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Harvey Fierstein

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Don't End the War on Terror

Posted: 05/28/2013 2:38 pm

Is there a merit badge for disrespecting your parents? In a controversial move, the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow gay scouts to remain in the organization. The press touts this as a progressive victory. To me, like DOMA and Don't Ask Don't Tell before it, this is nothing short of the institutionalization of bigotry. What did the BSA vote actually say? Gay boys will be tolerated. Gay parents are banned. The official policy states that homosexuals cannot be trusted around children.

Furthermore thousands of boys with GLBT mothers or fathers, must accept the demonization of their parents if they want to join in the fun. Is this the Boy Scouts of America or a Hitler Youth Camp??? Do you get a S'more for turning in your dad?

And what of the young Scout struggling with his sexual identity? He's told that he can stay until he reaches maturity, but at 18, unless he denounces his sexuality, he is no longer capable of being morally straight and is banished. I guess the BSA leadership is hoping these children are just going through a phase.

In other news, a couple was gay-bashed on a Greenwich Village street late Saturday night. Two weeks ago a young man was shot and killed by an anti-gay attacker. Suddenly our screens are filling with images of gays beaten in bias attacks. The city we've held to be our safe haven trembles with fear.

No surprise here. These are just the next sallies in the war of terror aimed against us? While we were busy slapping ourselves on the back for each pro-gay court decision and election victory, the enemies of freedom stood, steadfast, their three-pronged pitchfork of bigotry clenched and ready to draw blood.

The first prong is political. When a politician like Marco Rubio is willing to sacrifice his career defining immigration reform legislation solely to insure that gays and lesbians are denied equal protection under the law, we have to admit that we're under attack. This is not pragmatic politics at work. These are the policies of bias, exclusion and unfairness.

The second wave is the steady barrage coming from those who would call themselves moral leaders. Shielded behind lecterns, they assign condemnation with impunity. Claiming to be brimming with the love of their creator, they spew forth the cowardice of the mob. Fundamentalism, whether raining down terror abroad or in homilies from our home parishes, is the enemy. It is the death knell of tolerance, progress and compromise. Fundamentalism is, in all practicality, nothing but an invitation to bigotry.

And thirdly, when we excuse homophobia as a matter of opinion instead of treating it as a destructive social illness, we invite fear to explode into violence. How often are the perpetrators of hate-crimes discovered to be self-loathing? Valued individuals do not strike out against strangers.

These continuing acts of violence, physical and rhetorical, terrify me. If we are ever to scrape the black rot of prejudice from the heart of our nation, we must stop excusing those who give it expression and even excuse. The next time someone dares to say, "Just because I don't approve of homosexuality doesn't make me a bigot," we must all answer back, "Yes, it does. Not only does it make you a bigot, it makes you a criminal, a danger to me, my family, my community, my city, and my country."

Intolerance is not a matter of opinion. It is a call to violence.

It's sadly ironic that when Cyndi and I opened Kinky Boots, our gentle fable with the moral, "You change the world when you change your mind," some criticized our message of acceptance as passé, no longer necessary, a given fact. Oh, how I wish those folks were right.

 
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