Homophobia is the new racism
On 5 December 2002, Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) made several remarks about how segregation would have saved the country "all these problems over all these years." The public uproar was immediate and severe; following 15 days of criticism and calls for blood from all corners, Lott resigned his post as Senate Majority Leader.
On 3 March 2003, Represenative Jim Moran (D-VA) told a group of his constituents that a Jewish conspiracy was driving the current war with Iraq. Cue media outrage.
On 7 April 2003, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) said in an interview with the Associated Press that homosexual intercourse is on par with incest, pedophilia, and beastiality and as such should be illegal. He then went on to say that gays are undermining "the fabric of our society" and destroying the "healthy, stable, traditional family." The silence has been deafening.
The reponse to Santorum's comments is a saddening indicator that the land where All Men Are Created Equal still has a way to go before it can wear that title honestly. Discrimination against gays is the new racism, the last socially acceptable refuge of the bigot. All over this land, gays and those sticking up for their rights can safely expect an assault of some kind, verbal at the minimum, physical at the probable.
To those who cite "moral purity" and religious convictions as grounds for attacking homosexuality, I say this: less than 100 years ago, segregation and sterilization, both of the blacks and of the Jews, were considered measures for maintaining such purity and convictions. Today, it would be unthinkable for someone to take the stand that sex between an African-American couple be made illegal.
I applaud the work that the civil rights movement has done over the past decades. Those activists have accomplished much to bring equality, both in name and in practice, to America's racial minorities. However, "civil" does not stop at the bounds of race. Civil rights means all, gay or straight, black or white, are equal, both under the law and in the public eye. Until this is accomplished, some will still be more equal than others.
This was a letter to the editor of my university's student newspaper, inspired by magicmanzach's writeup above.