Lt. Dan Choi on Countdown with Keith Olberman recently:

When you have justified discrimination in any government agency or in any public policy, you give cover to those people, to those young kids who can say not only, "thats so gay," or give negative or pejorative statements about things, and calling them "that's the gayest thing I ever heard" or when you use the term "faggot." I think that you are giving cover to those bullies on the playground when you are a bully in the legislative arenas ... we need to learn some responsibility in our leadership and our public discourse.

Justified discrimination. Legal discrimination. In the United States of America. In the year 2010.

But it's okay. Because it's just "them". The gays. Lesser humans who deserve to be taunted, tormented, and beaten because, well, because they make some people feel icky.  Or something. Makes no sense, has no logic, but there it is, out there for us to see in the occasional headline, or on page 23, or in an obituary notice.

Let's think about this.  It's perfectly legal to discriminate against redheads, but the United States government doesn't do that.  Congress has passed no law making redheads second-class citizens.  And, strangely enough, no one goes around professing hatred for redheads or making their lives a living hell.

It's perfectly legal to discriminate against lefties (in the sense of handedness).  Yet Congress has passed no law that says lefties are unworthy of serving their country. No one gets fired from the Army because their commanding officer discovers them writing with the wrong hand.  And if you happen to swing a bat from the left side of the plate it's unlikely you will be screamed at for being an abomination in the eyes of a rightous just God. (Even if the English language is a bit biased.)

And it's perfectly legal to discriminate against homosexuals. But Congress, in a fit of hysteria 17 year ago, DID pass a law that said that certain of its citizens were not worthy to serve their country. Not because they couldn't shoot straight (or translate Arabic); not because they were traitors; not because of anything other than the simple fact that the gender of the people whom they are attracted to is 'non-standard'.  And you know what?  People do go around professing hatred for such people. They sometimes make their lives a living hell and claim that they are abominations in the eyes of the same God they claim created the Universe and everything in it.

Coincidence? Of course not. History is replete with examples of official stigmas translating into unofficial crimes. This is no different. When the leadership of a country does nothing to right a wrong, the haters and bigots take notice.  When discrimination is justified by the highest levels of our society, it doesn't matter how many "It gets better" videos are produced.

It's time for this signalling to stop.  

What moral justification can anyone in Congress fall back on in continuing to send the signal that a class of the citizens they themselves represent are not deserving of equal rights and equal treatment?  

There is none.

What moral justification can the President of the United States claim in continuing to enforce a law that engenders hatred? A law that holds up, as a matter of ethical principle, the proposition that it is both good and proper that someone can be fired from the job they love because they are gay?

There is none.

And yet it continues.

A 12-year-old girl at Hernando Middle School in Mississippi was beaten by five fellow students -- reportedly because they said her name, Randi, was "a boy name." "They started talking about me like I was a man," she told local news station WREG. "That I shouldn't be in this world. And my name was a boy name." The four girls and a boy surrounded her after a Fellowship of Christian Students meeting, and, she said, kicked her in the rib and leg, hit her in the face, sat on her, pushed her face into the floor, and threw her onto a cafeteria table.

For shame Olympia. For shame Harry.  For shame Orrin. For shame the other ninty-seven of you. And for shame Mr. President. For shame.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 08:37 AM PST.

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