December 28, 2009

Do Gay Marriage Foes Deserve to be Heard?

Another way to turn this question around is to ask when does free speech cross the line and become offensive and hurtful?  A group in Washington, DC believes ads on local buses against same-sex marriage cross that line.  Columnist Colbert I. King respectfully disagrees in the Washington Post:

That Full Equality Now takes offense is understandable. But should the ads be taken down?

Fortunately, yet another group of citizens has weighed in on the issue.

The group includes Mitch Wood, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance; Arthur B. Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU of the Nation's Capital; Jeffrey D. Richardson, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club; Aisha C. Mills, president of Campaign for All D.C. Families; and activist Richard J. Rosendall.
Unlike Full Equality Now DC, the group led by Wood and Spitzer has stepped forward to defend the freedom of expression of forces against gay marriage, even though those same forces have not done so for supporters of civil marriage equality.

In their letter to Catoe, the Wood-Spitzer alliance wrote: "As supporters of civil marriage equality, we also embrace the principle of free speech enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which makes our own advocacy possible. Indeed, the then-named Gay Activists Alliance thirty years ago won a court battle against WMATA for the right to place educational posters in Metrobuses with the message, 'Someone In Your Life Is Gay.' WMATA is a quasi-governmental body and is thus subject to the First Amendment. We, the undersigned, therefore urge you to reject the misguided censorship advocated by Full Equality Now DC."

Speaking not only for themselves but also for people like me, they said: "Free speech is not only for those whose beliefs we find acceptable. The proper response to offensive speech is more speech. Your proper response to Full Equality Now DC, therefore, is that those who object to ads by Stand For Marriage DC are free to place their own.

"Thank you for resisting pressures to favor or disfavor particular viewpoints, from whatever political direction they may come."
We believe this group does the LGBT community proud and sets a standard right-wing groups should strive to meet by puting their self-interest aside and being concerned about the greater good, in this case preserving freedom of speech.
Click here to read the rest of the op-ed.

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more. Thanks for speaking out for free speech & calling out the anti-freedom element.