An All-Inclusive Vision of Equality vs. It's Not "Safe, Wise, Good; It's a Sin." (Panel Discussion on Constitutional Ammendment to Ban Any Reference to Sexual Preference in Civil Rights Laws)

By Strongheart, Amy Adams Squire; Towers, Art et al. | St. Louis Journalism Review, April 1994 | Go to article overview

An All-Inclusive Vision of Equality vs. It's Not "Safe, Wise, Good; It's a Sin." (Panel Discussion on Constitutional Ammendment to Ban Any Reference to Sexual Preference in Civil Rights Laws)


Strongheart, Amy Adams Squire, Towers, Art, Hendrick, Harold, Messer, Kerry, Carlson, Susan, Thomas, Jim, St. Louis Journalism Review


The attempt to put on a Missouri ballot a constitutional amendment which would keep any reference to sexual preference out of civil rights laws has briefly divided Missourians.

The controversy whether civil rights language should contain protection for gays and lesbians was the topic of a panel discussion at the St. Louis Press Club, March 23, 1994, including Amy Adams Squire Strongheart, St. Louis Post-Dispatch op-ed page columnist; Art Towers, representative of Show-Me Equality; Rev. Harold Hendrick, commentator on KSIV-Radio; Kerry Messer, representative of the Amendment Coalition; Susan Carlson, an attorney who has worked with the American Civil Liberties Union; and Jim Thomas, editor, Gay & Lesbian News Telegraph.

Following are excerpts from their comments.

Strongheart: I am opposed to this amendment for a number of reasons. Periodically, a new group is selected to fill the chair of the outcast or the social menace. Some of the legislative movements help keep certain groups locked out of the rest of society. We lesbians, gays and bisexuals are being targeted for exile from this nation. In November, Missouri will join Washington, California, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Kentucky and Florida in seeing some type of anti-civil rights initiative against lesbians and gays. We are indeed being exiled from this country on a city-by-city, county-by-county and state-by-state basis. I am opposed to any campaign which paints an entire segment of any community as so dangerous and offensive that enough people say it must be denied the same rights that are granted to every person.

Everyone in the United States discriminates against lesbians, gays and bisexuals. [They] are regularly denied having custody of their children, promotion and employment.

The proposed amendment would make discrimination permissible. I am opposed to any campaign that would make violence, bigotry and discrimination the law of the land. I oppose this initiative not only for what it is but also for the manner in which it is being presented to us. It divides our communities along the lines of race and class.

In the midst of economic instability and rising crime,all American citizens are feeling vulnerable and scared. In times like these, people have been all too willing to find a scapegoat. Again the holocaust rears its ugly head as a brutal example of how far humanity can go seeking someone to blame for its social woes. And this is how it begins: by amending constitutions, retracting good laws, making one particular segment of society vulnerable.

In churches and council meetings citizens are being told that if we pass legislation to protect individuals from violence and discrimination, those protected will then have special rights that other citizens do not have. I find this illogical and an affront not only to me but also to women and men who are protected on the basis of sex; blacks and whites who are protected on the basis of race; the disabled who are protected on the basis of their abilities; Christians, Muslims and Jews who are protected on the basis of their religion; Vietnam veterans who are protected on the basis of status as veterans; single people who are protected on the basis of their marital status, and Asian Americans who are protected on the basis of their country of origin. Civil rights laws do not provide special rights. What they do is ensure that all citizens are afforded the same civil rights.

The Coalition has a vision of America that does not include me.

I also have a vision of America that includes not only me but every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual person, every member of the Amendment Coalition and the Traditional Values Coalition, the minority and citizens alliance, every Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, pagan, atheist in the country, every immigrant, every black, every white every Republican, every Democrat, every Libertarian, every Independent, every woman, man and child. …

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