We must respond to a statement attributed to Supervisor Pete Schabarum in your report on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors' vote to approve adding a clause to the Sheriff's Department's contract barring discrimination based on sexual orientation (Times, June 21). Schabarum, the lone dissenter, was quoted as saying he didn't think being gay and lesbian "was a proper lifestyle for a member of law enforcement.
Those of us who are lesbian and gay do not consider our sexual orientation a "lifestyle"; it is simply part of who we are. There is no single gay and lesbian lifestyle. Lesbians and gay men can be found in every walk of life, race, socioeconomic class and occupation, including law enforcement. Bigots, like Schabarum, who use the term "lifestyle" do so because they are trying to justify their bigotry by conjuring up a negative stereotype. Would Schabarum argue that African-Americans, Jews or women be barred from the Sheriff's Department because of their "lifestyle?" Such a statement about lesbians and gay men is no less bigoted or repulsive.
It is appalling that someone with such bigoted views should have held the important position he has for so long. His retirement is long overdue.
co-president, Gay and Lesbian
Alliance Against Defamation