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A dangerous equivocation

| Sunday, March 2, 2014

I would first like to preface this letter by saying that I have no intention to rule on the legitimacy or morality of homosexuality or gay rights.

After having read several articles both in this newspaper and others, I have found a glaring issue with the method of argument. In light of this, I would like to call attention to a rather blatant logical fallacy that seems to constantly arise in the discussion of gay rights or the gay rights movement. Particularly, there is a fallacious equivocation of the civil rights movement of the 1870s that aimed to afford African Americans equality under law and the civil rights movement that is currently raging, which seeks to confer homosexuals certain rights.

The association seems quite fine at first glance. People should be given the same rights and same protections under the law — the intentions of each movement. The problem lies not with the intention, but the execution.

The civil rights movement of the 1870s is radically different from today’s homosexual rights movement in that the former provided for the emancipation of those who were not being treated as humans. There is a problem with treating people as property, and this movement turned our attention towards it.

The homosexual movement, though, is not even remotely the same. I think few, and probably extremely ill-informed people, argue that homosexuals are not people, and probably wouldn’t suggest them to be property. The logic is evidently flawed to evoke the name of the civil rights movement as the same basis for the homosexual movement. Homosexuals are people and ought to be guaranteed rights that are inherent to humanity.

Therefore, the question is not “Are homosexuals people?” but “What rights are guaranteed?” I can understand why many would want to associate these civil rights movements together, since slavery and objectification have long since been condemned. But, doing so is quite simply manipulative; the subject matter is categorically different. There is an inherent difference between rights afforded by humanity and the rights that the homosexual movement is calling for.

Don’t associate these two movements to draw support simply because people can commonly flock to the idea of emancipation. There cannot be false equivocation simply to progress the movement that is founded on critically different bases. The expansion of what rights constitute humanity and the conferral of those agreed to be inherent are not the same and ought not to be associated.

Jonathan Baker
Fisher Hall
Feb. 26

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • Shawn

    No. Almost all of the articles compare the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. And it is an apt comparison. Laws against interracial marriage are an especially good comparison.

    I’m surprised the observer published this. This is a straw-man argument.

    • J

      Blacks in the 1960s couldn’t use the same bathrooms, water fountains, or schools. They were legislatively segregated by federal and state governments. They were physically assaulted by police and military. The comparison is insulting to people like Martin Luther King who were murdered in defense of equality. Laws against interracial marriage are poor as well because they have nothing to do with the nature of marriage as it relates to state interest.

      Your calls for the Observer to start silencing viewpoint that differ from your own speaks volumes about your ideas of tolerance and equality.

      • none

        No gay people are ever assaulted or murdered because of anti-gay bias, huh. And there aren’t laws springing up across the country that hope to let businesses discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation, huh.

        It is obviously not a 1:1 analogy, and no one claims that it is. But it is certainly relevant and there are many similarities. And the commenter’s point, that this letter presents a total straw man, is completely 100% accurate. No one is comparing the struggle for gay rights to the 1870s. That’s why it’s irresponsible to publish the letter. It misstates facts.

        • J

          Gay people aren’t being attacked by law enforcement and the military. Every racial, religious, and political group in the US has members assaulted each year because of their identity.

          And you should read more about the laws in question if you think they allow discrimination based on sexual orientation.

          Equivocation of the current plight of LGBT individuals to blacks in the 1960s is insensitive and wrongheaded. They are profoundly celebrated by nearly the entire media industry and segregation is entirely beyond comparison.

          • none

            I acknowledge that it, like all analogies, is imperfect. But a minority group is being denied full civil equality based on an innate and immutable characteristic. That’s enough to make comparisons completely valid.

            I know plenty about the laws, thank you. They allow business owners to refuse to serve homosexuals if they believe doing so would violate a sincerely held religious belief. The same sorts of arguments were used to argue against the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Another point of valid comparison.

          • J

            You may want to read the laws, because your understanding of them seems to be incorrect. You also may want to familiarize yourself with the related cases in Washington, New Mexico, and Colorado. The laws do not allow discrimination based on sexual orientation, and no religious community is advocating refusing service to LGBT individuals. Furthermore, most studies suggest that sexual orientation is neither innate nor immutable.

            Given the extreme suffering and segregation endured by blacks in this country I don’t think it is appropriate to manipulate their plight into a comparison.

          • none

            “Furthermore, most studies suggest that sexual orientation is neither innate nor immutable.”

            Hahahaha ok.

            This is why I can’t have serious conversations with people like you. “Most studies?” Ok, guy. Keep your head buried in the sand.

          • Laughing

            Indeed, most studies have shown that “the gay” can be prayed away.

            But actually the catholic catechism acknowledges that a gay sexual orientation is innate and immutable. So J, may I ask what cult you are a part of?

          • J

            No one said “the gay can be prayed away.” Sexuality is inherently fluid and thus not immutable. The catechism says nothing about this. You reveal your own ignorance.

          • J