As the country bends toward justice
Responding to Ed Jones’ opinion piece: “Don’t equate gay rights with civil rights of blacks,” Feb. 27:
I appreciate Jones’ service as a former county commissioner and state senator — especially impressive considering his growing up a black man in Mississippi in the 1950s. I would not necessarily “equate” the gay and black struggles for full equality. I don’t think anyone would disagree that conditions were far worse for blacks, especially in the South.
However, I believe it’s appropriate to “liken” the two struggles, to use his precise term. Jones did not have a choice about his race nor did I have a choice about my sexual orientation. The fact that gays are not as readily identified as blacks has not protected countless numbers of people from being persecuted, beaten and sometimes murdered for being perceived as gay. Both these prejudices, and also opposition to full equality for women, were commonly partly rooted in the Bible. I’m a Christian and I don’t think the Bible was wrong, rather a lot of people were reading it wrong. Our great country has come a long way — as it bends toward justice. All of us together can take pride and celebrate in that inclusive progress — even as the struggles continue
Bill Oliver, Colorado Springs
Facing similar discrimination
Response to Ed Jones: While I respect your right to have your opinions about whatever you choose to, I am saddened by the ignorance you display in those opinions (“Don’t equate gay rights with civil rights”). You share your story of growing up as a young black man in the South before the civil rights movement and the prejudice you faced and yet you question the rights of another set of people facing similar discrimination. “Of course, I was proud to be black. Either way, I didn’t have a choice. I was born black and will be black all of my life.” What you seem to miss is that members of the LGBT community did not choose to be who they are either. We are simply born this way, as you were born of color. As history has taught us, folks back then thought black people were somehow less than, or inferior to whites in every way and could be held as property. Time and the efforts of generations have helped to change that mode of thinking, as it is obviously ludicrous. So, why do you now take issue with the LGBT community for fighting for the same recognition?
I take issue with your demeaning the events at Stonewall as a drunken brawl with police at a gay bar. The continual raiding of gay bars by police is very much like the presence of the KKK marching down Main Street. Often, gays and lesbians were sought out in our “own clubs” and battered or killed.
After Amendment 2 passed here in Colorado, LGBT folks were fired from their jobs and kicked out of their houses for being gay and this was 1992! How do you feel when people who don’t believe in civil rights for blacks call the civil rights movement an uprising of disobedient (negative word for black people)? As for the lynching example, ever hear of Matthew Shepard? Or paying a poll tax — at least you can get married and then you and your spouse can file taxes together, get automatic rights for inheritance, medical visits, etc.
President Obama relating the struggle of blacks and gay people is because they are both civil rights issues. Please remember that many who opposed blacks obtaining those rights used the same “beliefs” as you espouse against the LGBT community.
Charlie Davenport, Colorado Springs
Playing the ‘oppressed’ card
Ed Jones tries to play the “I know what it is like to be oppressed and you don’t” card. He argues that homosexuals have not faced oppression on a par with blacks and besides homosexuals have a choice, although he doesn’t say what choices they have.
I agree, there were few overt cases of discrimination against gays. Unless you count being beat up and killed because you seemed to be a “sissy” or a “queer”, or perhaps being arrested because you kissed your same sex partner in public. I understand that Jones could never hide his race so he never had to make the humiliating choice to try to pass for something he was not.
That drunken brawl he talks about came about after years of homosexual men and women being harassed and arrested because they wanted a place where they could have a drink and dance with each other in peace. But it was against the law for them to do that. The bars could be raided by the police at any time and the patrons could be arrested for the crime of dancing together. Sometimes the police would beat them up for the heck of it and there was no recourse. After all, they were just a bunch of “queers” who needed to be shown their place. That should sound familiar to Ed Jones.
I understand that Jones believes that homosexuality is against God’s law. He has a right to worship as he sees fit. I believe that all creation is part of the creator’s plan, gay and straight. Any attempt to deny marriage equality is a denial of religious freedom and civil rights.
Beth Heinrich, Colorado Springs
Time for full citizenship for all
Ed Jones highlighted his struggle growing up in segregated Mississippi in the 1940s. It was the same throughout the Southern states (I grew up in southeast Texas around the same time). I also wondered why people of color were denied their basic civil rights, not only in the South, but in other areas of the nation, too. No states were spared the evils of segregation. The cities of the North and West had their racial and ethnic ghettos. Remember too that interracial marriage was also illegal until the mid-1960s, in many states.
It was a time in our collective history no one should remember with nostalgia, or pride.
Something Jones did not address in his piece is this: Weren’t African American GLBTQ persons also discriminated against because of their color? Just think how much more so if they had also been openly gay. Unfortunately, this type of discrimination still exists, especially within a number of religious groups. Jones states so in his column. It is tragic that this continues with those previously oppressed now becoming the oppressors.
Now is the time for full citizenship for all Americans, of whatever race, religious or political persuasion, or sexual orientation.
Bob Armintor, Colorado Springs