Another Lesson In Selective Tolerance

June 11, 2007

People who don’t think the radical homosexual lobby is trying to force its views on society probably aren’t paying close attention. Increasingly, in various parts of this nation, if you express traditional views on traditional marriage, you risk being branded a bigot and your speech being muzzled.

For the radical homosexual lobby, it isn’t enough that its views are guaranteed full protection, even special protection by the state. They also want to ensure that those disagreeing with them are demonized and denied their First Amendment rights.

The Washington Times’ Julia Duin reports on a lawsuit — Good News Employee Association vs. Hicks — originating in Oakland, Calif., that is being appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

The controversy arose when two employees of the city of Oakland formed the Good News Employee Association (GNEA) to challenge activities of a previously formed group of homosexual employees. The homosexual group and other radical left-wing groups had availed themselves of the city’s e-mail and bulletin board systems.

One e-mail message said, “I personally think the good book needs some updating.” According to the Pro-Family Law Center, “Other city-approved e-mails (during the same time period) announced the establishment of an ‘altar’ for the Day of the Dead, … ‘National Coming Out Day,’ ‘the first anti-Iraq war teach-in sponsored by a city government anywhere in the U.S.,’ and a ‘First Annual Holiday Mixer’ for the Gay-Straight Employee Alliance.”

When other employees questioned whether these communications were legitimate city business, a city council member fired back an e-mail saying that a “celebration of the gay/lesbian culture and movement” was part of the city’s role to “celebrate diversity.”

The Times reports that, in response, GNEA posted a flier on the employee bulletin board stating, “Preserve Our Workplace With Integrity: Good News Employee Association is a forum for people of faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day.” It also said it opposed “all views which seek to redefine the natural family and marriage,” which it described as “a union of a man and a woman, according to California state law.”

A lesbian employee complained to the city attorney’s office that the flier made her feel “targeted” and “excluded,” which prompted a supervisor to remove it because it violated the city’s anti-discrimination rules.

But it didn’t stop there. A city deputy executive director sent a memo to city employees saying the GNEA flier “contained statements of a homophobic nature” and warned employees they could be fired for posting similar materials.

Two GNEA employees filed suit against Oakland, claiming a violation of their First Amendment rights, in view of the discriminatory practices of the city based on the content of the messages.

The district court rejected the claim, as did the 9th U.S. Circus Court of Appeals. The 9th Circus’ opinion stated, “Public employers are permitted to curtail employee speech as long as their ‘legitimate administrative interests’ outweigh the employee’s interest in freedom of speech.” Legitimate administrative interests? You’ve got to be kidding. It also approved the district court’s characterization of the GNEA employees’ speech interests as “vanishingly small.”

Unless the Supreme Court reverses these rulings, the words “natural family,” “marriage” and “union of a man and a woman” can be banned as hate speech in government workplaces, while Bible and traditional values bashing will receive the highest protection.

Can someone explain how the government has a “legitimate administrative interest” in forbidding the expression of biblically based views; how it is “homophobic” for government employees merely to affirm principles supported by the Bible and thousands of years of civilization, yet not heterophobic and Bible-phobic for government employees to directly trash the Bible and traditional values; how a lesbian employee can claim she was targeted and excluded when nothing was said or done to her, while the real victims, the GNEA employees, were genuinely “targeted” and punished?

Which side here is refusing to “live and let live”? Homosexual groups deny they are pressing for special rights and protection, but no one is shutting down their speech, branding them as hateful, bullying them with threats of firings, and publicly insulting the sacred principles in which they believe. Homosexual groups maintain they are promoting diversity, but seek to suppress diverse viewpoints by labeling them “hateful” and “hurtful.”

If people of traditional values don’t begin to stand up for themselves, their values, their rights and liberties, it won’t be long before it will be a crime, like it is in certain other countries, to recite or publish certain scriptural texts that make radical homosexual groups uncomfortable.

Before you suggest I’m exaggerating, please distinguish such a scenario, in principle, from the above-described series of events involving the GNEA in Oakland, California.