It is true that sometimes the gay community will make misplaced accusations of homophobia. Sometimes those who may not support full equality for gay people are not acting out of malice but are simply uninformed or conflicted or perhaps have not applied thought, logic, and consistency to an issue.
But there are also times when people behave in a hateful manner and act out of spite and malice. And this week some California Assemblymen demonstrated that attitude.
In response to a revision of a bill requiring pro-gay education in schools, on Monday the Democrats in the Assembly suspended the rules to bring a representation of successful gay people onto the floor to “benefit Republicans by showing them the strength of our diversity and the many accomplishments in a variety of disciplines”. Yes, I believe it was partisan and petty. And it was not necessarily homophobic of some Republicans to be annoyed at being so “benefited”.
However, regardless of the motivation of the presentation, the response of some legislators crossed the line. When the gay citizens were on the floor, these elected representatives of the people stormed off in protest. Not protest of the Democrats, or protesting the priorities, but protesting the presence of gay citizens. Because they were gay.
It is hard to see how this action can be described in any way that does not include homophobia.
It is unfathomable that this would have occurred with ANY other group of Californians, be they Moslems, Samoans, vegetarians, or bird fanciers. To display distain to any other segment of the populace would be political suicide. Most legislators, whether or not they are supportive of gay equality, consider all people to be their constituents regardless of their orientation.
Ex-gay gadfly James Hartline wrote an article praising two of the representatives who walked off the floor, Jay LaSuer and Dennis Mountjoy, for their “examples of godliness and faithfulness to the families of California”. Hartline quoted LaSuer as saying “Why is immorality in America being honored…?” and Mountjoy as saying “I find it puzzling that … behavior in the bedrooms was celebrated!”
Incidentally, the above mentioned bill was revised to simply state that orientation is added to the list of characteristics (race, religion, etc.) that schools cannot present in a pejorative manner. It passed with bi-partisan support. Reportedly, only LaSuer and Mountjoy voted against the non-disparagement bill.
Hartline is an extremist and his delight in the deliberate insult of Californians based solely on their sexual orientation may not be representative of all ex-gay attitudes. Not all ex-gay ministries would endorse the public humiliation of people simply because they are gay.
However, considering the increasingly political nature of Exodus and the inclination on the part of ex-gay ministries to exaggerate and misstate “the homosexual lifestyle”, I wonder whether they too will soon seek to exclude gay people from the definition of constituency and encourage incivility towards them.