Liebert Oversimplifies Gay Rights Struggle


To the editors:

Judging from the tone of his column (Nov. 2), it sounds as though Hugh P. Liebert intends to sum up the decades-old debate over gay and lesbian civil rights in 1,000 words or less. But by flattening the views of gay-rights advocates into a few narrow stereotypes, he undercuts the high ground he tries so hard to attain.

Liebert writes that "the most common condemnation of homosexuality stems from religious faith"--but what of the millions of people of faith of all sexual orientations who support gays and lesbians? Members of the more than 300 parishes of the Metropolitan Community Church, a predominantly gay Protestant denomination, might be surprised to hear that religious leaders are hostile to gay civil rights. So might Episcopalians, Unitarians, Lutherans and Reform Jews, many of whose American leaders have embraced the gay members of their congregations. Even the Roman Catholic bishops of America issued a pastoral letter last year calling for parents to love and accept their gay children.

And here at Harvard, groups like BAGELS and Cornerstone are devoted to discussing how homosexuality and religious faith intersect. The gay community does not oppose religion itself--indeed, many gays and lesbians are as faithful as their neighbors. What we do object to are hostile words, actions and policies cloaked in the guise of religious expression.

Similarly, Liebert argues that gays and lesbians ought to "prove beyond a doubt that homosexual union is a viable, albeit heretofore unexplored, version of virtuous living"-- suggesting that gay families are some kind of questionable new fad, like Viagra or swing dancing. Most gay and lesbian people aren't interested in proving that their relationships are "viable"--they're too busy simply living their lives together. Civil rights and basic legal benefits should not be dependent on offering evidence of our "virtue."


The struggle for gay rights can't simply be summed up as a war between irreligious gays and lesbians and their "intellectual elite" allies on the one hand, and "starchy traditionalists" and God-fearing regular Joes on the other. Our work on behalf of the gay and lesbian community has taught us that that community is far too diverse and multi-faceted to be caricatured so broadly. NICOLE L. DEBLOSI '99   ADAM A. SOFEN '01   Nov. 4, 1998

The writers are co-chairs of the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters' Alliance. Sofen is also a Crimson editor.

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