The following article relates to a human rights proposal on the November 6, 2001 ballot in Huntington Woods, Michigan. For more information, please see the City of Huntington Woods ordinance listings.
I recently received a letter from a group called the "Huntington Woods Citizens Voting NO to Special Rights Discrimination." The letter, sent from a post office box outside of Huntington Woods, calls on residents to protect their daughters by voting against Proposal 01-1. As one of these daughters, I also appeal to Huntington Woods voters to protect their community--not from the supposed dangers of a ban on sexual orientation-based discrimination, but from the author's campaign of intolerance so offensive to all who share the values Huntington Woods instills in its children.
We must understand that the letter's goal is not just to argue against Proposal 01-1, but to perpetuate a warped and damaging image of gay and transgendered persons. The author refers to committed gay couples as "sex partners" or quote-unquote "partners." This deliberate choice of language devalues relationships that are as loving and lasting as legal marriage. Furthermore, disregarding evidence of science and experience, the author describes homosexuality as a "choice of sexual behavior" (italics theirs). Sexual orientation is not a choice and is not simply a matter of behavior. Describing it in this way is not only factually incorrect, but also damaging to the struggle against discrimination.
The letter's depiction of transgendered persons reflects a monumental lack of understanding of what it means to be transgendered. Transgender is an all-encompassing matter of gender identity. It is not wearing a dress (or a man's suit) for an occasional lark, and it is absolutely not a clever trick to get into the women's bathroom, as the letter suggests. The idea that a person would endure the intolerance exemplified by this letter, would suffer the label "emotionally-challenged," simply to get to peek under a shower curtain is ludicrous.
Furthermore, the author writes that Proposal 01-1 "protect[s] behavior that threatens public health," a reference to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and related illnesses. Are we to believe that fair housing practices spread HIV? That hepatitis is transmitted through equal access to public services? Worse than being simply irrelevant, however, this argument perpetuates the idea that AIDS is a "gay disease," a false and dangerous perception that doctors, activists, and educators have been fighting for years. I believe the residents of Huntington Woods see this letter for what it is--a collection of flimsy arguments that prey on fear and ignorance but are themselves rooted in something more malevolent. I appeal to residents of Huntington Woods not to take the passage of Proposal 01-1 for granted and, by voting yes, to show their support for nondiscrimination and their outrage against this campaign of misinformation and intolerance.