New York Times: US should embrace gay reparations

Next week, Congress will hold a hearing on reparations for slavery. Millionaire Hollywood actor Danny Glover and writer Ta-Neishi Coates will testify before a House panel“to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice.”

While some believe reparations for those who were never slaves should be paid by those who were never slave owners, an opinion piece in the New York Times is pushing for another kind of reparations: Gay reparations.

For instance, the article says:

Although there is no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to gay reparation, countries have taken three distinct approaches. The most common is “moral rehabilitation,” which entails a formal apology by the state and the expunging of criminal records of those convicted of a homosexual offense. There’s also financial compensation for loss of income and pensions. Finally, there’s “truth-telling,” or an official report on past wrongs that incorporates steps for reparation. These are not mutually exclusive approaches; in fact, as recent experiences show, they are often pursued simultaneously or sequentially.

The article goes on to say:

Certainly, the case for gay reparation in the United States is as compelling, if not more so, than in other Western democracies. President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1953 Executive Order 10450, which called for the expulsion of homosexuals from all levels of the federal government, contributed to the “Lavender Scare” — the hunting of homosexuals throughout the federal bureaucracy, from the post office to the military to the diplomatic corps. It also ushered in decades of initiatives, court rulings and laws that demeaned and demonized homosexuals — such as Anita Bryant’s 1977 Save Our Children Campaign, which depicted gay men as pedophiles; Bowers v. Hardwick, a 1986 Supreme Court ruling that upheld sodomy laws at a time when most democratic nations were already dismantling such laws (that ruling would not be overturned until 2003); and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the infamous 1993 policy that allowed homosexuals to serve in the armed forces if they kept their sexual orientation a secret. That policy alone was responsible for the dismissal of some 13,000 men and women, including medical doctors, fighter pilots and Arabic translators, by the time it was revoked in 2011.

The article closes by saying receiving reparations isn’t likely to happen anytime soon:

But if history is any guide, gay reparation faces an uphill struggle in the United States. After all, American society is still debating the merits of reparations for slavery. Moreover, although polls reveal that the issue of gay rights no longer divides the American public, it remains salient to the Republican Party. Not surprisingly, social conservatives, who control the party’s social agenda, have already attacked the idea. In 2010, the radio show host Michael Medved said that “any campaign for gay reparations would fall flat because there’s no evidence whatever that today’s homosexuals are the heirs to a long, bitter heritage of discrimination that spans generations.” He added that unlike black people, homosexuals “exercise a great deal of choice about just how public they want to embrace gay identity — or to claim a victim’s status.”

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