Many people in Dillon, especially if they’re old like me, consider homosexuality a bad thing — a sin, a perversion, unnatural. So why would they favor an ordinance that would protect homosexuals from being evicted, fired, or denied access to public accommodations because of their sinful, perverted, unnatural “lifestyles”?
Most young people don’t carry this prejudiced (and false) view of homosexuality. They’ve met and come to like some gay people. They know that sexual orientation is not a “lifestyle” or even a choice. It’s innate and therefore as natural, though not as common, as heterosexuality.
But these young people are not in positions of authority. The Dillon City Council, the body that will decide the fate of the proposed anti-discrimination ordinance, is comprised of people almost as old as I am. As they were growing up, they internalized our culture’s anti-gay prejudices, the same ones I internalized. The difference is that while I’ve attempted to shed my prejudices, I suspect they haven’t.
Of course, in the post-“Ellen” and “Will and Grace” era, it’s not acceptable to express anti-gay sentiments openly. So these prejudices get dressed up as other things — fiscal responsibility (we’ll be sued if we pass this ordinance); libertarianism (we don’t need more laws, there are already too many); or absurd fantasies (I don’t want men showering with my young daughters).
But maybe the Dillon City Council will surprise me by showing some sort of moral courage. Maybe, just maybe, I’m not giving them enough credit.
Richard Turner, Dillon