Nation: Voting Against Gay Rights

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In Eugene, Ore., a city wide referendum to repeal a gay rights ordinance is scheduled for May 23. As of last week, pro-repeal groups in Eugene had not requested help from Anita Bryant. One such organization, known as VOICE, announced that it would stick to political arguments and not raise issues of God and motherhood in its repeal efforts. "We are against any select group having their conduct protected," said VOICE Campaign Worker Michelle Barton.

Many civil libertarians see the repeal votes as an unwelcome suppression of minority rights. Said Presidential Assistant Margaret Costanza: "The voters go in the booth and think they're saying they don't approve of homosexuality. But they're not. They're saying that anyone's human rights can be taken away with the pull of a lever." It seemed more likely that Wichita voters were less interested in restricting the rights of gays than in blocking a community-wide endorsement of a practice they abhor. Sums up University of Chicago Theologian Martin E. Marty: "The American people have had and will continue to have a growing tolerance for homosexual expression. But there is a big difference between a growth in tolerance and a willingness to legislate homosexuality as a normative alternative."

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