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Changes In Attitude?
A Gay Opinion 9/19/01
by R.A. Melos

On Tuesday September 11, 2001, the way many people perceived the world changed with the terrorist attacks on the United States. In the days to follow, the world saw a country united against a common enemy. The American people banded together and showed concern and support for one another, in the wake of the tragedy.

Well, almost everyone banded together and showed support for each other.

The ever-so-holier-than-thou Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two of the major players in the Religious Rights holy war on homosexuality, had the audacity to point their fingers of blame at gays, lesbians, abortionists, and Pagans, claiming the influences of these groups "caused God to lift the curtain of protection," which apparently isn't the shroud of Turin, and allow the terrible events of that day to unfold.

While these ministers of "the word of God" apologized one day later, for misspeaking and giving the impression they were blaming homosexuals and abortionists for inadvertently being responsible for the opening events of what may still turn into World War III, the truth of their underlying beliefs had already been revealed.

In the aftermath of what I consider the single most traumatic historical event of my lifetime, to date, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, through the medium of the surprisingly enduring 700 Club television program, have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, bigotry in the name of God is the most enduring form of hate known to man.

It was the words of hate spoken by these so-called men of God, which woke me to the fact, no matter how great the tragedy, how devastating the destruction and loss of life, the human capacity to preserve ignorance and hate will survive.

Today the Pentagon announced a suspension of military discharges during this war on terrorism, lifting, if you will, the ban on homosexuals in the military. This was done once before during the Persian Gulf War, but after the war ended out open and honest military personnel were once again treated to discharges for simply living honestly as God made them.

While I watched rescue workers probing the areas of destruction in the hope of finding survivors, not caring about the sexual orientation, religion or political views of any survivors, it became clear to me the homosexual community, which has a strong presence in both New York and Washington DC, has a long way to go before the kind of hate-mongering in the name of God, which is ironically part of the motivation behind the horrific terrorist attacks, is a thing of the past.

So far, two out proud gay men have been identified among the victims of the hijacking attacks on the Pentagon and the plane crash outside of Pittsburgh. These men had the right to die along side heterosexuals and fellow human beings, but had they lived, would not have the rights to legally recognize the benefits of marriage, and in 39 states would be at risk of being fired from their jobs simply because they were open about being as God made them. They would not have the right to adopt an abandon child in many states, yet they had the right to die as heroic Americans in the face of the nation's greatest tragedy.

If we, as a race, learn anything from the monstrous actions taken in the name of God on September 11th, it must be the lesson of acceptance and equality for everyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, religious beliefs, and do our best to teach this kind of tolerance to the future generations.

The United States government must set the example of this kind of tolerance by rejecting such foolishness as the proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage between one man and one woman as the only legally recognized form of marriage in this country. The United States government must make discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal nationwide.

Yes, I understand I'm asking many people of one of the largest countries in the world to perform a complete change of attitude toward the way they perceive one set of people, just as I underwent a complete change in attitude on September 11th when I watched the majestic twin tower structure of the World Trade Center collapse as a result of acts forged in hate.

One of the ways to truly beat terrorism, and overcome the acts of the closed minded, bigoted terrorists, and pull together as a nation, is to embrace each other in complete acceptance of each individual regardless of sexual orientation. Making same-sex unions, partner benefits, gay parent adoptions all legal and possible nationwide, will show the world the way of the future.

I urge the American people, now, when we all need a sense of healing and security, to start with the act of equality based on sexual orientation. Then teach acceptance and tolerance to future generations in the hopes the seeds of love planted in the ashes of terrorist destruction will take root and spread worldwide, because love, acceptance and tolerance of our fellow man are the real weapons which will stop terrorism and end this new style war.

Pick up a pen and paper and write to your congressmen and senators, and write to the White House and President Bush, and tell them the direction of peace, love and equality you want the United States to take in the 21st century.


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