When Dignity Is Assaulted

The front lines of the culture wars shifted to Cincinnati this fall, and as is so often the case in wars of all kinds, truth was the first casualty.

The battlefield this time was a citywide ballot initiative that sought to outlaw protection of gay and lesbian civil rights. The principal footsoldiers in this battle were Far Right conservatives, many of them rooted in fundamentalist churches, and the effort was funded in large part by the group that launched last year's anti-gay effort, "Colorado for Family Values."

The Cincinnati initiative organizers learned a valuable lesson from past efforts to remove civil rights protections from gays and lesbians. In Oregon last fall, voters soundly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have officially declared homosexuality "abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse." In Colorado, the goal was the same: Stripping gays and lesbians of legal protection of their equal rights to housing, employment, and whatnot. But the strategy in the Rocky Mountain state was much more sophisticated. Claiming that equal protection of gay human rights amounted to "preferential treatment," Colorado's Amendment 2 sought to deny "protected" or "minority" status to gays and lesbians. It was approved by 54 percent of the voters (although it has been ruled unconstitutional by a Colorado district judge).

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Sojourners Magazine February-March 1994
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