In his recent letter to the editor of the Silver State Post, (newspaper in my town) the writer opined that this newspaper’s new news editor didn’t go far enough in his column decrying gay marriage, concluding that homosexuality is “morally wrong,” “degrades human beings, just as other vices do,” and suggesting that gay people should be held in the same degree of contempt we reserve for criminals, to wit, pedophiles.
In support of his argument, the letter writer indicates his conclusions are based on a perceived understanding of “the basic truths of life.” I am always deeply impressed with my friends who have figured out such matters, who are secure in the knowledge that they have found the answer to the meaning of life and that their perceptions are true, accurate and not subject to debate. It certainly provides them with emotional security and often allows them to disregard further thought on such issues, seemingly leaving them more time to deal with the more mundane aspects of life. I suppose one could argue that it is the intellectual equivalent of consuming comfort food: it doesn’t have much substance but it tastes good.
Despite my decades of practicing law, including my time as a judge where I often wrestled with the moral issues that do indeed represent the basis of our laws, I have no experience which suggests that there is any moral code which supports intolerance or bigotry. To the contrary, our nation is great, in part, because of our laws which have consistently recognized that our citizens should not be discriminated against because of race, religion, ethnicity or because of their sexual orientation.
Empirically, I have interacted over many years with a number of gay persons, both female and male. One of the best doctors I ever had before her retirement happened to be gay. One of my closest male friends, someone I have known and respected since our days in college, happens to be gay. Personally, my experience is that a person’s sexuality seldom, if ever, defines who they are and is a poor indication of their morality or their value to society, assuming we need to make such judgments.
This is reflected in those states that recognize the rights of gay persons to marry, for example, a position, whether agreed with or not, endorsed by a significant number of our citizens including our President.
If there is any universal truth about us, as human beings, then that truth is that a person who lives a moral life should be respected, admired and revered, not condemned because he or she us different from other equally moral people.
And while our First Amendment guarantees our right to express our opinions, I’ll quote our new news editor who indicates that he “…will continue…ensuring fair and accurate reporting at all times.” Perhaps his devotion to this fundamental principle of good journalism will be an incentive for responsible debate by his readers, as well.