I hate being wrong

I hate being wrong, but I try to own up to it when I find out.

When I wrote a few days ago about the leader of an ex-gay group who was saying ex-gays deserve federal protections just like the ones gays get, I said that there aren’t any federal protections explicitly for gays. That was really a minor part of my argument, but a number of people took issue with it.

When the spokesman was asked to explain what kind of discrimination ex-gays experience, he said that they’re intimidated, threatened, called liars, and that the media doesn’t take them seriously. Now, threats and intimidation can be serious, depending on what form they take. That’s why the Civil Rights Act of 1964 called out acts of interference and intimidation by force when it is motivated by a person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin. It only covered such acts of force in specific areas: attending school, patronizing a public place, applying for work, serving on a jury, or voting.

But being called a liar? Not usually considered a crime. Particularly when it has been proven many times that you have lied. And not being taken seriously by the media? Excuse me? Since when is the federal government ordering the media to take gays seriously?

In 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act added gender to the list of motivations that could be considered a hate crime, and directed a sentencing commission to provide guidelines for increased sentencing of those acts.

Several attempts were made over the years to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list, and those all failed.

Until 2010, when a rider was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act. Thanks to this rider, federal hate crimes laws do cover crimes where the motivation of the criminal is the perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender identity of the victim. The law also removed the requirement that the crime had to be committed when the person was attempting to vote or attend school and so on. It still has to be a crime of force or actual injury, though.

Somehow I had the recollection that the attempt to add this had been blocked in one of the houses of congress. But I had completely misremembered. Thus, I was wrong in my original posting.

So, federal hate crime laws do now include crimes committed because of one’s sexual orientation (or someone’s perception thereof—so people like the guys who beat and killed a pair of straight brothers because they thought the men were a gay couple would still qualify as a hate crime; the attackers thought the men were gay and the entire reason they attacked the men was because of that perception).

However, I must point out that even this act doesn’t protect specifically gay people. Besides the example I gave, of someone attacking a straight person because they mistake them for a gay person and they think gay people should be beaten or killed, it applies the other way, too. In other words, the law doesn’t say “perceived or actual homosexuality” it’s any sexual orientation, including straight.

And if the ex-gays are correct, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, that they have somehow changed their orientation, then they are simply straight people, and if anyone is intimidating them through force or injuring them because of their no-longer-gay orientation, they are covered.

If I, and every medical and psychological association that has studied the issue, are correct, and they’re just gay people who are pretending to be cured so they can keep making money selling their fake cure to desperate and frightened people, well, if anyone is intimidating them through force or injuring them because of their not-really-ex-gay orientation, they’re still covered.

If someone is intimidating Mr Doyle or his fellow ex-gays through force (or threat of force) or are injuring them, those people are wrong and should be held accountable to the full extent of the law.

But having people like me point and laugh at them, that isn’t intimidation through force, it isn’t a threat, and it isn’t a crime. When specialized news blogs, such as Good As You, Truth Wins Out, Americablog, or Wonkette point out their lies, inconsistencies, and ridiculous claims, that isn’t a crime. When news organizations report on studies that show their therapy causes more harm than good, that isn’t a crime. When not even Fox News can be bothered to cover their rally denouncing gay rights groups, that isn’t a crime.

Maybe I’m mean when I call them parasites and liars, but the facts back me up. It might sound less harsh to say that they are disingenuously taking advantage of desperate and vulnerable people, but the meaning is the same. So I’m going to stick to “lying parasites.”

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. For more than 20 years I edited and published an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live near Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

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