One of my first posts on this blog was about Frank Russo, President of the American Family Association of New York, dedicated homophobe and self appointed morality tsar of Long Island.
Mr. Russo had a letter to the editor published in Newsday last week in response to a small article Newsday ran about the announcement by Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter that she was pregnant. The article mentioned that "conservative activists consider homosexuality a sin." Russo wrote Newsday to clarify that conservative activists such as himself "do not view homosexuality (the homosexual orientation or inclination) as a sin, but rather as a disorder." How kind of him.
Russo went on to state that he viewed homosexuality the same way that he viewed alcoholism. According to Russo, "homosexual acts are objectively sinful, just as is drunkenness."
I was sufficiently incensed by what Russo wrote to e-mail my own letter to the editor of Newsday in response. Since Newsday considers letters sent to them as their property, I will not repeat it in its entirety here. The three main points I made were (1) "there is a vast difference between two people of the same gender in a relationship who spend some intimate moments together in the privacy of their home and a person who becomes inebriated from alcohol and gets behind the wheel of a car", (2) "what if an objective review of the evidence and the facts determines that the holy book that Mr. Russo and other religious conservatives use to base their judgment about gays does not actually represent the inerrant truth of some supreme being?", and (3) how does "the integrity of my marriage and family depend upon denying gays the same rights that I have?" I also made a jibe at Russo and other activists who set up organizations with words like "Family" and "Traditional Values" in their names and think it gives them the right to pontificate on matters or morality.
When I checked the Letters section on Newsday's web site today, my letter was not as yet published. However, I was pleased to see that Newsday ran no less than four letters from readers who took issue with Mr. Russo. Many of them echoed my points.
Below are my favorite quotes from the published letters.
Peter Miller of Westbury, in prose dripping with sarcasm, wrote "In every area of my house, I am disordered until I cross the magic threshold of my bedroom with a friend, then I'm a sinner. In my bathroom, kitchen, living room I am disordered. There's a sofa in my living room. On that sofa I'm a sinner. But, when I'm sitting on my recliner, watching a "Seinfeld" rerun, I'm just disordered. I'm disordered while driving my car in the front seat, but a sinner in the backseat."
But the slam dunk goes to Maurice Simon of Mastic Beach, who wrote "I am a decorated combat Vietnam veteran, retired health care professional, law-biding, tax-paying citizen of this great state and country and a gay man. The only sin or disorder that I see is the religious hate and segregation toward gay people in the name of God."
Of course, none of this is likely to change the way Frank Russo thinks about gays. But that is not the point. The readers of Newsday who are more likely to be open minded about such things need to see Russo's comments rebutted. While I wish that my letter had been one of the ones that was published (and there is a chance it still might), as long as the message gets put out there by people of good will, that is what matters the most.