Years ago, Americans celebrated Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, George Washington Carver, Stuart Davis and Jelly-Roll Morton as greats within their respective fields, without accepting or celebrating their race.
Today, we celebrate the achievements of Tennessee Williams, Andy Warhol, Allen Ginsburg, Rock Hudson, Billie Jean King and Elton John, not their sexuality.
The time has come for America to afford the same freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or religion to homosexuals. A man should not fear for his job because he sleeps with other men any more than he should fear losing his job because he is black.
Critics, however, argue the difference is that homosexuality is a choice and that it is morally wrong. When scrutinized, however, neither of these arguments holds water as basis for public policy.
The origin of a person's sexual orientation is irrelevant to their right to be free from discrimination on the basis thereof. Whether homosexuality is the result of genetic predisposition, environment, or choice, it deserves to be protected as much as race or religious conviction.
If homosexuality is the result of a genetic process, why should it be treated any differently than a person's race?
A person may be born gay, just as he is born black or Hispanic. There is no choice on the part of the individual in either scenario, and thus each should be afforded equal protection.
If sexual orientation, as others argue, is the result of a person's environment during youth or some conscious choice, then you must protect it as you would their freedom of religion.
Religious orientation, or lack thereof, is the result of either upbringing or a decision made later in life. A person may be raised straight and Catholic and later choose to become gay and Episcopalian. How can we protect that person from discrimination on the basis of one choice and not the other?
As to the morality argument, the law prohibits discrimination in housing or hostelry against unmarried couples despite landlord, land-owner, or innkeeper's deep belief that fornication and his assistance in furtherance thereof is a sin. People have argued against the death penalty and abortion on moral grounds for years and have lost consistently.
A piece of advice - If you think public policy should conform to your religious beliefs, move to Iran.
Furthermore, it is argued that it would be wrong to force Americans to accept homosexuals because to do so would run contrary to strongly held personal convictions and social norms.
Perhaps we shouldn't force people to accept minorities or women either. People fought racial integration and the sexual revolution because they were both contrary to social norms and deeply held personal convictions of many Americans. They lost. Why should homosexuality be treated any differently?
When you get down to it, there is no legitimate reason to protect Americans from discrimination on the basis of their gender, race, and religion, but not on the basis of sexual orientation. The time has come to afford gays the same protections the rest of us enjoy.
Williams is a second year law student.