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(c) by Mary Griggs

So I was listening to talk radio the other day and heard one of the commentators going on about the “radical homosexual agenda.”

Our agenda is radical? No more so than the basic principles on which this country were founded. The Declaration of Independence declares: “We hold these Truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Is it really such a radical idea to want to have equal access to the same opportunities, benefits and protections granted to everyone else? To have the ability to work in an environment where people are judged by their job performance, not their sexual orientation or gender identity? Employers shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate against people because of whom they love or how they express or identify their gender. As Julian Bond said, “It isn’t ’special’ to be free from discrimination. It is an ordinary, universal entitlement of citizenship.”

And there is nothing radical about wanting to find a person with whom you can share your life. We are taught from childhood that people pair up and, while that might not be true for everyone, it is true enough that most seek shelter from life’s storms in the arms of love. In our society, marriage is not simply a religious institution. There are a large number (the GAO lists 1,138) of legal rights that are conferred upon heterosexual married couples. By not being allowed to pursue their happiness and get married, lesbians and gays are denied not just the legal and economic benefits but all the emotional and social benefits and responsibilities of marriage as well.

Surely, the commentator doesn’t mean that patriotism is only for radicals. We are a strong democracy because we have people willing to sacrifice everything to keep us safe from enemies both foreign and domestic. Gays and lesbians fully subscribe to the same values as the many of those who volunteer to serve in the military including duty, honor, and loyalty. The Pentagon has dismissed more than 11,000 men and women under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue. In a time when we are fighting two wars and the military is stretched thin, we cannot continue to lose critical personnel who happen to be LGBT.

Finally, can there be anything less radical than simply wanting to be yourself? Americans value freedom of expression. Shouldn’t that include the ability to live our lives with both a physical embodiment and a social expression that most closely matches our internal sense of self? Gender-nonconforming children and adults face a real danger of bias and harassment and it seems that the real perversion is forcing them to live a lie.

In 1884, the United States Supreme decreed that “Among these inalienable rights, as proclaimed in that great document, is the right of men to pursue their happiness, by which is meant the right to pursue any lawful business or vocation, in any manner not inconsistent with the equal rights of others, which may increase their prosperity or develop their faculties, so as to give to them their highest enjoyment.”
Butchers’ Co. v. Crescent City Co., 111 U.S. 746, 757

It seems like instead of being so very radical, the agenda of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is just an idea whose time has come.