Article from The Stanford Daily, 1/27/1987

I don't quite understand the reasoning James Spencer seems to be appplying in his letter entitled "Daily frat stance has homosexuality as moral standard," but I do notice that he demonstrates some significant misconceptions about gay people that should be addressed.

Misconception: It's okay to discriminate against gays. Spencer denounces the Daily for taking sides with the homosexuals "on the moral high ground." He has missed the point the Daily was trying to make. As a social fraternity, the Zeta Psi members have the right to be completely arbitrary in their decisions about who can and can't attend their functions. But if they are given back their house, they will be in control of a scarce University resource, on-campus housing. To deny that resource to gay people is a violation of Stanford's non-discrimination policy. This isn't a matter of the Daily supporting or not supporting gay rights. Stanford has made it quite clear that it is not okay to discriminate against gay people when University resources and programs are involved.

Misconception: Christian morality unequivocally denounces homosexuality. Spencer is following the conservative tradition of calling in Christianity when all else fails. Such arguments were put forth to support the idea that the Sun revolves around the Earth, that left-handed people are sinister, that masturbation is wicked, that women should be subjugated, that stores should be closed on Sundays, and so on. Many of the Old Testament strictures are not followed by modern-day Christians. Christ's movement was, in many ways, a reaction against simple-minded enforcement of such rules. Paul denounces homosexuality along with just about every other kind of sexuality, but Christ said nothing about it. Thus, there is no reason to believe that one can't be both homosexual and Christian. For example, the Quakers and Unitarians are Christian sects that don't believe homosexuality is immoral.

Misconception: Homosexuality is an action. Spencer is overemphasizing the sex in homosexuality. He believes his condemnation of gays doesn't constitute prejudice, because "prejudice occurs when people are judged by their external appearance instead of by their actions." Such arguments are used to condemn prostitutes, drug users, and others who choose to violate social mores. Without much understanding of religion, one could make a similar argument that Judaism is an action, going to synagogue. Thus, condemnation of Jews isn't prejudice, because it's based on the actions of those immoral Jews. After all, couldn't they stay home, or better yet, go to a Christian church? This argument is specious because a person's religion is based on personal beliefs, not on personal actions. Homosexuality is closer in this analogy to religion than to prostitution. I'm gay because I fall in love with men, not because I have sex with them. My sexuality is something deeply personal, not something that I have chosen and not something that I can change.

Let me close with a few words of advice for James Spencer and any other undergraduates who might have similar feelings towards gay people. One of the greatest gifts Stanford has to offer you is the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people. One of the main reasons you condemn gay people is that you haven't met enough of them. But you won't meet any of them if you continue to condemn them. This is the vicious circle that perpetuates gay invisibility. You probably have many friends and perhaps even family members who are gay but who haven't found the courage to share their feelings with you. You will find your Stanford education enriched if you keep an open mind and make your heavy-handed judgements after some discussion rather than before.

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