoming kidnapped Matthew Shephard because he was gay. They tortured him, bound him to a fence on a backroad, and left him to die.
So it’s long past time to stop using homosexuality as a culture-war wedge issue.
We must stop wasting time trying to find complex and increasingly threadbare arguments to explain why the religious views of one sect or another should outweigh our society’s most sacred principles.
What are those principles? All men are created equal. We hold this truth to be self-evident, don’t we? We are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.
Among these the first is life. The second is liberty. The last is the pursuit of happiness.
To accomplish this we must insure that teenage gays and lesbians aren’t driven to suicide by hazing and isolation.
Gay families must be treated equally under the law — not “separate and sort of equal” — and that means they must be allowed to marry and allowed to adopt children.
It’s time for men and women who are gay to serve openly in our military, just as we once made the decision to allow men of color and then women to serve in the military.
Does wanting this equality for all our people sound like a “gay agenda?” Fine, I guess that makes me gay.
All Americans who want safety and freedom and tolerance and decency between neighbors, we’re all gay now.