Gay Rights Aren’t Civil Rights. Not Even Close.
I grew up in the 60s. I was around for some of the most turbulent days — and some of the turbulent events — of the civil rights movement, and though I’m trying as hard as I can, I can’t remember anyone ever calling it a “Black rights” movement.
And right there is the huge unrecognized difference between the civil rights movement and today’s gay and transgender (LGBT) rights movement.
We should have realized it a lot sooner. The very labels betray the must fundamental difference. The civil rights movement — the true civil rights movement — was about civil rights, i.e., human rights, the rights every human ought to be afforded in civil society. The gay rights movement is about gay rights.
Restorative and Creative Rights
The civil rights movement always was (and still is) about affording Blacks and other minorities the same historically-recognized rights that others have enjoyed from the time of our country’s founding. It’s never been about creating anything new, but rather about recognizing (very belatedly) that human beings are human beings whatever the color of their skin, and that every human’s civil rights should be every human’s civil rights. For that reason there was never a need to campaign for “Black rights.” Existing civil rights were sufficient, or rather would have been, had they been applied justly.
The civil rights movement was thus essentially restorative, an effort to establish for all the order recognized in the Bill of Rights, which recognizes and protects rights that our nation’s founders saw as existing in the natural order of things. Some human beings were being denied those rights only because they were black-skinned. To allow them those rights was to restore to them (as far as it has been successful, that is) what was already rightly theirs by virtue of their being human.
Gay rights, in contrast, and putting it more charitably than it deserves, are creative rather than restorative. Consider equal bathroom access, for example. This is hardly a right that has always existed as part of the natural order of things. It’s a new right, or better, a newly created privilege (mislabeled a right) being demanded by transgendered persons.
Equal access is not always equal to equal access. Blacks were once denied the right to sit at soda fountains. When their right to equal access was granted, it created no new rights for everyone else. The new equal access bathroom “rights” being demanded by the LGBT lobby, in contrast, are new for everyone.
Granted, Lambda Legal tries to frame LGBT demands in terms of pre-existing rights, saying for example that North Carolina’s HB2 “sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state.” Somehow, though, they’ve missed the rather obvious fact that any policy regarding bathroom access must necessarily take sides, and to accede to LGBT demands for “privacy, respect, and protections” is necessarily to deny the same to the vast majority of others. (Transgendered persons comprise, at most, fewer than one-half of 1 percent of adult Americans.) Bathrooms are segregated for a reason, and with good effect.
I experienced that effect in an unexpected way a few months ago. I was in the Atlanta airport, traveling with a foot injury, able to walk short distances but not all the way through the airport, so I requested and received wheelchair assistance. My wheelchair helper turned out to be quite an unusual person. Immediately after she picked me up she told me she needed to stop and use the rest room. That in itself is irregular, though not as much as the fact that previously she had walked into the men’s room to inform me she was ready and waiting for me.
That was odd enough, but things really got strange when she not only pushed me toward the women’s room, but actually drove me across the borders of the “no-man’s land” there at the entrance. I yelped, and she backed me out with apologies. The experience of approaching that entrance, though — the only time I’ve ever done that — was instructive to me. I had the unique sense of being pushed through a resistance field that was trying with considerable force to eject me from the environs.
That force field is a good thing. It’s a very good thing that men don’t enter women’s restrooms. Equal policies would tear that force field down, not only for transgendered persons but also for rapists, pedophiles, and others you’d never want your children— or yourself — to tangle with in private.
Which brings me back to that word “creative,” which was wrong from the beginning. Although LGBT awareness has some identifiably creative aspects — it’s brought needed attention to anti-gay bullying, for one — the LGBT rights movement creates nothing but change: change which overall is destructive. I could cite many examples, but I’ll stick with the one at hand. Equal access policies might build a tiny minority’s sense of privacy, respect, and protections, but they destroy that same assurance for everyone else.
Yet this is the kind of thing LGBT activists are calling a “civil right.” It isn’t. It’s a gay right, or a transgendered right. It’s no one else’s but theirs. Somehow still they’ve convinced much of America that their campaign is the same sort of thing as the historic African-American civil rights movement. It’s an error we must overcome.
Historic civil rights have always been about human rights — every human’s rights, properly and naturally afforded to every human being. Gay and transgender rights are about gay and transgender privileges that deny the civil rights of others. Don’t ever let anyone confuse you about the difference again.