Gay Rights Aren’t Civil Rights. Not Even Close.

By Tom Gilson Published on April 9, 2016

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.

Reasonable Segregation

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.

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  • John W.

    As someone once said (I’m paraphrasing): I may not agree with your beliefs but I will defend your right to hold them. Gay rights/ SSM activists, on the other hand, reject this view. They want total cultural domination. They want their views to prevail, and traditional beliefs about sexual morality and marriage to fail. You can reach a kind of “equality” that way, by passing laws that condemn views that don’t agree with your own or your preferred group think. But that’s not an equality of personal rights, because you’re taking away the rights of those who disagree with you. True democracy can only exist where everyone has the right to dissent and follow the dictates of their own personal conscience. You can only get the other brand of “equality” in a totalitarian state.

  • Marcia S. Smith

    I agree 100%: Civil Rights and Gay Rights are two opposing views. The latter desires to oppress and discriminate against the majority [heterosexuals] –no matter what the cost. I spoke to my director several years ago about diversity, does it pertain to one group of people or everyone? I witnessed first hand the intolerance behavior towards Christians. I am a Christian minority and a woman; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, Joshua 24:15. Act 5:29 sums it up best: “Then Peter and the apostles replied, We must obey God rather than men.” Church, Let us pray according to 2 Chronicles 7:14… Jesus, empower your Church like never before…Keep us, Lord, John Chapter 17.

  • Marcia S. Smith

    Church, let us pray for the persecuted church, our loved ones, leaders and the world, John 3:16-19:
    16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([a]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

    17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.

    18 He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation—he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ’s name.]

    19 The [basis of the] judgment (indictment, the test by which men are judged, the ground for the sentence) lies in this: the Light has come into the world, and people have loved the darkness rather than and more than the Light, for their works (deeds) were evil.


    Thanks. Now I see clearly that civil rights are for those unchangeable human characters since birth – age, gender, racial origins, later only unchangeable disability condition added to that protected category. Done!

  • S Fither

    “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.” —Adolph Hitler

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