Measure N and the Rights of Homosexuals

Once again, Lou Sheldon has used the pages of the Los Angeles Times (Oct. 15) to muddy the waters of sensible discussion.

Sheldon's contention that homosexuals are asking for "special" rights, whether it is in Irvine or elsewhere, is his favorite way of clouding the issue and creating a smoke screen behind which intelligent discussion cannot take place. Homosexuals are not asking for "special" rights. The Irvine measure does not guarantee any rights that others do not enjoy. In general, what we are asking for is protection of the same rights that all Americans are guaranteed.

Even though he holds strict fundamentalist beliefs, Sheldon cannot legally be denied a job, medical care or a home based on those beliefs. That is because we protect the freedom of religion. But lesbians and gays are regularly denied jobs, medical care and homes--to name just a few--because of who we are. The Irvine measure is one small step toward protecting our rights as Americans.

How and when sexual orientation develops is not clear, according to most psychiatrists and other social scientists. But behavioral models of homosexuality, which Sheldon claims are true, have largely been discarded over the last 15 years, since the American Psychological Assn. removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

Please remember that we are not asking for "special" rights. Nor do we define ourselves as a minority based on the practice of sodomy. Do not let confused fundamentalists control the language or determine the parameters of this debate. Lesbians and gays are asking for the same rights guaranteed to all Americans. And we must be protected because we are threatened by people like Lou Sheldon.

KEVIN FARRELL

Laguna Beach

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