In 1978, California State Senator John Briggs sponsored an initiative on the ballot which would have banned gays and lesbians, and possibly anyone who supported gay rights, from working in California’s public schools. Although this initiative was initially successful in the polls, it failed on election night by 58.4% to 41.6%.
While the notion of banning gay people from certain types of employment (other than the military) seems archaic, it certainly isn’t dead. In fact, one of the more prominent voices in the Senate seems to be channeling John Briggs. (Spartanburg Herald-Journal)
[Senator Jim DeMint] said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom.
“(When I said those things,) no one came to my defense,” he said. “But everyone would come to me and whisper that I shouldn’t back down. They don’t want government purging their rights and their freedom to religion.”
Undoubtedly DeMint considers himself to be a good Republican. And, as such, undoubtedly he idolizes Ronald Reagan. So perhaps he should consider these words from the man that is credited for turning around public opinion:
Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual’s sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child’s teachers do not really influence this.
Were DeMints thinking based on Fears About The Children, then he could rest assured that they are baseless. But they aren’t. Rather, DeMint is concerned about that nebulous “freedom to religion” which seems to be defined as the right to force others to do what your religion dictates.
And so Senator DeMint’s objection to gay people teaching is based in something a bit less susceptible to argument or logic: a desire to harm the lives of gay people and to falsely present them as something to be feared or shunned. Because that is consistent with the values of the god he serves.