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These words echo in our ears and raise our ire because they constitute the core rhetoric of intolerance and antigay bigotry. These are the code words used by the religious right in the service of creating a kind of bumper-sticker condemnation of gay and lesbian people.

What is really being said by the Radical Right, "Hate gays, fear their motives, and control their lives!"

Family Values

I understand family values to be such things as loyalty, love, trust, and putting family first. The radical right's use of the code words family values is meant to imply that homosexuals are too sexually promiscuous and socially irresponsible to care about family, and would just as soon see family life disappear.

In reality gays go to a lot of trouble to have children and form family units. Gays cherish their families, and celebrate the values of loyalty, love, trust, and putting family first. Radical right values appear to be organized around exclusion and intolerance.

The most recent study available, is from Australia and it concluded: "... lesbian couples made better parents because their children were more tolerant of diversity and more socially skilled. Children of lesbians were also found to suffer far less parental sexual and physical abuse and incest than their peers."


Pro-family means Christian, heterosexual, and antigay. Homosexuals, according to the radical right, imperil the survival of the family as an institution. This supposedly justifies attempting to control the lives of gays.

If there is any doubt about the intended use of this code word, "family," to signal — right (heterosexual Christian) — from wrong (not-heterosexual Christian) — one need only summon up the names of some of the major antigay organizations in the United States: the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Institute, etc.

The Gay Agenda

The radical right's version of the "gay agenda" is that homosexual's are plotting to take over society and turn everyone gay! This ludicrous assertion demonizes gays sufficiently to justify attempting to restrict their constitutional rights and freedoms.

The real gay agenda is to achieve the same rights that every other law-abiding citizen of this country takes for granted — a reasonable concept. The Homosexual Agenda Revealed

Traditional Values

This is about fighting change, preserving the status quo, and validating the Christian, heterosexual way of life as the only acceptable way to be. The purpose of this coded term is to encourage enmity toward homosexuals who do indeed challenge the traditions of bigotry and discrimination. Change is in the wind. Empty phrases such as "traditional values" cannot hold time still. Besides, we are living in some of the best of times right now.

Special Rights

The claim is that homosexuals have all the same rights as everyone else.

The fact is that gay and lesbian people can be denied the right to stay in a hotel, to be served in a restaurant or store, rent an apartment ("We are not gay-friendly here"), to be hired for a job, (no-homosexuals employment policy), or (by court order) raise their own children. A man and a woman who have been married for only one-minute have an estimated 1,047 more rights and protections than a gay couple who has been together for fifty-years.

The "special rights" argument is used to justify legalized discrimination against gays and lesbians in an attempt to render them powerless in their struggle for true equality under the law. In cities and states all over this country the radical religious right pursue a campaign of intolerance against lesbian and gay people with ballot initiatives to deprive homosexuals of basic rights. Where is equal protection of the law for gays against these extremist assaults on basic civil rights for gays?

Gay people simply want the right to be treated fairly in the workplace, in public accommodation, in family matters — the same rights everyone else has. There is nothing special about that.

Lesbian and Gay people are asking for Equal Rights ... no more ... no less. "Special Rights" in the rhetoric of the religious right means no equal rights for gays.

Alternative Lifestyle

This is used as a derogatory term referring to the "immoral, sick, and sinful gay and lesbian way of life." There is no positive value to "alternative" since no legitimate options exist for the religious rightists outside of Christian, heterosexual, legally married, and sex in the missionary position.

Sexual Orientation

Every human being has a sexual orientation. It may be heterosexual or homosexual, or any point between.

Sexual Orientation is a Choice

Sexual orientation emerges for most people in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. Some people report trying very hard over many years to change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual with no success. Psychologists and The American Psychological Association do not consider sexual orientation for most people to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed.

Same-sex behavior is natural, according to the book "Biological Exuberance." Penguins and porcupines and porpoises do it. Giraffes and elephants and monkeys do it. Of the 2,000 species whose full range of sexuality has been observed, same-sex activity has been seen in 450 species, or about 20%. The activity can be brief or last for years. Female bears co-parent cubs, and greylag geese bond in same-sex pairs for their 16 year lifespans. Wait, it gets more complicated. Some fish — angelfish, for example — are born one sex, and turn into the other as they mature. Male wrasses have harems, but if the male is killed, a female will change her sex and become the male leader. Mother Nature is keeping an open mind.

Homosexuality is a Mental Illness or Emotional Problem

Psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals including the American Psychological Association agree that homosexuality is not an illness, mental disorder or emotional problem.

Much objective scientific research over the past 35 years shows us that homosexual orientation, in and of itself, is not associated with emotional of social problems.

Conversion Therapy Can Change Sexual Orientation


Even though most homosexuals live successful, happy lives, some homosexual or bisexual people may attempt to change their sexual orientation through therapy, sometimes pressured by the influence of family members or religious groups to try and do so.

The reality is that homosexuality is not an illness. It does not require treatment and it is not changeable.

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people may seek psychological help with the coming out process or for strategies to deal with prejudice, but most go into therapy for the same reasons and life issues that bring straight people to mental health professionals.

Gays Are Not a True Minority

This is a blatant effort to turn minority against minority. One of the media giants of the radical right says, "Gays are trying to hijack the black civil rights movement!"

The truth is, the executive director and the board president of the NAACP spoke at the Washington March in support of gay and lesbian civil rights, as has Jesse Jackson. Coretta Scott King has made many strong pleas for equal rights and for the acceptance of gays and lesbians. At a major King memorial event in Atlanta, Georgia, King's nephew Derek B. King mentioned gays in his sermon. This is just another way the Radical Right is trying to convince people that gays are social outlaws and that it's okay to hate them.

“... My husband understood that all forms of discrimination and persecution were unjust and unacceptable for a great democracy. He believed that none of us could be free until all of us were free, that a person of conscience had no alternative but to defend the human rights of all people. ... I want to reaffirm my determination to secure the fullest protection of the law for all working people, regardless of their sexual orientation ... it is right, just, and good for America.”

Coretta Scott King
September 16, 1997

Wake Up!

A dangerous conspiracy threatens the freedom of millions of Americans. The campaign of hate being carried on by radical right extremists has implications beyond its main target — the gay and lesbian community.

All citizens in a free society are at risk from a movement that seeks to promote aggression against innocent people, transform hatred into law, and stealthily seize control of the mechanisms of government.

Wake up, America! This pseudo-religious assault on personal freedom will affect you, your children, your community, and your government if it is not challenged and contained!

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984)

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