Forty-five years ago, a group of courageous men and women gathered in Selma, Alabama for a march to Montgomery to demand their full rights as American citizens. When they reached the bridge over the Alabama River, state troopers attacked them with such brutality that the incident came to be known as Bloody Sunday. The protest by right-minded Americans led to the voting rights act by which African American citizens were allowed to exercise the same rights held by European American citizens.
Today, another group of American citizens are being denied the rights that other citizens have. And the same vigilante mentality that spurred demagogues to warn people that allowing African Americans equal rights with European Americans would lead to chaos and moral corruption is alive again. Anita Bryant has raised her nasty old head to sneer at gay couples who want the same legal rights as straight couples. The American Family Association — did you ever notice how many perversions masquerade as good for the American family? — are going all out to demonize gay couples. A federal court judge has ruled that California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage, was unconstitutional, so the gay bashers are accusing him of being biased. It seems incredible now, but until the 1960s, it was a federal crime for an African American to marry a European American. The same ridiculous warnings were sounded then by professional bigots: that mixed race marriages would lead to the destruction of the institution of marriage.
But this time there’s a subtle difference. Many professional gay bashers have kept their own homosexual lives deep secrets. Some have been in loveless marriages with secret homosexual trysts on the side, some have persecuted homosexuals through their ecclesiastical or political positions — remember J. Edgar Hoover? And now those people look out at a new generation of gay and lesbian people who refuse to live their lives as a lie. They step out, speak up, claim who they are with pride. It’s enough to make all the miserable people who have never had that courage want to spit up. They figure if they’ve never had the right to be openly gay and honestly love, all the young whipper snapper gays shouldn’t have that right either. So they figure if they stir up the straight world enough and make them fear the idea of gay marriage, then their own unhappy lives will be vindicated. Maybe it’s because of all my years as a psychologist listening to the secrets of some of those religious and political haters, but I’m one straight person who isn’t buying their screed.